Whilst the 2017 Formula One season was not as nail biting as the 2016 season finale, the championship has seen a lot of good wheel-to-wheel racing. A competitive Ferrari meant that Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton kept squabbling through the first half of the season, until the start-line collision in Singapore turned the championship on its head.
On the broadcasting side, 2017 marked Channel 4’s second season covering Formula 1. Has Channel 4’s coverage in year two been as good as their first year analysing the sport? Over on Sky Sports, has their coverage upped the ante this season, or do you feel that their programming still has inherent, fundamental problems?
It has been a big year elsewhere. Over in America, NBC bowed out of Formula 1, Abu Dhabi marking their final race before the contract is handed over to ESPN. If you are in America and reading this site, will you miss NBC’s output? And lastly, have you enjoyed following Formula 1 in the first year under Liberty Media’s ownership?
The best thoughts and opinion will form a new article on this site in a few weeks’ time.
24 thoughts on “Channel 4 F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your 2017 Verdict”
Where possible I’ve always paid for a day of NowTV Sports instead of watching the race on Channel 4. I think Ben Edwards is the best English language commentator out there, and Coulthard has come on leaps and bounds. But I find Eddie Jordan cringe-worthy at every stage.
His incorrect prediction about Petronas dropping out of F1 was just horrendous, and his “interview” with Toto Wolff after the Abu Dhabi race was one of many low-points. He may have had the best contacts in the biz a few years ago, but he’s looking increasingly uncomfortable, as are his colleagues whenever he talks. He’s doing damage to C4’s reputation.
I find Sky F1 is more than worth it, especially if I have time to watch the whole race built-up and post-race analysis. I’m not a huge fan of David Croft, but he doesn’t make many mistakes and generally ups the excitement.
But, of course, the best reason to watch Sky is for Brundle. He’s completely in-tune with what’s going on in F1 and never seems out of touch. He’s aware of his own detachment from modern F1 given his last race was over 21 years ago, but he nevertheless remains insightful and I more often than not agree with his opinions. If Brundle were to leave Sky, I’d be less likely to cough up my £7 for a day of NowTV Sport.
Oh and Ted! A billion times Ted!
If what I read about the F1/ESPN deal is true. I think it will be a big mistake for F1. As the current American fans will most likely continue to watch it on ESPN. I believe it will do nothing to grow the F1 fan base in the US.
The extra content that Speed and NBCSN brought to The F1 broadcast in the US is part of the reason I am an F1 fan now.
Sky for me, two big reasons. 1: Brundle, knows what’s happening and has the right broadcasting demeanour for every occasion. The grid walks are getting more tricky but that’s probably more to do with FOM directives on drivers than anything else. And 2: Ted Kravitz. How anyone can spend 30 minutes walking through a busy paddock looking at a notebook, being distracted and making an entertaining piece of tv everytime always leaves me in awe.
Croft’s bad puns and links are such a turn off. Brundle is great but can turn into a bit of a bore sometimes. Lazenby is crap and Herbert is inane. Hill is considered and thoughtful. Kravitz seems to have lost the plot sometimes.
Comparatively C4 is great, Edwards and Coulthard do a fine job, and Webber and Karun are excellent pundits. Jones is a great presenter. Jordan is … special, but harmless. C4’s coverage has been excellent.
I’ve watched some Sky but mostly Channel 4. If I’ve been off work and it’s been a sky week rather than c4 I’ve watched their practice sessions and watched today’s race on Sky.
Personally for me it’s apples and oranges and I don’t like oranges.
I like Edwards and Coulthard as a team so much that I feel I wouldn’t want Brundle back.
Brundle’s connections aren’t as important now as any combination of DC/Webber/Lee going up and down having a better connection with the current drivers.
Steve is not as good as Suzi but better than Jake.
EJ is right more times than he’s wrong. Yes he’s annoying but he’s also tenacious and gets answers others might not.
Susie is a good foil for DC and Mark and is also good for diversity (which is important).
Karun while derided when he was first chosen has grown into his role and shows that the drivers do have to have the smarts.
