Sky Sports’ new Formula One dream team

From next season, this will be the line-up of talented presenters and commentators that will front Sky Sports’ Formula One coverage.

From left to right: Former BAR F1 test driver Anthony Davidson; former BBC Radio 5 Live commentator David Croft; former BBC Radio 5 Live pitlane reporter Natalie Pinkham; ITV and BBC commentator Martin Brundle; Sky Sports‘ new anchorman Simon Lazenby; Sky Sports‘ presenter Georgie Thompson and former BBC pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz will be the main players as Sky become the joint British host – alongside the BBC – in broadcasting Formula One action in 2012.

The big headliners are that the former BBC Radio 5 commentary duo of David Croft and Anthony Davidson will be joining Martin Brundle in the main commentary box.

Croft will commentate alongside Brundle for every race, while Davidson will be used for each of the weekend’s practice sessions.

Sky’s pitlane reporters will be Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz, with the latter also co-presenting a new Formula One magazine show on Sky Sports with Georgie Thompson.

Martin Turner, Sky Sports Executive Producer, said: “In Brundle we have the outstanding F1 broadcaster – on the track and in broadcasting, he’s proved it time and again.

“Working alongside him, David Croft is a passionate, experienced commentator and Anthony Davidson can bring great technical knowledge to live practice sessions.”

Sky also announced that Steve Rider, who fronted ITV’s Formula One coverage between 2006-2008, will be responsible for presenting a series of interviews and features with current and past drivers.

“Ted Kravitz has huge knowledge of the pitlane and paddock and he and Natalie Pinkham will get the information and access our viewers need,” added Turner.

“And guiding us through the coverage we have the experience of Simon Lazenby and Georgie Thompson. Each has hosted major sports events, from the British Lions to the Ryder Cup – they have trust and respect.”

This line-up seems like a dream and I am keenly excited to see how the new team and the new dedicated channel will offer to Formula One fans next season.

As for the BBC, Jake Humphrey will continue to be the main presenter alongside David Coulthard and Lee McKenzie. No news were available on who will be the main commentators for both the television and radio side.

It will be fascinating how Sky will improve the coverage of the sport as the past three years on the BBC have been excellent, thanks to the Red Button. With the news on this dream team, the challenge is set to become the main point of interest for motor racing fanatics in 2012.

7 thoughts to “Sky Sports’ new Formula One dream team”

  1. Martin Brundle says Sky’s reputation, and the fact it will still be going head-to-head with the BBC for ten grands prix next season, puts pressure on the broadcaster to perform from the very outset of its Formula 1 coverage in 2012.

    Brundle, who was official announced as part of Sky’s new coverage team, admitted it had been a big decision to leave the BBC but said the promise of commentating live for every race had proved too hard to resist.

    “We’re going to be head to head with BBC F1, which I know from personal experience is a fantastic group of people making a great show,” Brundle told AUTOSPORT in an exclusive interview. “We’re going to have to come up with the very best stuff to compete, and these guys know it.

    “We’re not taking over a sport and moving it on, we’re still head to head with the BBC on 10 occasions and that was important to me as well – they have to get it right and I have to get it right for them. I’m confident Sky will throw everything at it to make sure the fan experience is good.

    “The key driver for me though was that I wanted to commentate live on all the races. For me, nothing compares to live television and I’ve always said it gives me a good percentage of the buzz I used to get when I was racing.

    “That adrenalin fix, that absolute excitement – when the words leave your mouth they’re gone for ever and you have to get it right, and its so exciting to do that. I wanted to commentate live and that was the key driver.”

    Having signed for Sky a few weeks prior to his official unveiling, Brundle also spoke of his excitement at the team which had been put together, and of his excitements at the increased scope for technical features and analysis offered by Sky’s creation of a bespoke F1 channel.

    “There’s so much scope, so much air time, to do the technical features and other things which I really enjoy but haven’t had the chance to do,” he explained.

    “Normally you make nice pieces and it all has to be cut down; now I can make some really nice pieces that tell the story of a complex and fast-moving sport. What I find when I make those features is that I always learn something – quite a lot actually – and if I’m learning stuff after 29 years doing this then hopefully the fans are too.

