Mark Webber joins the BBC

Mark Webber will be racing this year in the World Endurance Championship with Porsche but when he has some spare time he will be making a series of “films”, looking at the stories in Formula 1 from his unique perspective of having raced in the series until the end of last season. It will be interesting to hear his views as Mark has never been backward in coming forward with an opinion, even if he had to be rather diplomatic throughout his Red Bull career.

69 thoughts on “Mark Webber joins the BBC

  1. Will be good to hear from MW again. He’s never afraid to voice an opinion (as long as his working environment allows – which it hasn’t over the past few seasons). One of the few ‘real’ personalities left.

  2. Crikey Joe, if he was being “diplomatic” during his career with Red Bull, I am really looking forward to see how he frames the term “forthright”!!

    1. For a moment there you see me off looking for a story that Tony F had put his team out of their misery 😉

  3. I would love to see those, but I am going to guess BBC America will ignore them and they wont show here in the USA.

  4. Sounds good to me. I’ve always liked the way that Webber has been pretty honest with his remarks despite all the PR pressure in the background.

  5. Well that’s good, Mark seems to be one of the few F1 drivers who has a sense of A) motor racing history, and B) that there is a world outside the F1 bubble! Shame about Gary A, his take on matters technical was very good, and enhanced the BBC output in my opinion. Just as an aside, Vettel gets so much stick from people on blogs ands forums, but he is also, like Mark, an actual fan himself, and demonstrates a good insight into the history of the sport…more so that some so called fans and critics of him do in fact.

  6. Looking forward to hearing his unfiltered opinion now that he’s no longer with RedBull

  7. Some of it, but Gary Anderson was the best thing about the BBC coverage. His explanations about why things did/didn’t work and why changes were being made to cars were second to none in my opinion and he will be greatly missed by me.

    1. Also missed by me. From what I can glean from the web (all of it hearsay) he did not walk. Sad decision as he gave a real nuts and bolts feel to the coverage.

      1. The reports suggest that Anderson didn’t chose to leave the BBC but was pushed out due to ever increasing pressure on the BBC to cut costs.

          1. Sadly, it’s tv for the masses. I doubt anyone but a reasonable fan would have heard of GA (or even understand the subjects he was discussing). More would’ve heard of MW and his (hopefully forthright) opinions should go down well.

            I do dispair of this dumbing down going on at the moment. We now have the Sky F1 team making video’s picking their favourite numbers. Lest we forget Brundle promising coverage aimed at the true F1 fan…

            1. I don’t agree about Sky dumbing down. Yes, Sky do things to attract new viewers but you only have to look at the air time they give to Ted Kravitz to see they also cater for the hardened fan. Did you not see the 30 mins after each day of testing where he analysed all the goings on in great depth?

              1. No, fair point there, I agree. Maybe I should’ve said they could do without the numer picking rubbish. I’m too much of a geek.

          2. I guess that depends on whether the BBC or one of his sponsors is paying him for the increased exposure (Coulthard seems to wear his Red Bull suit on a pretty regular basis)..?

    2. I agree, especially when Ferrari were having problems early on in the season (2012?), and he pointed out exactly where on the car they were having problems with aerodynamics. Which they subsequently changed. He knows his onions, that man, and he leaves a big gap.

  8. Joe are you able to explain why on earth the BBC dropped Gary Anderson? The man is a national treasure and I will really miss him.

    Adding Mark is fantastic – u am a fan for life. Imagine the three of you on stage after a few drinks! Headlines would be made and careers would end.

      1. Is that 10% of fans who watch the races, or 10% of the fans who watch the whole BBC show, red button etc. Looking at Autosport, F1 Racing et al I think that more than 10% of the content for F1 is technical.

      2. Yeah and the other 90% are in to a spectacle. So makes no sense to deprive the 10% when (up till now) no one has done much sensible to create a spectacle!

      3. He’s a classic “boffin”. Some love him for it, some hate him but most just don’t care and his dull voice makes it all a bit of an endurance test.

        Personally, I love him to bits.

      4. Joe do you get the chance to watch Gary in action a lot? I always wonder what is playing in the media center – just the world feed or can you choose among the various broadcasters? I’m assuming you do not watch BBC iPlayer much given your busy schedule.

        After watching him for a year I think Gary Anderson answers the question “why is team X faster than team Y” on any given day better than anyone else on the impressive Sky and BBC broadcast teams. That will be even more important this year.

        Losing Ted Kravitz seemed horrific, but Gary has been a revelation. I put him up on the pedestal with you Joe – an deeply experienced F1 guy you can trust for real information rather than blowing smoke and hoping we don’t figure it out. Gary explains much more than mere technical details – he gets into the mindset of the team and what they are thinking – who else can do that? I love listening to Brundle and Coulthard, but Gary brings a unique perspective to the picture which even experienced drivers cannot.

        What great sport does not have complex details to digest? Without the right guide it’s impossible to pick up the fine details of the sport as you are watching, and therefore impossible to care about them.

