Steve Jones will be presenting Channel 4’s coverage of Formula 1, it has been confirmed today. Jones succeeds Suzi Perry as lead presenter of Formula 1 on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom, Perry having presented BBC’s coverage from 2013 to 2015.
The appointment of Jones will come as a surprise to many Formula 1 fans given his lack of experience in presenting sporting events. As revealed though on the site, Jones has been widely expected to become lead presenter since late January. Channel 4 are going down the same route as they took with their American Football highlights coverage in 2013. In that instance, the corporation hired Vernon Kay as lead presenter.
Jones has had a long relationship with Channel 4, dating back to the early 2000s when he presenting their children strand T4 from 2003 to 2010. Since then, Jones has had stints with other broadcasters, such as presenting Let’s Dance for Comic Relief on BBC One and The X Factor USA on Fox. In recent years, Jones has returned to Channel 4, presenting Young, Free & Single: Live and My Kitchen Rules: UK.
Inevitably, there will be people who see the appointment of Jones and instantly write off Channel 4’s coverage of Formula 1. It may remind readers of Melanie Sykes’s failed stint of presenting BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, in that both did not present sport before their respective motor sport stints. What Jones will have on his side is that the Australian Grand Prix is a highlights weekend for Channel 4. As I discussed last month, Australia will be a dry-run for the whole team, it will be an opportunity for Jones to get used to presenting Formula 1 without the pressure of live television.
I think, in the very least, Jones should be given a chance. Just because Sykes did not work out in MotoGP, it does not mean Jones should be dismissed as Channel 4’s Formula 1 presenter. I’m optimistic that it will be successful. As always, time will tell but Jones has an experienced team of Formula 1 experts around him, including David Coulthard to help guide and steer the ship.