Formula 1 returned to its 'spiritual home' of the BBC for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne at the weekend, popularly welcoming the top flight back to Auntie to the traditional opening chords of The Chain - but how did Auntie's coverage stack up against that of ITV?

F1 switched to ITV back in 1997 after decades at the Beeb, and the independent broadcaster immediately set about ramping up the content of the programme, with more interviews, more on-board camera angles and more in-depth pre and post-race analysis.

In regaining the rights to host the world's most glamorous sport from the 2009 campaign onwards, the BBC promised to improve on that again, and pleased thousands of fans with the announcement that it was re-instating Fleetwood Mac's iconic 1970s anthem as the theme tune to the programme.

Moreover, it brought in a high-profile presenting team of Radio 5 Live stalwart Jonathan Legard and award-winning ex-grand prix ace Martin Brundle in the commentary box, together with recently-retired Red Bull Racing star David Coulthard, outspoken former team owner Eddie Jordan and erstwhile children's presenter Jake Humphrey in the 'studio' and Lee McKenzie and Ted Kravitz reporting from the pit-lane.

With advert breaks now a thing of the past once again, the BBC's coverage was certainly extensive, but - and here was the big 'but' for some - to take full advantage of that and all the post-race interviews and analysis, viewers had to have access to the interactive 'Red Button', with those not yet connected to digital missing out.

That was mitigated to some degree by significant coverage of the season build-up and opening race of 2009 across all of the corporation's platforms, from the internet to Radio 1 and Radio 2 - though some have suggested the extent of the plugging was a little over-the-top.

All-in-all, opinions thus far seem to be mixed on whether the return to BBC from ITV has been a beneficial move for the sport - and in fairness only time will tell. To have your say, follow the link just below to share your views...


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