N.B. A recording snafu has left me without a copy of Sky's quali coverage, so I thought I'd see how it feels to go back to BBC coverage after watching Sky most of the year to keep the site updated.
(Discussing the unpredictability)
DC: I don't see why this is a bad thing for Formula One. It's not like you've got some idiot winning a Grand Prix. They're all truly worthy winners of the Grands Prix, and all from teams that have winning DNA.
JH: What it is really, is that Eddie's frustrated that his predictions aren't coming through...
(Kobayashi likes orange juice)
LM: So, if you get on the podium this weekend, you'll be wanting to spray orange juice and not champagne?
KK: Orange juice. That's a good idea. You have to be ready.
LM: I'll go and tell Bernie!
(Eddie Jordan interviews Manisha Kaltenborn and Eric Boullier at the same time)
EJ: I'm going to ask them both the same questions, if they don't mind!
EJ: [Grosjean] was given his [second] chance by Eric - he has done a remarkable job. Can he possibly continue to win here?
EB: I would love him to continue to win, because that means that he won, you know?
DC: What does Nigel Mansell [title-winning clip], Ayrton Senna [title-winning clip], Damon Hill [title-winning clip], what do they all have in common? Even a David Coulthard? [Bins it in the pit lane at Adelaide 1995] I know what you're thinking. One of them was clearly too good-looking to be a racing driver - but in actual fact, the answer is that they all started racing in Formula Ford.
DC: It's incredible how much motorsport has moved on since I started. When I raced Formula Ford in 1989, it was basically, you turned up here with a mechanic, sponsor shirt, and you went racing. Now they're getting a full briefing, how to interact with the team, how to work with the engineers, how to deal with the media. Course, media's pretty easy. (Beat) Unless it's EJ.
(Final line of the segment)
DC: I feel like a young man again! Does that mean I can date young girls?
JH: Well, it hasn't stopped you for the past 20 years!
(DC parries and waffles about how it's like going home, compared to DTM which still feels a bit weird)
JH: And how is the dating going?
DC: Yes, indeed...so, er... [to EJ] you probably ran a Formula Ford team?
EJ: Sorry, I thought [DTM pronounced funny] was his son's name!
(Track guide with DC & Felipe Massa)
DC: Let me mic you up. Do you go down the top, or up the bottom? Ah, you go up.
FM: You go down?
DC: Which turn is this? It's like, twenty-something...
FM: Maybe...18, 19? No, no...21, 22? No...
DC: Actually, we'll ask Michael.
(They flag down a German on a moped)
DC: Sorry, we're trying to work out the corner number...we don't know...
(Schumacher looks suitably smug as he tells them where they are and drives off)
DC: ...what did he say? 19 and 20?
FM: 19 this one, 20 that one.
DC: I'm just always scared. I always think he's going to try and hit me...
DC: What stands out on this track as being a great corner?
FM: The bridge...(shrugs)
DC: The bridge! At least you didn't say "the exit from the circuit when you go to the airport"!
DC: Massa is only two tenths from pole position in this current part of Q2...and he's twelfth. Tell me I'm not imagining things; that is what's up on the screen.
(DC pooh-poohs Grosjean's chances of going to Q3)
BE: What about Romain Grosjean? He lost a little bit of time on the lap, it could put him in the top ten though, across the line he goes...and he goes fastest!
DC: Pffffffft! Where did that come from???
EJ: This is theatre! This is just theatre of the highest level. You just can't get your breath, that's what I'm saying. We are [b]redundant[/b] in this job at the moment Jake, because there's no such thing as a punter! We don't know what's going on! It's remarkable, absolutely fascinating stuff.
JH: Eddie, you're [i]never[/i] redundant.
EJ: I am redundant, please!
Here are some comments I have after watching BBC quali coverage
The BBC pre-show is still much better over Sky. The only area in which I'd take Sky over the BBC (aside from Marty's interest pieces, obviously) is when Ant Davidson and Ted Kravitz get technical; the computer and slow-mo graphics that they can use are exceptionally good. I find their interest pieces far duller than the BBC's. The presenting team has started to gel with the seemingly permanent addition of Johnny Herbert, but Fake Jake clearly doesn't have quite the same easy relationship that the real thing was able to gain very quickly with DC and EJ. For me EJ is the difference; when he appears on screen you've no idea what's going to happen next, and you know he's capable of anything. He brings a wonderful enthusiam and sense of unpredictability to everything, and nobody seems to mind that he's mad as a box of frogs - see how Boullier and Kaltenborn were enjoying a classic piece of EJ madness. He certainly isn't the most technically competent presenter ever, but he's such fun to watch.
During the race coverage I'm afraid that Sky have a clear advantage. Ben Edwards is a good commentator, but it seems to me like he became far too used to working with John Watson amd is struggling for chemistry with DC, who is in turn still feeling his way into his commentary role. I also noticed during quali that on a technical note, the engine noise of cars passing the commentary box was bleeding through very strongly and distractingly in the sound mix (presumably through the commentators' own microphones), which is quite unusual to say the least. On the other side Brundle and David Croft appear to have had almost instant chemistry and are well on their way to becoming the next classic team (succeeding Walker-Hunt and Walker-Brundle), which presumably scotches the idiotic rumour I heard circulating a while ago that Marty had vetoed working with Crofty at the BBC because they didn't get along with each other, or some such.