        Anyone can improve. I’m sure Gary could adjust his style to make it more appealing to the average fan, but I’ll bet you far more than 10 percent want to hear from Gary on the BBC – technical or otherwise.

        Losing Gary is a bad sign – I don’t like what it says about the future of F1. People who invest the time to understand a sport are going to stick around – possibly for a lifetime. The rest will come and go as they please, unless chased away by spreadsheet-toting mercenaries trying to pump up the valuation of their next deal by increasing prices until the bubble bursts.

        Gary has the great passion for Formula One that you value so much. He should be inspiring us as a member of the BBC broadcast team – damn it!

        1. Gary is a very old friend. We were in Formula 3 together. I think he’s brilliant and a great loss to the BBC. However I do understand why the decision was taken. Those who love technical things may be vocal but they are only 10 percent of the audience. I know this is true from many different surveys over time, including one here on this blog. If one shapes the programming for 10 percent, one risks boring the other 90 percent. A balance is needed and I think Gary was probably a bit too technical for the Beeb.

          1. You’re probably right Joe. Still, a huge loss. I’d much rather they get rid of DC if I’m honest. I really don’t see what he brings to the whole package.

          2. Doesn’t he have a column now for Autosport?

            I think Sky’s coverage is top notch, it’s a shame the way the BBC’s has gone.

          3. Perhaps he was butting heads with management in terms of his role and how much time and resources he was being given to properly report the radical technical changes this season. His reaction to stupidity may not have been very diplomatic – part of the reason he is so entertaining.

            Surveys are limited. The world is full of failed products that were focus group darlings.

            Losing Gary is wrong and we all know it.

            Okay I’ll stop. For now.

            F1 needs world class coverage to compete – it’s not going in the right direction.

          4. Gary was unquestionably the strongest member of the BBC team, and I am very sad that they have let him go. Even those with no direct interest in his technical insight will have appreciated the ever-reliable “you’ll need a 35.3 to be safe” as the light went green for qualifying: he was very seldom wrong.

            I have always loved racing, but – these things happen – I have a son who is crazy about football. I sometimes join him for BBC’s Match of the Day, and it is excellent. It is definitely not geared to those who have no technical interest in football. Passionate, articulate insiders shed light on the action, and I feel I get far more from their open disagreement than I would if the analysis was deliberately filtered for passers-by like me.

            Gary Anderson is the very definition of a passionate, articulate insider: if there was someone like him on Sky, I might even pay…

      5. BBC sell coverage on to other countries. In South Africa we get DC and Co live for every race. But we get just the commentary, not the pre and post race features. So I’d guess that BBC don’t make as much money out of those parts of their package and out of the people involved.

        1. Maybe they should have cut the person that used to spend her days making fun of F1 while hosting MotoGP. I bet she costs a damn sight more than Gary.

  9. He’s still in the red bull ‘family’ though isn’t he, so I’m not expecting anything too amazing

    1. I think that’s more about Dietrich than Seb, Helmut or Christian. An early “post F1” interview with Nigel Roebuck seems to indicate a likely lack of punch-pulling…

    2. Just as David Coulthard is still in the “family” as well.

      The number of times over the last few years that David has tried to defend Reb Bull, when they have clearly been trying to spin a story.

  10. BBC getting rid of Gary Anderson and dumbing down in the season with the biggest technical changes is just another demonstration of the lunacy at the BBC when it comes to F1. Mark Webber can be quite open but still don’t think you’ll get any insight into his time at Red Bull as he is still has ties to them I believe.

  11. That’s excellent news, but another addition to the BBC team should be a replacement for Gary Anderson. Joe, do you know why he left? The internet suggests that he was dropped. Do you know if that is true?

    1. Maybe because at the final race in Brazil at the end he was the only one of the Beeb crew who didnt have on a Webber appreciation tee shirt (which I thought was pathetic) stupid decision by the BBC, I dont want to hear what Webber has to say he makes out he his hard and his own man but he towed the line and did what he was told, he probably costs the Beeb 5 times as much as Gary Anderson who is an excellent tech guy.

    1. The BBC have given Alan McNish a bigger role now GA has gone and his technical input is more relevant than anyone – with his past few years driving the hybrid Audi’s – plus he explains things in a way that is easy for anyone to understand whilst giving similar insight that you hear from Brundle as he is an ex F1 driver, Le Mans winner and all round good bloke – a great replacement for GA. The BBC experts team will be great this year!

  12. Hopefully, this will be available in all regions of the world… much of the F1 material (video) on the BBC website is unavailable worldwide…

  13. I hope this will not be part of the BBC F1 coverage, but of a seperate program ? It’s not clear from your article .

    Personally I don’t watch the BBC F1 stuff anymore .

  14. for the dedicated followers of F1 the news that mark webber will be in the frame from time to time will only enhance their enjoyment. mark is a highly skilled driver with an exceptional understanding of what makes F1 tick. great news.

