Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Inspired by McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris recording a brand new McLaren anthem, we've had a dig into F1 history to decide on the best 5 pieces of music to grace the sport. There was plenty of deadwood to work through, but see if you decide with our picks below!
5. Blackbeat - Apollo 440
ITV used a number of songs for its F1 theme tune between 1997 and 2008, and 'Blackbeat' is one of the best of a particularly mediocre bunch.
'Blackbeat' was released in 1999 and ITV scooped up the song for it's coverage between 2000 and 2002. Unlike most songs used by ITV, it was relatively unchanged for its theme tune (although the vocals are removed). We reckon that time has been unkind to the song as a theme tune, and that it was probably more effective in its heyday - sneaking it into our Top 5 as a result.
4. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Reworked) - Bachman Turner Overdrive
You would never, ever listen to the original version of 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet' and think that it would make a good theme tune for F1, but the rework is relatively effective and so in our eyes edges ahead of Apollo 400 and other contenders, such as Jamiroquai's commissioned theme or Moby's 'Lift Me Up' (which had a particularly bizarre accompanying video)
The original was released in 1974, but it wasn't until 2003 that ITV adapted it into its F1 theme for its coverage over the following 3 seasons. The theme removes all the vocals, like with 'Blackbeat' and is focused heavily on the electric guitar- and really does sound very different to the original.
There concludes our brief flirtation with ITV's F1 theme tunes. Let's be honest, there wasn't too much to shout about, but we promise it improves quickly from here...
3. Formula 1 Theme - Brian Tyler
Sure, it might not be as iconic as some of F1's other 'theme tunes', but the sport's creatively named official theme tune is a very public symbol of the attempted transformation of brand and image undertaken by Liberty Media since they acquired the sport in 2017.
Introduced in 2018, film composer Brian Tyler's work is a first for F1 as an original theme of the sport, rather than one for F1 coverage by a TV company, and is used to mark the start of the imminent build up to each race. The song was orchestrated for full symphonic ensemble, with drum kit, and launched with a music video interdispersed with some of the most dramatic moments in the sports history, encapsulating F1's history, passion and tragedy into just over 4 minutes. We think Christian Albers will be chuffed to have his own moment of glory amongst the greats (see 0:44).
As for the music itself? Well, it's sort of catchy, but not the type that gets stuck in your head leaving you want to rip your own ears off. It also ebbs and flows between a heroic theme in the French Horns, to the building of tension with quiet yet fast moving Strings- which gives F1 plenty of options for using different sections of the theme across its coverage extensively (race build up, post race, montages, etc). It's generally been received warmly by fans and we imagine that the theme will stay around for a long time to come.
2. Overture from Carmen - Bizet
Allegedy the idea of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the Carmen Overture was used at the spraying of champagne on the podium from as early as 1994 and is now part of the podium furniture. Anyone who grew up watching races in the 21st century will have such an affinity with this piece of music - and how the TV coverage would shift at this point from the commentators (the likes of Murray Walker, James Allen and now David Croft) back to the presenters (Jim Rosenthal, Steve Rider, Jake Humphrey, and Simon Lazenby),.
Anything that brings classical music to a wider audience can only be a good thing in our eyes. Written in 1875, the Carmen Overture trumps the rest of the pieces in terms in age and certainly manages to convey the feeling of pure joy and release at the culmination of the podium.
1. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
There's really no competition on this one, and reminds any long standing F1 fan of a better time when every race was live on free to air TV. Written in 1977, 'The Chain' was introduced to F1 a year later and was synonymous with the BBC's coverage. The song's original meaning was to symbolise the internal tension within Fleetwood Mac, in a romantic and professional sense.
The theme has since been used by Channel 4 on its highlights, but the combination of Fleetwood Mac followed by Murray Walker introducing the race coverage is unrivalled in terms of F1 and it's music. The return of F1's coverage to the BBC in 2009 felt like a romantic and nostalgic reunion - and hearing 'The Chain' at the start of coverage was no doubt the main reason for this.
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