Finally, there is something that's just *right* about sitting down to F1 and hearing The Chain. Just Drive is a far more competent music selection for Sky than they usually come up with for their intros, but they will simply never be able to compete on that front.
So if I had a free choice I'd do what it seems a lot of people are doing and watch the BBC until the FOM ident, then switch over to Sky for the race; but there's a reason it's "Martin Brundle (and His Friends)", and that's why I'm watching Sky.
Updated: the same snafu also ate my live recording of the race, and it's only now that I've been able to get round to watching the highlights recording I was able to get.
(Back with Sky)
TK: In Valencia on Grand Prix weekend, life's a beach, and then you qualify.
(On the grid, Marty doorsteps Jenson Button)
MB: JB with his dancing shoes on...you wanna put your race boots on there, son?
JB: Yeah, these aren't so good for walking around in.
MB: What, they're that thin? Can I have a little poke...(he pokes the boots)...they're really thin, like slippers, aren't they?
(They segue into a discussion of brakes)
JB: ...On the way to the grid, you never really know, but there's no locking, even if you push very hard, which is good.
MB: You can't really attack it like the first lap of the race, can you?
JB: I dunno, can you remember that far back?
MB: Yeah I can, just about, actually. (Jenson mugs at the camera) Thank you, thank you very much.
JB: Oh, you raced, didn't you?
MB: I'm gonna give you the lucky nipple tweak again...
JB: You raced last weekend, didn't you?
MB: I did race last weekend. I was awesome. Did you not watch it?
JB: The young boys are quick, aren't they?
MB: Yeah they are, unfortunately. And brave.
JB: Quicker than their dad.
MB: And more importantly, they can see at night, as well.
(Then he grabs Maldonado)
MB: So, fantastic quali lap as usual. I wonder if it might be better to go to the toilets that way?
PM: That way?
MB: Yeah, I would go through the middle there.
(For the record, Martin drove a Zytek in the LMP2 class at Le Mans with his son Alex and Spaniard Lucas Ordóñez; they finished 15th overall and 8th in class on 340 laps. Best wishes also to Anthony Davidson, who was quite idiotically nerfed off in that race by a GT Ferrari and suffered an extremely nasty injury to his back.)
MB: Maldonado's a full metre behind his yellow line, here.
(Grosjean takes Hamilton)
DCr: Wonderfully committed move from Romain Grosjean! That was a joy to see!
MB: He's turning into a class Formula One driver, isn't he, second time around? He was hopeless first time, always seemed to be spinning around and getting it wrong, now that was a world-class overtake, and you don't see too many people putting manners on Lewis Hamilton!
MB: I mean, it theoretically wasn't on! Lewis had covered it, he left him his one space round the outside as he's obliged to do...but it really looked as if it was not workable, that move, and he's made it stick, and I don't think anyone's as surprised as Hamilton.
MB: Who says you can't overtake at Valencia?
DCr: Well, we've seen two astounding moves, one each from both of the Lotuses, we've seen Alonso do it as well, and I think everybody including me and you, Martin, were breathing in there, and not just because we didn't wanna show our waistlines...
MB: ...I am so massively impressed by the skill we've seen this afternoon in wheel-to-wheel combat.
DCr: And that's someone's straw hat, that has been, er, blown, maybe from the back of the grandstand, onto the track.
MB: I've never seen that before! In all the years I've covered this sport. Somebody's hat! Getting involved in a Formula One incident.
DCr: It's a fashion faux pas, that's got no place at a Grand Prix track.
MB: Vettel's got nothing in front of him, nothing behind him, he'll be wondering if he's in a race by himself. Which he kind of is, really.
DCr: This could end beautifully or in absolute disaster...let's see...eeeeeergh!
MB: Webber pits, he's had enough of that silliness.
DCr: Sebastian Vettel out on his own at the moment, but might just wanna watch the rerun of this race, it's a bit hectic behind him!
MB: Kobayashi will have to stop for a new front nose.
(Where else would he have a nose, Marty?)
MB: That could have been flying through the air in a heartbeat.
MB: That's the fashionable move of the day, isn't it, and it's worked every time I've seen it.
(Of the GP2 race)
DCr: No shortage of thrills, spills and laps behind the Safety Car. I think Bernd Maylander was probably eligible for a Fastest Lap bonus point.
(Safety Car deployed)
MB: And it's just missed Vettel! Not that he's obliged to get Vettel, but the timing is such. We've had that here before, haven't we, some Safety Car sagas.
(And it all goes off in the pit lane.)
DCr: Yellow flags waving once again as the marshals see Fernando Alonso and start their own little dance!
DCr: They are going absolutely wild in the stands here! Last night it was for Xavi Alonso, today it's for Fernando Alonso! Vettel could be out of this race! He is out of this race! Oh, Adrian Newey with his head in his hands, Spain with their hands in the air!
MB: Yellow flags still flying out there, but so are the Spanish flags!
(Grosjean retires as well)
MB: He's saying [to the marshals] "come on guys, where are you? Come and pull this thing out of the way!"
DCr: They're too busy dancing at Fernando Alonso's lead of this race!
MB: He's doing it himself, now.
(This one I think is all in the delivery)
MB: I wouldn't be able to be that calm [on the team radio], I'd be like "ifyoucanjustgetpasthimIthinkwecanWINTHIS" and of course he's just very very moderate.
DCr: Great weekend if you're Spanish, and happen to be called Alonso.