  15. Whilst I loved GA technical reports I can see the BBC saying only 10% appreciated his technical input therefore we now don’t need to send a man all round the world, and Hotel him … therefore big cost cut. …… Whereas Mark just pop into our studios and run through some past footage and chat about previous races does seem to the ” Thin Edge of the Wedge” for us Racing fans. Personally, I think Mark is great and opinionated but without people building cars, people getting them to races, people running teams, then there would be no Drivers opinions ( plus I have to say People who are good Journalists also make up the total package. Thanks Joe)

  16. PS – They could have left GA in studio in UK and added his input – without him travelling – He is well aware of technicalities here – It could have easily worked. Massive savings completed.

    1. Travelling with the circus is expensive from an individual perspective, but in comparison the amounts spent on TV rights it’s a drop in the ocean.

      Joe’s own estimates put the cost of following the circus “comfortably” at around $40k – call it $50k to be nice and that’s near enough £30k.

      1. Joe is pointing out that perhaps 90% of the audience didn’t care about the tiny technical differences. Therefore, as worthy as GA’s input was, it risked alienating a large chunk of the audience.

  17. ‘Yeah, no, look, it isn’t what we hoped for, but, er…yeah. We can’t deny we’re on the back foot but it is what it is and, er, we’re, er, we’ll give to give it a red hot go and see what happens. Tomorrow’s another day so…yeah. You never know.’

    And everyone is delighted the BBC have signed up for more of this?

    While not denying Webber’s views might be interesting, I would much prefer them in print, with at least three editors between him and the printing press.

      1. exactly so monsieur Saward, thank you and as a former independent producer myself it is revealing that MW has determined that his brand needs to shift with him so that the World Endurance Chanpionship ( WEC ) can raise awareness about itself and grow their audience.
        well done.

    1. You just summarised just about every drivers’ post-quali, pre-race comment of the last ten years (with the exception of the inevitable one-finger salutes by Seb V, or Kimi’s monosyllabic grunts).

  18. Is it clear whether or not Mark’s contributions will be part of the BBC’s race day coverage vs. broadcast in some other time window? (Or maybe the news is too new to know anything about it…)

    I ask because I would have to take special steps to get it, and it would be helpful to know exactly what it is I’m trying to do…

  19. Good news about Mark joining the BBC team alongside McNish, but still, it will not replace Gary Anderson insights on technical matters.
    In fact, its a shame that GA will not be there anymore in a season where technical aspects will most likely dominate the show… But I understand this is the precise reason why he won’t be there anymore (I read somewhere bbc didn’t want to put emphasisis on technical aspect anymore, hence dropping GA)

  20. The best news I’ve seen today is that Jack Nicholls will be joining Radio Five for at least four live F1 broadcasts. For those who haven’t heard his work commentating for less watched channels, he is a young presenter and very much the future in my opinion as far as live F1 broadcasting goes. He understands the sport, the drivers and his unrivalled enthusiasm for what he is doing is really refreshing. So while I shall miss Anderson’s input greatly, things could be much worse!

  21. Be good to hear Webber’s views…hope the BBC show some sportscar racing this season. Why not give us Le Mans on the red button?

    1. The WEC (bar Le Mans) will only on Motors TV and RLM, with Le Mans exclusively on Eurosport.
      Also, I believe, one of the regulations surrounding the Red Button is a requirement for the main show to be one of the BBC channels in some way, shape or form. Simply no chance of endurance racing appearing on the BBC due to the length of the events.

      1. we can pray for highlights, at least, one day…think the last time the BBC showed a Le Mans programme was about 1999 when Webber of all people was in all sorts of trouble with the Mercedes! I wish some terrestrial coverage could be sorted out somehow…no doubt the budget WILL be blown on curling now I’ve said that!

    2. I don’t see any new motorsport being shown on the BBC any time soon. The BBC only seems interested in sports that are dirt cheap to show and tick a diversity box. Hence the hard sell on Womens football since 2012 and track athletics, not realising that, although we may have enjoyed them during the olympics, its not something we’d want to watch every week. I predict a weekly Curling show on the BBC soon lol.

  22. Really heartened by the posts here (the remarks about Gary Anderson). I’m intrigued by Joe’s figure of 10% being interested in the technical aspects. It’s probably true globally but among a wide range of people I come into contact with, of all nationalities, we’re all able to talk to one degree or another about the technical aspects, the politics and the racing – even if it’s Marussia passing a Caterham.

    Gary was seriously let down by the BBC – when Sky rock up with a zillion inch plasma screen and Gary is left explaining a nuance or design or how a part is different for a particualr race using a DeskJet printed photo, a clipboard and a biro. He’s left looking like the rather dull geeky uncle whereas in fact this is the guy who has seen it all and done it all. His contribution is immense. He’s hidden now behind a paywall which will deminish his audience albeit bringing in a few $$$ for Autosport – if he was “free to air” there, the overall site would build numbers and pull in more advertising. But that’s a different story.

    Without people like Gary, F1 would be just some cars going round and round. He makes it real and although a spectator, brings you right into the heart of the sport.

  23. Interesting that MW seems to be positioning himself for a future in broadcasting in a few years time.

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