How to commentate on motorsport: an expert guide

How to commentate on motorsport: an expert guide

Ever listened to an F1 commentator and thought you could do better? Well it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Until standing down at the end of last year, Ben Edwards had been the voice of F1 on UK terrestrial television since 2012, first for the BBC and since 2016 for Channel 4.

That was actually Edwards’s third stint commentating on F1: he voiced coverage for Eurosport in 1995 and ’96, and later for the Sky’s short-lived F1 Digital+ service in 2002. He has also put his voice to a host of other motorsport categories: he did international commentary for the US-based Champ Car series in the late 1990s, and was the long-time commentator for the British Touring Car Championship. He’s also commentated on A1 Grand Prix, British F3 and GT, rallying and even power boat racing.

Here's Ben's view on commentary, and his tips on how to get it right:

Commentating on motorsport has been my passion for 30 years and while I have stepped back from Channel 4’s F1 coverage, the microphone is still a part of me. That moment of going ‘live’ on-air and communicating with the viewer never fails to boost adrenalin levels and sharpen my mind.

Raceday build-up is intense; I avoid drinking too much coffee as my heart rate is already increasing and I steer away from a generous lunch as I don’t want to be heard burping on the formation lap. Walking through the paddock near race time helps me pick up the vibe of the event as drivers are suiting up and heading for their cars. 

Over the years, I have had several jet lag induced dreams of being caught in a crowd and failing to reach the commentary box before the the grid takes off; I make sure to be settled in my booth at least 20 minutes before ‘Lights Out’. My environment is normally a small rectangular room mounted high in a grandstand with TV screens and timing monitors blocking much of the view out of the window, but I learnt many years ago to focus on the screens alone because that is what the audience is watching.

I lay out a few sheets of paper on the desk; a circuit map, the grid formation and a handwritten A4 document that I created the night before, summarising key facts relevant to this race. Alongside, my plastic-sleeved folder contains extensive research; I spend a couple of days a week updating and honing the information, some of it coming from dedicated statistical experts in the world of F1. 

Before fitting the headphones, I’ll do some warm up exercises and voice preparation. I remember seeing Murray Walker do the same in 1995 when we were both commentating on F1 in separate but transparent booths. Murray was a true inspiration to me and his recent loss was a very sad moment. I copy his technique of standing when commentating to provide the breath and energy required at key moments. 

Like him, I prefer to use a handheld lip-microphone. Thankfully I have never had to share the specific item as Murray did with James Hunt, although a technical problem in Brazil one year had John Watson and me wrestling over a standard old fashioned cable telephone as we voiced the action. 

The last notes - Авто

most read news

#Авто

The Sportback is the five-door member of the A3 family and very popular it is, too, with around six times as many of them on the used car market as there are three-door models. The two extra doors
подробнее...

As this is written, there’s a 2015-registered 911 Carrera 3.0 PDK with 28,000 miles and full Porsche service history advertised for £59,895. It’s an early example of the facelifted 911 launched in
подробнее...

As this is written, Renault showrooms across the land are being emptied of their few remaining unregistered, old-model Capturs as the all-new version pushes at the gates. In fact, you can order the
подробнее...

Stirling Moss’s antics on the Monte-Carlo Rally were a far cry from the flat-out drama of the Mille Miglia. But still his three successive attempts on the world’s most illustrious rally between 1952
подробнее...

Stirling Moss’s antics on the Monte-Carlo Rally were a far cry from the flat-out drama of the Mille Miglia. But still his three successive attempts on the world’s most illustrious rally between 1952
подробнее...

Who’d have thought the old Stuttgart taxi would have morphed into the sumptuous thing it is today, with its S-Class-aping looks, lashings of tech, a sophisticated drivetrain and soothing road manners?
подробнее...

The Goodwood Revival blasted back in style last weekend after its pandemic-induced hiatus, as the best historic racers in the world once again took on a cast of famous names from the past and present
подробнее...

Aiden Moffat, Jake Hill and four-time champion Colin Turkington all took victories in the latest British Touring Car Championship event at Croft, while three strong finishes from title holder Ash
подробнее...

Nineteen-year old Lizzie Dudley from Cambridge has emerged victorious in the inaugural Autocar Shelsley Walsh Young Drivers’ Championship, scoring a resounding overall victory over five hillclimb
подробнее...

The Nissan Leaf was the first mainstream family-sized electric car to hit the UK when it was launched in 2011.Today, with over 25,000 Mk1 and Mk2 versions sold, it can also claim to be the first used
подробнее...

Hagrid on wheels is how Autocar’s testers describe this generation of the Audi Q7. It’s hard to disagree, Audi’s once top-of-the-range SUV being big but not beautiful. Capable, too, thanks to its
подробнее...

Take one Golf, raise it up, give it a roomier and more practical body and voilà: you’ve got a Tiguan. The SUV even shares many of the same engines with its hatchback sibling but optional four-wheel
подробнее...

The BMW 5 Series saloon of 2010-17 offers an almost unbeatable combination of performance, economy and build quality in the executive car class – especially in tax-busting 520d SE trim. In some areas,
подробнее...

Praga Cars, the Czech sports car manufacturer, has confirmed a broadly UK-based one-make race series for 2022.Run under the Britcar Endurance banner, the grid will be capped at 24 Praga R1s and will
подробнее...

"What’s it werf, then?” It’s probably far too late and pretty much impossible to get a pound for every time I’ve been asked that.Usually I don’t really know; I gave up the trade books long ago and
подробнее...

The Ford Focus is so familiar and, to an extent, so respected, that it’s like legal tender on the used car market. The generation under discussion here is the Mk3 – but with a twist, since we’re
подробнее...

While the fully electric car is seen by many as the future of motoring, its total domination of the sales charts is a way off yet. A lack of charging infrastructure, high prices and, crucially, the
подробнее...

Sir Lewis Hamilton has further ensured his status as the most successful Formula One driver with his 100th victory in the Russian Grand Prix, ahead of his title rival Max Verstappen and the Ferrari of
подробнее...