Have You Ever Viewed A Race On Foreign TV?

Have You Ever Viewed A Race On Foreign TV?

Vitantonio Liuzzi - 2007 Spanish Grand PrixThis is just a reminder for those who have come here expecting my usual prompt results post and extensive and superbly-written race report (cough), I am in fact away at the moment on holiday. Well, I just had to escape the rainy weather in Britain. But do not fear, for while I am away I have pre-published a few posts that will (I hope) appear at selected times during my vacation. And that is exactly what I have done today. As I type, it is 7.30pm on Friday 27th July, but when you see this, you should have just watched the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hopefully, I did as well, which reminds me of my last vacation to the hills of Italy…

A couple of years ago I came to the very same hotel I am sitting in right now as you read this, tucked away in hills of the Pratamagno Mountains. While trying to cool off one afternoon in my hotel room, it suddenly dawned on me that the Hungarian Grand Prix was taking place. I turned on the television and scanned through the channels until I found what resembled Formula One – the picture wasn’t great, but it was enough for me to get my fix.

It isn’t necessary for me to hear commentary on a race, but listening to insightful comments from experienced people is certainly a pleasant experience – thank you Martin Brundle, by the way. But with today’s timing captions on the screen, and even live-timing on the official Formula One website, the commentators job is more of an extra to those who know a little about the sport already.

But turning the volume up in my unbearably hot room brought a whole new dimension to the world of watching Formula One. You see, the visual feed normally comes from FOM, in other words, Bernie Ecclestone. So that is going to be the same the world over. But the commentary and pre/post race stuff is down to the individual companies that run the show in their countries. In Italy, that was RAI at the time. And while my Italian is only in its infancy, hearing Michael Schumacher speak German in the post-race press conference, to have it dubbed over in English (presumably at FOMs end) and to then have that dubbed over in Italian (presumably at RAIs end) was a concoction too much for my ears!

Admittedly, this only happened when a driver was speaking in his own native language (and wasn’t Italian, of course), but for quite a while I struggled to actually understand what was being said. My mind automatically picked out the English, but hearing two other languages being spoken, one quietly underneath and one clearly in the audio-foreground, it was quite a headache-inducing experience.

So what about you, my dear readers. Have you ever vacationed somewhere and watched a race that has had similar commentary madness? Do you find it easy to follow the on-screen action despite hearing something through the speakers that you don’t necessarily understand? Are the shows just as good as your own country’s production? Have you ever holidayed in the UK, watched a race and thought, “One of them is good, but the other is just annoying”?

Formula One, F1, Commentary, Language, Vacation


  • I was in Spain for the 1999 French GP.

    The coverage wasn’t live (though I think it was advertised that it would be). There was no buildup at all – beginning the coverage during the parade lap. Then after 2 or 3 red lights came on they cut to an ad, which lasted until the cars were rounding the first corner.

    Every so often there was an ad break where a huge chunk of laps just vanished, with no replay of the incidents missed. I don’t even think the podium was shown.

    I swore I’d never go back to Spain during the F1 season until they got decent coverage.

  • Sidepodcast, that’s what I came here to say!

    Anyway, like Oliver I don’t need the commentators (but I don’t think much to Brundle. Or Allen but that seems to go without saying) so watching the race in Spain/France/Italy isn’t a problem. Watching Bahrain in a Spanish race circuit cafe was fun, we were outnumbered 3/50!

  • I watched the 2006 German GP in Italy. I found it pretty easy to follow what was going on, and being Australian I was particularly perked up until Webber’s retirement.

    The most novel part for me was watching a European GP on a Sunday afternoon, instead of the middle of the night.

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