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Andy Gray fired for offensive behaviour, but does F1 suffer the same problem? // The BBC suffer from similar sexism in their Formula One braodcasts

Published by Mr. C

Sky Sports have sacked football presenter Andy Gray following new evidence of unacceptable behaviour. The move comes after earlier disciplinary action against the presenter regarding remarks made about a female assistant referee.

It's just his imagination.
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Today's news is unlikely to make many waves in the world of Formula 1, but one wonders if perhaps it should.

The BBC recently announced ex-F1 driver David Coulthard would partner Martin Brundle in the commentary box for the 2011 season. However, handing Coulthard a microphone for an extended period may turn out to be a risky move, given the driver's previous attitude to women working in the paddock.

In fact it could be argued that the BBC's newly appointed voice of F1, has in the past said things on-air, considerably more controversial than Andy Gray has been discovered saying off-air. No doubt the BBC's policy for handling such circumstances differs from that of Sky Broadcasting, but it's worth noting that Coulthard has long been considered by fans to be bordering on the offensive, when it comes to interaction with members of the opposite sex.

Extrapolate this

Back in 2009 when Coulthard was first signed to the BBC as a pundit, Sidepodcast commented on a conversation between then pitlane reporter Holly Samos and Coulthard at the German Grand Prix. The inference made was that Samos was "propositioning" Coulthard as she knelt down beside him to hold the microphone closer.

The conversation was broadcast on BBC Radio 5Live and although we don't have a copy of the audio or a transcript of the conversation, our immediate responses were captured for posterity. Some sample comments:

  • "dc is disgusting."
  • "i like DC but that did annoy me."
  • "it's important to note that DC is a child."

If you were to wind the clock back further, you might recall David having a similar attitude to other female pitlane reporters, such as Louise Goodman. In the following video Coulthard likens the adjustment of his steering wheel to Louise's body parts.

Transcript of video at 00:40s

Louise Goodman: "Have you been practicing with that pitlane speed limiter?"

David Coulthard: "Yeah, I have just been imagining it's your nipples."

Move with the times

It is important to note that none of these quotes are recent. People's attitude and tolerance to such matters are changing rapidly and there's every possibility that Coulthard's opinions have significantly changed in the interim, or he's at least able to keep them to himself nowadays.

However, Sky seemed more than happy to trawl their archives for compromising evidence against one of their lead presenters - and remember Gray was hung out to dry for comments made off the air.

In a world where football is taking hard look at its perceived attitude to women in the workplace, does Formula 1 really want to be left behind? I for one shall be keen to listen closely to the BBC's F1 commentary lineup this season.

Update: Because of some confusion in the comments, I have included the video evidence that supposedly contributed to Sky ending their relationship with Andy Gray.