The most luxurious press box in all of sports — the BBC F1 Monaco trackside yacht

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Saturday, May 29, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


BBC Forumla 1 Monaco Grand Prix trackside yacht
JAKE HUMPHREY, DAVID COULTHARD, EDDIE JORDAN BROADCAST FROM TRACKSIDE YACHT - BBC

BBC Forumla 1 Monaco Grand Prix hairpin coastline view
COASTAL VIEW SURROUNDING THE MONACO HAIRPIN - BBC

The transition of Formula 1 from ITV to BBC on British television is going swimmingly. For 11 years the camerawork on ITV was the gold standard for sports broadcasting. When BBC gained the rights to FIA in 2009, there was some trepidation about how that coverage would continue.

It was not needed. The BBC immediately made its mark on F1 with a depth and breadth of layered reporting that does not dumb itself down for viewers. Instead, intricate and many times secretive equipment details are mixed in with team politics, as well as the first person experiences of former drivers David Coulthard, Martin Brundle, and former owner Eddie Jordan. The camerawork has steadily improved, and often takes chances with angles or locations to open a new window into the race for viewers.

A 1500 frames per second camera was used the last two years at the German Grand Prix to give a fascinating look at the amount of stress F1 cars take on corners. In its second season at the luxurious Monaco Grand Prix, the British Broadcasting Corporation broke out the big guns… a trackside yacht.

In a race organization filled with extravagance and ostentatiousness, Monaco is at the top of the mountain. Alongside one of the greatest concentrations of wealth in the world, terraced hillsides and yacht-lined shores created a “tableau of colors” according to one announcer. The pre-race program was hosted from the BBC yacht, with post-race festivities moving to the swimming pool alongside a nearby Red Bull Racing yacht for victorious drivers Mark Webber (1st) and Sebastian Vettel (2nd).

The race itself, normally a very tight and orderly affair, was one of the most wild at Monaco in modern history. A crash in qualifying forced Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to start the race from the back of the pack. An early saftey car allowed Alonso to make the mandatory pitstop, and he proceeded to blitz through the field finishing in 6th. Under caution, 7-time world champion and 5-time Monaco champion Michael Schumacher passed Alonso for 6th on the final corner, a result he was forced to relinquish after the race. Schumacher was dropped from 6th to 12th after the ensuing penalty.

The Grand Prix in Monaco also has an odd tradition of racers going about their own way after crashing out on the track. In 1988 sharkspage favorite Ayrton Senna famously crashed his McLaren just before the tunnel, and he walked to his nearby Monaco apartment without saying a word to his team or the media. In 2006 another sharkspage favorite, Kimi Raikkonen, took his shirt off and suntanned from his trackside yacht after crashing on the course.

This year it was rookie Nico Hulkenberg crashing out on his second lap, and deciding to watch the race from the side of the track instead of returning to the paddock. In a wealthy Mediterranean principality where many of Europe’s elite own a residence for this race weekend alone, you can not blame a driver for wanting to sit back and enjoy the view.

[Update] On-board video and Monaco track analysis from Mark Webber’s 2010 pole position lap in qualifying. Webber also beat Hamilton for pole position in tomorrow’s race at Istanbul Park in Turkey.

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