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Five BBC presenters move to Sky F1 team
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Dec 2011   |  12:15 pm GMT  |  396 comments

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.

Behind the scenes offers have been made to producers and cameramen, some of whom are going, but many of whom are staying with the BBC, which will show half the races live and half as highlights only.

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.

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Great news Ben Edwards, the most underrated commentator in motorsport is now part of the BBC lineup in 2012


Gutted. Sky is a rip-off, F1 is going to become like football is now, where following it even on TV is an expensive business. I’ll be finding “alternative” ways online to watch it next year.

Hope that the take-up of Sky subscriptions is poor, if they don’t get the return on their investment maybe it’ll go to Channel 4 in a couple of years’ time.


I for one will not be paying sky for anything as they are a rip off,already have virgin hd which is fine and does not break up when weather gets bad..I and a lot of other people will not be watching purley because its on sky, F1 will become a dead sport from the moment you and your bad commentators get hold of it.


I’ve watched every race this year in hd, bbc coverage, without paying a penny, and will be doing he same next year with Sky coverage (track action only – not interested in a tabloid level show for the dumb with garish graphic and a ton of adverts for other Sky products). Now, regardless of whether this is right or wrong it’s worth realizing that it’s 2011 and you have the technology in your house to do this (its called the internet) and if everyone took this initiative instead of just moaning and handing money to people like Sky then the way sports coverage is stolen from us by these people and then sold back to us would have to change. 


Murray where are you? – looks like there is a vacancy at the BBC!


Peolpe always complain about change. I’ll reserve my comments as to which is better when the 2012 season is done and I can actually compare coverage between the two corporations. As far as ethics and politics, anyone that thinks the BBC is run by saints is delusional. Both corporations are on the market to make money and one of them takes your money wether you watch them or not. I am not a sky lover, though I have a sky subscription and I’m also not a BBC lover. All I want is to be able to watch good coverage of F1 with a good team of presenters. If it is on the BBC or Sky, I really don’t care too much, like I said I have no love for either corporation. Shame that Sky couldn’t/wouldn’t poach DC too as I will be watching F1 on Sky and I will miss his comments and banter with MB. JA, it would be nice to see on the comment box again.


Sky and BEEB can stick F1 where the sun fails to shine. Have got satellite and online (non-Murdoch) coverage from RTL.de Not keen on the jingoistic and VERY nationalistic reporting team but at least you get all the qually and race live. Who knows, it may even improve my German!


There is always 5 Live


By the way, for me, the new! improved! overtaking rule is more likely to turn me off F1 than a move to another channel…


The BBC has been named the best broadcaster of the year by Formula 1’s governing body the FIA.


Martin, I’m so disappointed! How can you go to work for Murdoch?! Let’s hope the Beeb will retain DC.


Seems a lot of folks are still hung up about the change, rather than give an opinion on the Sky team. I understand the reasons for this, but on the other hand, the BBC coverage really needed shaking up.

For me, Brundle, Kravitz and Croft were the best of the BBC team by a long way, so no surprise they have been poached.

I can’t imagine how bad the BBC coverage will be now.

The writing must be on the wall – surely, it will all go to Sky after a season or two. So, in that respect I am glad to see the best of the BBC team will be retained.


Looks like I’ll be streaming for next year (thank god for free HD Streams). as a student I do not have the money to pay sky for F1 coverage, it’s just not feasible, plus I don’t want my money going into Murdoch’s pocket. Shame Sky have managed to poach the majority of the Beeb’s f1 team, but hey, the show must go on, the Beeb need to put in maximum effort to trounce Sky’s coverage. James It would be great to hear you on the TV again, but I respect your decision, keep up the good work.


It’s a tough one. Let’s be objective about the BBC coverage, though: while they had a great team, were they really utilised well? The pre-race show and forum were increasingly focussed on superficiality like “how did that feel?”, “what are your emotions?”, and the ridiculously protracted amateur psychological analysis of Lewis Hamilton and his “problems”, with far fewer technical and insight features. Not to mention Eddie’s shirts (yawn) and the general smug tomfoolery of it all. Martin Brundle said as much when he said that there would be more time on Sky to do those technical features which he clearly enjoys doing.

The only negative is David Coulthard remaining on the BBC, becuase I think he has flourished in the commentary role, and will suffer form having inferior talent around him.


I could live with the BBC/SKY deal were it not for the amount of time between the live SKY race and the BBC show. How many times over the next few years are we going to learn a race result before watching it, making the re-run partially redundant?