I much prefer Paul Di Resta driving than analysing I’ll just say. Damon is boring as well.
This has been the most impressive thing for me, Channel 4 have stamped their own identity on the graphics and it’s very clear. The picture in picture works well with the hexagonals.
Next year will be my last year as an active f1 viewer. When the sport disappears away from free TV so I do as a viewer. I hoped so much that Liberty would renege on Bernie’s suicide pact as they seem to be trying with the sport and lessening the evil empire’s stranglehold.
After 18 years as a subscriber I left Sky in September mainly because of the changes to their sports channel package and their VIP scheme.
Since then, when a race as has been live on C4 I’ve watched their coverage. For the Sky exclusives I relied on the F1 App with the 5 Live commentary.
The big problem with reviewing coverage from different broadcasters is that a lot of it comes down to your own personal preference of what you like.
Alex Jacques on 5 Live makes too many howling mistakes from my experience, such as telling me that Hamilton was 10 seconds behind Vettel when he was in fact 30. The media have better timing information than is available on the F1 App so there’s no excuse. Alan McNish is good, but that’s the only good thing from the Beeb’s coverage.
I cannot stand Steve Jones, today’s performance just confirmed that with his LH ‘walk to the car’. I also thought todays grid walk with DC and MB was embarrassing, it had no structure and at times both were lost for words. C4’s coverage comes across as poor in my opinion. I love to watch Guy Martin and last weekends programme on the Tank was excellent, unlike the Bike v F1 and the Wall Of Death that seemed to have the influence of Whisper Films, or C4 applying influence with respect to Whisper.
I’m not a fan of EJ and I don’t think Susie Woolf adds anything at all.
I like Lazenby as an anchorman, his first year left a bit to be desired but after that he’s been good. Crofty has become the weak link for me, particularly with his #AskCrofty section where he failed to ignore the idiot questions. Maybe it’s judged on the number of people asking the same question, but that would just be a sign of where we are as a society, it doesn’t mean that Crofty or the Producers need to drop to that level.
The F1 Show has become a farce for the last 3 years and I would fast forward through most of it, the Midweek Report is okay if it isn’t presented by Natalie Pinkham.
Brundle, Kravitze and Davidson are the best in the business, Hill has come on well.
I miss Sky’s coverage, C4 doesn’t even come near in my opinion – today they missed the cars leaving the grid for the warm up lap. I have to say that I watch a lot of C4 programming, I think they are very good on some programming, but F1 isn’t one of them.
Alex Jacques on 5Live? It’s Jack Nicholls who does it.
That’s it, I didn’t think it was quite right when I was typing it but I didn’t bother to check. Thanks for correcting me, may be my dislike of him has caused me to blank his name!
C4F1 has been a lot better than I hoped. Steve Jones is amiable enough, and fills the role of an anchor who the casual viewer can relate to. Lee McKenzie is very good, as is Karun Chandhok. Mark Webber is excellent, and Coulthard is occasionally first class too, but DC as a broadcaster reminds me of DC the driver; unwilling to take risks and hesitant when it comes to being critical. Susie Wolff is fine when she’s on too, but for me, the only member fo their crew who seems willing to be critical is Eddie Jordan. Yes, he can be annoying, and yes he makes grand claims which never come to fruition, but he’s very watchable, for me anyway.
It would be good to have someone with the heft of a James Hunt who was not only tremendously articulate but willing to ruffle feathers but Mansell lacks that grandiloquence and Damon Hill is just too nice a guy. Perhaps Jenson Button could fulfil that role, but in the past 20 years or so, anyone who’s been anything in elite sport has had any propensity for mild controversy media-trained out of them.
With regards to Sky, I’ve never been a subscriber, nor will I ever be. This isn’t a holier-than-thou proclamation, and I’m not criticising those who are, but on a personal level, I feel that Rupert Murdoch has been a cancerous force for harm to this and other countries, and I can’t reconcile that with giving any of his associated companies money if I can help it, despite what is no doubt excellent F1 coverage.
