The on screen team has been announced which will lead Sky’s F1 coverage when it kicks off a new six year contract next season.
It features five presenters who have been employed on F1 by the BBC this season, as the Pay TV broadcaster flexes its muscles and raids the Corporation’s staff roster.
Radio 5 Live’s David Croft will be lead commentator, with Martin Brundle moving into a role like the one Andy Gray used to have in football for Sky; live colour commentator, chief pundit and lynchpin of the operation. His hiring is the main coup for Sky and the coverage will be built around him.
The exclusivity of the 10 live races which the BBC does not have will drive subscriptions for Sky, but they hope that by hiring Brundle, fans with a choice will stay loyal to them on days when the two networks go head to head.
5 Live’s Anthony Davidson will have a role as part time practice commentator and post-race analyst at the Grands Prix which do not clash with his Peugeot sportcar racing commitments while BBC TV pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz and 5 Live’s Natalie Pinkham will do the traditional reporter roles in the pits.
Two Sky faces will transfer to the F1 operation; Rugby presenter Simon Lazenby takes the lead presenter role, he’s an experienced Sky anchorman and Georgie Thompson will work on the magazine show.
Host broadcaster FOM’s staff has also seen some defections to Sky, which is promising to provide in depth coverage of the sport on a level not seen before. They have launched a dedicated F1 HD channel which will not only cover the practice sessions, qualifying and race, but will also host magazine programmes.
It’s going to make significant demands on the time of the key figures in the sport, time which currently the major free to air stations like BBC and RTL (Germany) enjoy. Nico Rosberg, for example, already gives over half an hour every race weekend of his time to RTL alone.
For British drivers like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton the demands on their time due to this TV competition are set to rise and it will be very interesting to see whether the two competing broadcasters get equal time with them.
Sky is promoting F1 heavily now in the UK. Moving banners were in evidence pitch side at Premier League football matches this weekend and subscribers have all been emailed with details of the new channel.
The calendar of races Sky will cover in its first season was announced today by the FIA.
Scheduled to run 20 races from March to November, the only question marks were Bahrain and Austin, but both are on the calendar.
Sky will have the first two races in Australia and Malaysia exclusively live.
Let us know what you think of Sky’s new team.