    “Lets be very clear: BBC F1 was awesome, I loved being a part of it and it was a great privilege. We had a good audience and great people, and I don’t think any of us were looking for anything to change so obviously the news we got at the Hungarian Grand Prix was a bombshell.

    “Sky spoke to me and when I understood the resource and energy it was putting into this it really appealed to me. Now I am really happy with the team they have assembled. Every day I’ve been involved I’ve become more and more confident I’ve made the right decision.”


  2. The BBC may look to Jonathan Legard or James Allen to fill the void left by Sky Sports’ on-screen talent raid, as it seeks to rebuild its Formula One team virtually from scratch.

    BBC Sport has been left with the task of finding a new on-air team across both TV and radio after Sky Sports hired nearly all of its presenting talent, including Martin Brundle and David Croft.

    Legard, who was the BBC’s main F1 television commentator until he was replaced by Brundle at the beginning of this year, and former ITV F1 commentator Allen are the early frontrunners to fill the void.

    Other names being linked with a switch to the BBC include motor racing commentator Toby Moody, who is a familiar voice on Eurosport, and Ben Edwards, who commentates on the British Touring Car Championship on ITV4.

    The BBC’s Formula One gig is not as prestigious as it once was after it signed a joint rights deal with Sky that will see the BBC’s live coverage of the sport on TV cut in half from 2012.

    BBC Sport will cover 10 live races next year, alongside highlights of the other 10 – with all 20 races broadcast live on Sky’s soon–to-launch dedicated Formula One channel.

    The BBC got into bed with Sky in July as part of moves to cut costs by £700m a year. Corporation chiefs have said it will have to be “ruthless” in deciding which sports rights it hangs on to in future.

    The departure of so many star names – TV commentator Brundle was out of contract at the end of the last F1 season – is likely to have the unintended consequence of saving the corporation even more money (although small beans compared with the cost of the rights).

    Industry sources estimated Brundle would have earned about £300,000 at the BBC. His salary is likely to be considerably higher at Sky, possibly as much as £450,000.

    Jake Humphrey, the BBC sports presenter who is also the main presenter of its Formula One TV coverage, is staying with the corporation, but there is a vacancy for the “voice of F1” on Radio 5 Live previously occupied by “Crofty”.

    Names in the frame include John Inverdale, Mark Pougatch and Colin Murray.

    Pougatch may have too many other responsibilities at Radio 5 Live, while Murray presents Match of the Day 2 on Sunday nights on BBC2, which would presumably preclude him travelling the world for the best part of 10 months a year.

    Perhaps the BBC will look outside of broadcasting to Fleet Street, to someone such as former Observer motor racing correspondent Maurice Hamilton, who also worked as a Formula One summariser on 5 Live.

    F1 veteran Murray Walker is not about to make a full-time commentating comeback, however. Is it made for Jeremy Clarkson? Probably not.

    Source: The Guardian

  3. The BBC considered a radical overhaul of its Formula One coverage that would have seen the same commentary used across TV and radio in a bid to save money.

    The plan, which would have been hugely controversial and unprecedented in the corporation’s long history of live sports coverage, is understood to have been put forward by the BBC in-house sport department.

    Management rejected the idea and the contract to produce F1 coverage for BBC Radio 5 Live was re-awarded to independent production company USP, which first produced it in 2006.

    But it is a sign of the pressures that BBC Sport is under to save money that the plan was considered at all.

    The corporation is having to save £700m as a result of last year’s flat licence fee deal with the government.

    Sport is one of the departments that has taken a big hit to its budget, which resulted in the BBC sharing live F1 coverage with Sky.

    The BBC’s chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, said the joint deal had saved the corporation as much money as if it had closed BBC4, and said it had to be “ruthless” in the way it chooses sports rights in the future.

    Now the BBC must reinvent the way it covers F1 after the defection of five of its on-air team to Sky, including Martin Brundle and 5 Live commentator David Croft.

    The BBC pointed out that three of the mainstays of its TV presenting team were remaining with the corporation.

    A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are really pleased to have kept our existing, award-winning presenting team of Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard. We will be making further announcements on our talent in due course.”

    But new commentary teams will be required across TV and radio, as well as a new presenter lineup for Radio 5 Live.