This season, being Liberty’s first and the first since a major regulation change, was a golden opportunity for broadcasters to refresh the way they showed of Formula 1. It was a chance to provide a fresh perspective. The premise of the season was to bring speed to Formula 1 — quite an easy one, therefore one the broadcasters should have siezed upon. Liberty pushed the ‘story’ concept as something to fall back on if the racing proved less memorable. They are good at telling it already, but it was another opportunity for the broadcasters to refresh, to narrate, to guide the viewer through the story via fresh eyes.
This is more a reference to Sky. After 5 years, they seemed stale and these two ideas should have been like gold dust to them. Whilst they certainly weren’t bad, they failed dissapointingly in bringing some more colour to their coverage. It’s correct to say they are solid in what they do, but with competition in the form of Channel 4 (or the BBC in the past), ‘solid’ is sometimes not good enough. ‘Solid’ becomes boring and the viewer looks elsewhere — and there is somewhere else for half of the season.
In Sky’s defence, I feel people who watch Formula 1 on their service aren’t experienced in how they cover other sports, probably because they subscribed with the ‘HD deal’, which was Sky F1 and nothing else. Particularly when times are tight for them, they start churning the product out — ‘doing the job’. Formula 1 viewers were always used to ‘something special’, whereas now placed in a pool of other sports, the special sheen has definitely worn off. And it’s clear to see.
I get the opposite impression with Channel 4. Sport to them is scarce, yet sacred. Of course they neglected it at times, like in Brazil, but when live, it’s clear to see the enthusiasm they have for Formula 1, because they’re new to it. Steve Jones fits perfectly into this model. We have become used to his style and it’s refreshing, in my opinion. Their rotation of pundits, along with their chemistry, is far superior to Sky, regardless of the prestige of Martin Brundle’s thoughts.
Channel 4’s weak link is Ben Edwards, purely because of the pedestal he has been placed upon. He is professional and solid, but the adjective that has given him his status — his energy — has sadly died away. That is not to say that Crofty is any better, who can be simply infuriating to listen to at an increasing amount of the time.
By far the best commentary pair has been Alex Jacques and Davide Valsecchi. Their energy and delirious excitement for Formula 2 is a perfect match for the racing. On his own though, Alex seems so desperate to be ‘slick’ he can be uncomfortable to listen to. Nevertheless, Liberty should absolutely push Formula 2 much more than Bernie ever did. Including it in some TV deals and raising awareness of it on YouTube etc. would be relatively simple and perhaps very beneficial. This goes for Sky as well.
Hopefully, Sky use the new logo as an incentive to refresh its own brand. Unfortunately, they are lazy, and would much rather continue with the status quo, diluting the passion and energy of Formula 1 yet further.
I’ve watched F1 this year in 5 different countries. Believe it or not James Allen on the world feed was my favourite !
Never thought I’d say THAT !
I’ve found the Channel 4 team to be a real delight. Steve Jones is a really affable and light hearted presence to a sport that can sometimes take itself too seriously. I really didn’t know what to think of Jones when he was announced as C4’s lead presenter two years ago but to me he’s been a real gift. Coulthard, Webber and Chandhok are quite simply superb – intelligent, informed, eloquent and all with a great charisma and humour to them. Susie Wolff talks sense all the time and acts as the perfect foil to Jordan’s somewhat interesting perspectives.
Lee McKenzie is the best, most professional pit lane interviewer in the business and Ben Edwards the most knowledgeable commentator in the sport – unsurprising given his superb reputation in broadcasting that stretches back to his Eurosport f1 days in the mid 90s.
Channel 4 have really perfected their coverage and their on screen chemisty seems natural with none of the forced banter that afflicts Sky’s coverage. They’ve been superb and deserving of far grearer recognition.
I resisted getting Sky for a long time and relied on Now TV to watch races when not live on Channel 4. I always enjoyed Sky’s coverage more but the inability to pause Now TV (on Apple TV) for my half way through toilet and brew up break + getting interrupted by whoever knocks at the door helped make my decision to subscribe to Sky Q. Yes its expensive (costs me £62 for Sky Sports F1 HD which included mandatory box sets bundle and the £6 HD charge) but worth every penny as I have seen more and enjoyed the commentary and presentation on Sky and the banter during practice sessions keeps me amused. Honestly on C4 Ben made a lot of commentary mistakes and I’m not a fan of Coulthard. Eddie Jordan just seemed to be stirring all the time and made a big blunder with the Petronas fake story.
