Tonight at 19:30 on Sky Sports F1, a new series profiling six young and rising stars begins. The series, aptly named “Britain’s Next F1 Star”, will follow the lives and stories of these future stars as they climb the racing ladder, and attempt to break the barrier into Formula 1. The series has been produced by USP Content, with Henry Hope-Frost narrating, and will air on Thursday evenings before a race weekend, with the final edition airing in the run-up to Brazilian Grand Prix. Scalextric will sponsor the series.
This blog will contain a brief synopsis of the six episodes, as well as a few quotes from each of the drivers.
The first episode, to air tonight at 19:30, will profile Seb Morris. Morris, the youngest ever winner of the Junior Ginetta G40 Series hopes to become the first ever Welsh Formula 1 champion. So far, Morris has had the help of his Dad, who is a property developer, and his Mum. Although both of them, along with the rest of “Team Seb” have helped Morris get as far as he has got, there is one person that he looks up to.
“The first F1 race I ever watched was Michael Schumacher winning the Monaco Grand Prix in the early 2000’s. The urge to become a Formula 1 Driver was not simply inspired by watching others, but my own ambition. “ said Morris. Could we see, one day, Seb Morris as a Formula 1 driver, with a 50 year old Schumacher as team boss? Never say never. In five years time, however, Morris expects to be knocking on the door of GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5.
This year on the broadcasting side of things, Morris says that he “watch[es] the Sky Sports F1 coverage with extreme regularity, and I enjoy it immensely. It not only explains things for the newcomer to F1, but also goes into a great deal of analysis, so even a racing driver like me is mentally stretched watching the coverage!”
The episode leading into the Korean Grand Prix weekend focusses on Jordan King. King’s life did not start off well and at a young age he suffered cancer. Despite this, he overcame the hurdles placed in front of him to become the youngest ever Formula 2 racer in the modern era. King was also inspired to start off charity fund-raising events, with former cricketer Ian Botham joining him on walks to help raise money.
Whilst King does not remember the first Formula 1 race that he watched, he notes that the first Grand Prix he went to was the Italian Grand Prix, where he sat in the Jordan Formula 1 car! In five years time, King hopes that he will be entering the final phases of his first Formula 1 season.
Episode 3 during the Indian Grand Prix race weekend looks as Josh Hill, the son of Damon Hill and the grandson of Graham Hill. The episode looks back at the Hill family legacy and looks forward into the future at how Josh is the third generation of Hill’s to come through the racing system. Joshua did not get into watching motor racing at an early age, however, and the first Grand Prix he watched was well known for what happened off the track, rather than the (lack of!) action on the track.
“The first race I can remember watching on TV was the 2005 US GP, mainly because my Dad was getting very excited by the situation the race was held in, but it didn’t really enthuse me about doing motor racing. When I first got interested in doing motor racing it was when my Dad drove me around Silverstone in a 2-seater GP Masters car.” says Josh, I would be lying if I was particularly surprised there! I don’t think many people would openly admit to watching that race. One race he can admit to watching is the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, which Josh says was the greatest race that he has seen.
Commenting on the broadcasting this season, Josh says that when “F1 [is] on TV it’s always been on Sky, and it’s been very good overall. But then again I’m slightly biased!”
The programme to première on the Thursday before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend will feature Alice Powell, who hopes to be racing in Formula 1 in a few years time, and hopes to become the first Formula 1 female Drivers’ Champion. Some people claim it cannot happen, however, she was the first female to win a Formula Renault BARC race, and she has been put in consistent performances this season in the GP3 Series. Tiff Chittenden also looks at her own Formula 1 journey in this programme and explains why there is definitely a career for females in motor sport.
Powell, like Morris in episode 1, is a big fan of Michael Schumacher and notes how she “proudly wore my red Ferrari hat and I was wrapped in my big Ferrari flag. I still have both of these items in my cupboard! It was just the excitement of the racing and the sounds and speed of the cars that made me want to become a Formula One driver, instantly”, comments Powell. Although I say a lot about the Formula 1 coverage in the UK in this blog, Powell for me makes the one overriding point that is extremely difficult to disagree with. Long may that continue, and who knows, maybe we will see Powell winning a race on BBC and Sky one day.
Talking about the BBC and Sky coverage this season, Powell does not pick a favourite, instead saying “I think that the coverage from both channels is fantastic, and we are so lucky, as a nation, to have brilliant TV coverages of the events! I am pretty sure that no other country has a great F1 coverage as us!”
Smith, at 24, is one of the older drivers’ profiled in this series, his episode airing around the United States Grand Prix weekend. Being one of the older drivers is not an advantage though for Smith, as it means that the time left to pursue a Formula 1 seat is decreasing. Unlike other drivers in the world, Smith does not have the luxury of big sponsors. Essentially, this means that it is irrelevant how good he may be, but if the money is not there then the door into Formula 1 may not open, hence why he was dropped by Addax before the last round of the 2011 GP3 Series season.
The programme also follows Smith’s family, as a new bride and baby is on its way.
The final programme of the series, in the build-up to the Brazilian Grand Prix, looks at Alex Brundle, who is the son of Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin. Already in his young career, Brundle has done a lot in motor sport, including the GP3 Series and participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a resume that not many other drivers have. However, Brundle says that “the Isle of Mann TT is still the greatest race on the planet”, so no doubt he may consider a switch to two wheels if the four wheels motor sport does not go to plan. Brundle is tipped for big things in Formula 1, not only from his Dad, but also from Martin Whitmarsh. Will Brundle follow in the footsteps of his father, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button and race for McLaren one day? Time, shall tell.
Brundle notes that Formula 1 is not the barometer for success, and says that he would consider his career a success in five years, irrespective of what racing car he is driving. Commenting on his first Formula 1 memory, Brundle said that “The first experience I remember was watching my Dad break down in the final turns of the 1994 Hungarian GP and being absolutely gutted because I used to love it when he brought home a trophy!”
Below is a full list of times for the première editions of “Britain’s Next F1 Star”:
– Episode 1: Thursday 4th October, 19:30 – Seb Morris
– Episode 2: Thursday 11th October, 19:30 – Jordan King
– Episode 3: Thursday 25th October, 19:30 – Joshua Hill
– Episode 4: Thursday 1st November, 19:30 – Alice Powell
– Episode 5: Thursday 15th November, 19:30 – Dean Smith
– Episode 6: Thursday 22nd November, 19:30 – Alex Brundle
But will any of the six be “Britain’s Next F1 Star”? It is nearly time to find out…