    Their task will be made more difficult by the sheer scale of Sky Sports’ coverage. The broadcaster is launching a dedicated Formula One channel broadcasting around the clock for the duration of the 10-month season.

    Sky Sports F1 HD will be available free to all Sky Sports subscribers, as well as customers who do not pay for any of its sports packages but do subscribe to its high definition services.

    “The BBC expected some of their talent to go to Sky, but I think they have been surprised to see so many of them go,” said one industry source.

    “They are going to have to raise their game because of the scale of what Sky is doing and the amount of airtime they are dedicating to the sport.

    “The danger is that, with just a few hours of TV coverage over a weekend compared to an entire channel, the BBC ends up looking substandard.”

    The BBC has one big advantage over its satellite rival – viewers do not have to pay to watch it (beyond the annual TV licence fee) – so when the two broadcasters go head to head the corporation’s ratings are likely to be substantially more.

    But as Sky showed with its big-money signings announced on Wednesday, it will be doing everything it can – and splashing the cash – to close that gap.

    Radio 5 Live will begin to change the way it covers live football from next season, axing the historic second commentator’s role from some matches, a process that will be complete by 2014.

    Source: The Guardian

  4. All I can say is good luck BBC since I don’t like any of the names mentioned and I think anyone who will have Sky will stick to Sky on all the races. Depending on how many ad breaks before and after of course.

    Of the remaining people Jake and DC are the only ones to watch/hear. Eddie is a dick, but I do like how he can grab anyone and make them talk. Only an ex team owner with real roots in the sport can get away with what he says or does.

    Oh and if Legard is to be heard in any way on the BBC I’m certainly not going want to hear him. Quite how this guy had such a fan base from the 5Live commentary I don’t know. I just cannot stand him or any of his stupid words that come out his stupid mouth. If it’s back to the 5Live stuff then fine, I never listend to it anyways. I know Croft and Anthony were great, but the whole thing sounded like they were talking in a garden shed ergo, shit.

    On that note, the only bad choice regarding Sky’s line-up is that I would much prefer Ant on the race days than Crofty. I really like Martin B so all’s good for me, though I had to laugh at his comments about the BBC. He’s not even done one show, and thinks Sky will trounce them. Remember your routes mate, remember where you came from.

    Huh actually make that two bad choices. Steve Rider. He can sod off. Can’t stand him either.

    I can’t say I’ve seen anything of Steve Lazenby, but Georgie certainly knows footy and think she can apply herself well to the world of F1.

    But overall I think Sky are going to make a good show out of it. They have to or else they’ll just be laughed off the face of the planet and no-one will end up watching. I’d like to see what Bernie would think of the move then.

    One things for sure, you can bet Sky will show more of the girls then the Beeb did.

  5. It will be fascinating to see the television ratings between the two broadcasters when both the BBC and Sky are covering the same Grand Prix weekend. That will be April’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. The time difference means the live coverage will be quite early on Sunday!

    The dedicated HD channel from Sky is great but from what I read, it will be only be active from Friday (showing all the practice sessions plus technical features) until Sunday (obviously the race). What about the other days of the week? It’s best to fill in the television schedule with other Formula One related content. Perhaps classic races (similar to the Red Button or ESPN Classic)? Or maybe documentaries and interviews with past champions/drivers.

    It’s amusing to read the various comments on blogs and comments from diehard Formula One fans that will not even consider upgrading to Sky despite this dream line-up. Why? “I don’t want to give my money to Murdoch!” Oh please(!) I cannot stand this one-side view and I am already predicting if Sky Sports do deliver a really good show for Sky viewers, then those people who are not going for the Sky route will do so. Pure hypocrites!

    As for the BBC, it’s a real shame that the excellent coverage has been reduced to ten ‘live’ races. The line-up of Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie will still make the show entertaining. But questions remain on who will provide the race commentary. Will we see James Allen, Ben Edwards or even Jonathan Legard? Plus, who will present the Radio 5 Live coverage now that Crofty and Little Ant has joined Sky? I await with keen interest from the BBC.

  6. Definitely has been nice to have BBC cover F1, I like what sky is doing but I don’t think I will be shelling out any extra money to sky for the privilege.

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