I have no faith in the BBC not including race results in their news bulletins, it simply would not occur to them to keep that back.

Despite some of the tweets from the likes of Brundle I believe F1s appeal in the UK will be diminished through this, advertising will be less effective as people watch through disappointed eyes.



Every other weekend you get to walk out, bit of fresh air and exercise, go to a club race or just watch the gp with a ton of other fans down the pub.

Sounds good to me, and on principle no way would I pay extra just to watch a race.

The weekends just opened up a bit.


I have to say, this team could well save/stop Sky from drastically dumbing down F1 for commercial motives.

While I agree with most people’s sentiments here, not switching over to Sky is very much a futile move. The exposure they’ll gain from covering F1 is enough to justify their move.

I just hoping their ratings plummet on the races when BBC get to host a race, just to piss Murdoch off.


Lead commentator job at the beeb up for grabs…Intrested James?


No, I’ve said before that I’ve not put myself forward for a full time TV role.


James, please reconsider, the BBC and your country need you.


I agree, it would be great to have James back on the big stage where he belongs!


sorry, just another in the long list. A devoted F1 fan for many many years, but i cant justify to my family paying £35 plus a month just to watch F1, and then for 10 races exclusively, its too much. The BBC coverage looks like it been raped, so not really sure what crumbs will be left for the highlights. I really fear that there will be a lot left who just end up being disinterested after this, and a few years down the line, it will be like football went, from being very interested, to now, where i cant be bothered, such a shame.


Apart from Brundle – the rest of the sky team are nothing special. Ted Kravitz took over from James Allen in the pitlane when James started commentary & was nowhere near as good as James.

If BBC can get a good commentator to sit alongside DC these sky people are going to become unknowns. Martin who????


i am an avid F1 fan who lives in mexico. my coverage is sketchy consisting of some speed tv (at 6:00 in the morning) and an occasional download of the BBC broadcasts which are great. so if sky is going to stream the program over the internet and if i can receive it in mexico, i am happy to pay something and see my situation improve. will the channel be available to me in mexico over the internet?


No, not unless you get a UK account and a Slingbox !

resigned to fate

Well it could be worse. At least the BBC have 10 of the races, I would rather that than they have none of the races and just highlights.

Highlights for 10 races is not ideal but is better than nothing: an hour and half race trimmed down to 1 hour or thereabouts – still an improvement over ITV as at least the BBC can trim at choice knowing what they are trimming out.


I’ve probably not missed more than one or two live races in about 5yrs – but I will NOT be paying to watch F1 on Sky.


I don’t know what is the possibility in the UK of picking up live TV feeds from other broadcasters in Europe, but maybe one could view the races with commentary in another language(seemingly its been done by some pubs for Premiership football for a while) and then use the F1.com site for a rolling written feed on what’s occuring on and off-screen. Not the best way to enjoy the race I must admit, but one that I’ve occasionally used when travelling and having to endure non-English F1 commentary whilst sat in a hotel room in some far flung place.


what now happens to the red button.


It continues, on races where BBC is live, I believe.


Presumably with extra screen-time for Eddie Jordan now that Brundle’s gone 🙂


Out of interest. Those claiming ethical reasons for not watching the Sky coverage, Which races are you going to watch next year on that basis?

I have just consulted the Amnesty International Report for 2011 and it’s grim reading for those with high morale ethics as far as the F1 calendar for 2012 is concerned.

I suggest you start watching another sport if it is ethics you are concerned about.


James, Sky missed a trick not hiring you; I still miss your commentary. Or did they approach and you said “Nah, too busy with my blog!”


As I posted yesterday, I’m not looking for a return to full time TV commentary. I enjoy the level of appearances I make on TV and radio around the world, alongside the online work which I really enjoy and for which I see huge opportunity.


Its a great line up and yes I have been watching F1 since the murray walker days and it is the only sport that i will stake time for and sit and watch live. We live in a world of certain demands and commercialism and the realities of business. The doom mongerors have been saying that it will be expensive to watch now we know its not true it will cost less than a sports package, but then if you are an affeciando then you pay there is nothing in life as a free lunch, The BBC coverage took the veiwing of F1 to another level thats a fact and they should have the plaudits for that. However they want out which is fine i didnt like it when it was announced but hey thats life and I for one will watch the F1 coverage of sky with some great presenters already signed up and a dedicated channel with the potential of seeing another step forward in content and technology, The signs are Sky is wanting to do a great job and after all isnt life about giving something a chance ?? you never know you may be surprised ; )


Won’t be watching or paying for Sky. No way.

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