I want to bring attention to a podcast that I think somehow passes under the radar of many F1 fans. I certainly did not pay much attention to it until recently. But the editions I have heard have been A-grade stuff.
Okay, so it’s not the catchiest title, but the podcast itself is excellent. I assume it is similar to The Guardian‘s F1 podcast which was also fronted by Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips. For whatever reason the newspaper isn’t responsible for the podcast any more, but it lives on independently.
Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips are well-known voices to listeners of BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage of Formula 1 races. I can tell you, ‘The Inside Line’ is not an exaggeration when it comes to this pair. They certainly know what’s what in the paddock.
The Canadian GP podcast contains everything I have come to expect from this podcast — an incisive review of the race’s major events, and an insider’s take on the paddock gossip. Here, the experience of Maurice Hamilton’s decades writing about F1 and Ian Phillip’s journalistic background combined with the insider knowledge attained in his role as Force India’s Director of Business Affairs comes into its own.
This podcast contains the clearest explanation of the simmering war between Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley I have heard yet. There is also an explanation that every team in the paddock and everyone else involved wants a Concorde Agreement except the FIA. And the threats of a breakaway are quite real. And Luca di Montezemolo did mean to say that Max Mosley should step down. Ian Phillips explains why very well, and I’d recommend you go and listen to the podcast for the full explanation.
Then Maurice Hamilton’s connections allows him to bring us the fact that Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemolo were spotted having lunch together in New York. It’s pretty clear now that something is happening, and the discussion in this podcast has made that more clear than anything else I have read in the past few weeks.
This isn’t the first time The Inside Line podcast has come up with the goods. Of course, this year’s Monaco Grand Prix will always be remembered for the rotten luck that Adrian Sutil encountered. Who better, therefore, than Ian Phillips to get literally the inside line on the race’s top story? And being stationed in the Force India garage meant that they got a good interview with Adrian Sutil as well.
That podcast also contained a pretty trenchant criticism of Max Mosley’s letter that was sent out in the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix. To top it off, Ian Phillips had more information on the controversial press conference that was perceived to be rigged in Max Mosley’s favour, with Gerhard Berger reading out a prepared statement.
Clearly, the star of the show is Ian Phillips. But even when he was away, the podcast still came up with the goods. Because the person who stood in was no less a person than Mike Gascoyne, Force India’s Chief Technical Officer. He was surprisingly good in his analysis of the Turkish Grand Prix as well.
That weekend Maurice Hamilton got the credit for the “one car teams” theory that was beginning to emerge. That was because he repeated it on the Chequered Flag which is heard by more listeners. But listening to The Inside Line podcast, it’s clear that the theory actually originated with Mike Gascoyne.
If there is one problem with the Inside Line podcast is that it’s clearly recorded a bit too early for a full analysis of the race to take place. Often mechanical problems will be glossed over as it is still unclear why a driver retired. Some more time may be needed to allow the dust to settle. But there are probably time constraints as no doubt everyone involved in the podcast has other commitments to wrap up, flights to catch and so on.
However, by my reckoning there really is no better way of getting a feel of what’s really happening in the paddock than this podcast. It doesn’t have the same backing that the Chequered Flag gets from the BBC, so The Inside Line is not so well known. But it deserves to be heard by as many Formula 1 fans.