Why the BBC Does F1 Best – Final Part

Red Bull’s ascent – Turkey 2010

Within five seconds, it feels like we have already witnessed the entire 60 year history of Formula One flash before our eyes. The thing is, we probably have, but the human eye just cannot keep up with what the Beeb is showing us. Fortunately, that is not the point. The point is to demonstrate how hard it is to slip unnoticed into the sport, apparently. It’s another gravelly deep-voiced narrator for this one and he paints the picture of Red Bulls relatively rapid emergence well. The thunder sound effect is fantastically placed as in slow motion Vettel appears on the screen (or was it Webber? This video is too fast!) The old reverse fluid expansion (or whatever it’s supposed to be) visuals from 2009’s “The Scream of Science” are back to add a bit of drama, too. Then, twelve seconds in, there’s an actual bull. That’s right, the BBC are comparing Red Bull to an actual bull. It’s so daft it actually sort of works. They also managed to get hold of Red Bull’s promotional 2009 video which showed the car exploding to reveal every little part. Then it’s back and forth, back and forth, exhaust and bull nose breathing. The history of Red Bull in Formula One is well documented over the remainder of the video, from the Sauber years, through the sale of Jaguar, the acquisition of a second team, Coulthard retiring and a double second place in the 2009 championships. It sets up the Turkish Grand Prix nicely through carefully chosen words and a dramatic undertone that never quite climaxes. Of course, this race will always be synonymous with Red Bull, but for all the wrong reasons. Webber and Vettel famously collided on the back straight, ruining an almost certain 1-2 for the team and gifting victory to Lewis Hamilton who took his first win of the season before winning the very next race in Canada. Red Bull would recover though and took both championships both in 2010 and in 2011.

New Silverstone – Britain 2011

Halfway through this video, you would be forgiven for thinking it was perhaps an advert for a Gillette razor. As it is, it’s actually portraying the new Silverstone “wing” complex, in space for some reason. This is almost the antithesis of the 2009 intro, which focussed on the history of the circuit; this video is very much about the future and a new era for Silverstone. There is a lot of close ups looking down at tarmac speeding past below and, like I said, random space shots, but it sort of works with the Social Network soundtrack. Of course, the production is clever and the history footage is shown reflected in the blade turning through the ether. It is hard to tell when you have seen the glimpses of the new structure whether it is the real thing, a model or Computer Generated Imagery. The speed of the footage is so fast and futuristic it doesn’t feel real. But then, to be honest, neither did the concept of Silverstone being in anyway “cutting edge” until not so long ago. The ending choice of words seems a little clumsy: “Brace yourselves / Because this is / And you are in / Pole position”. But the exploding Union Jack at the end rather than an actual climax feels right and this lo-fi approach is something the BBC should be applauded for, just for trying something different and grabbing the viewers’ attention as a result.

The sexiest video ever? – Singapore 2011

Ever since Kanye West and Rihanna teamed up to produce 2010’s “All of the Lights” it has been screaming out for someone to make a cover like this for Singapore. The excitement is huge as you see greyscale macro images of the track and its phenomenal surroundings whilst the voices of Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Jenson Button describe the anticipation and importance of the event in context with the other races in a Formula One season. The music at this point is not actually “All of the Lights”, but the prelude to it. This is the track before it in Kanye’s masterpiece 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and it flows flawlessly into “All of the Lights”. The BBC leave just a greyscale track shot with one illuminated sign flashing the reflection of an unseen light stage left as the interlude fades. And then it happens. The words “All of the Lights” appear on the screen, the third word fading before the last emerges, and they flash in dazzling fonts just like in Kanye’s original video (which you should remind yourself of in order to fully appreciate how well Aunty has recreated it). There’s very little to say about this video. Visually, it’s stunning and captures everything that is awesome and majestic about modern Grand Prix racing. And like every other BBC Formula One video, it is the attention to detail that makes a good piece great. Look out for something the BBC like to do a lot, which is match what is happening on screen to the lyrics of the song playing. As Rihanna sings “fast cars, shooting stars”, a high vertical shot of a Ferrari appears before being replaces by the classic spectacular Singapore fireworks. And the song isn’t just faded out or abruptly finished either – obviously they could not have used the full four minutes or whatever but they fade the chimes at the end in halfway through seamlessly and unless you know the tune well, you won’t even notice. A sublime effort that captures not just the excitement of a Grand Prix, but everything that is unique about this particular event. That is what sets the BBC’ s productions apart.

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2 thoughts on “Why the BBC Does F1 Best – Final Part

  1. A cracking finale John – all 4 posts are superb. you certainly saved the best till last in my eyes with the intro to the Singapore GP being my personal favourite. the amount of time, thought & effort that goes into each race is quite amazing. My vote goes to the BBC over Sky anyday. I just love the honesty that you get with the coverage and presenting with the BBC.

  2. The BBC offers such fantastic coverage of F1 i’m gutted it’s part moving to Sky. I hope the presenting team stay together. A good compilation of coverage above Jon.

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