Looking forward to seeing what Sky will do for testing as if I get this kind of coverage it will be even more worth it + I get Eurosport in HD now so I can watch all the Formula E races live as well.
F1 coverage on Sky vs C4 – basically, it’s all about the talent.
I usually watch on Sky because they have all sessions live. I have also seen a couple of races on C4 this year.
Overall, I prefer Lazenby’s gang to the Jones gang.
David Croft is an able commentator, and is well supported by Anthony Davidson and Paul Di Resta in the practice sessions. Ted Kravitz is unsurpassed in the pit lane and paddock, and his Notebook is one of the highlights of the weekend for me. For the race I usually switch on in time for Martin’s gridwalk, and he is still the best in the business when it comes to co-commentary.
I don’t mind Lazenby, he is much improved over the last 2 seasons, and he is a much better anchor than Jones, but where Sky loses out slightly is in the punditry area. For me, Herbert needs dropping from the line up as he is the weakest of the pundits, relying on stock phrases and obvious questions and answers. I would replace him with Mark Webber if I had the chance! Hill is quite good, but a bit wooden. I have enjoyed the addition of Pat Symonds to the Sky team this year, and he adds a huge amount of technical competence to the team.
Rachel Brookes is knowledgeable, and asks the right questions – her scoop this season was her interview with Seb after the Baku incident!
When I watched on C4, I thought DC was quite good, but was not as keen on Ben Edwards. I didn’t think he made the race seem exciting enough, as his commentary didn’t have the energy I expected.
Lee McKenzie was good and Mark Webber is excellent, but Eddie Jordan is a liability in my opinion, and he really puts me off the C4 coverage. Steve Jones doesn’t seem to take his role very seriously, but maybe that’s just the C4 angle. I didn’t think his style suited F1.
Overall out of 10 I would rate Sky’s coverage as an 8 – good, but could still do better with a few changes, with C4 on a 6 – improvement required, see me after class…
For another year I’ve had access to Sky at a friends place, meanwhile I watch the others on Channel 4.
When it comes to this stuff, I always think back to a quote from Murray Walker. He said that his as well as informing the viewer, “you’ve got to be able to entertain.”
I’m pleased to see people warming up to Steve Jones. In my view, he does everything that a good anchor should. His passion is infectious, and the chemistry he’s built with the rolling guests is becoming effortless. But the jewel in the crown for C4 is Mark Webber. He’s funny, and because of his tendency to say what’s on his mind – he’s consistently engaging and entertaining. They don’t have tonnes of technical coverage, but to be honest that’s not what the majority of fans care about. Karun gives them enough bite with his weekend updates to keep across the technical stuff. Rightly, Channel 4 put “the show” front and centre.
The same can’t be said for the Sky team sadly. I’m not sure if that’s their style personally, or whether it’s the Sky tendency to turn everything into a “saga.” I’m sorry to say I genuinely don’t think Simon Lazenby and Paul Di Resta entertain. I’m sure they’re decent guys trying to do a decent job, and their stuff is informative. But I just don’t think it quite works. And despite their considerable resources, it’s the Sky team that looks a bit threadbare compared to 2012. Ted as ever, is the exception to the rule and his Notebooks are a delight. Martin Brundle is still good too, but those two are dragged down by those around them.
Commentary wise, again there is no contest. DC and Ben are brilliant. Take for example the start in Mexico. Hamilton clearly had a puncture after Seb hit him. DC spotted it in seconds, while the Sky crew were bumbling around as Crofty shouted his head off. Only once Hamilton had come back into view did the Sky comms guys pick up the problem. If I had one criticism of the C4 pairing, I’d like to see DC take the jargon down a notch.
So back to the Murray test. The C4 coverage is friendly to newcomers to the sport and they genuinely make a fist of pleasing both the casual and the hardcore fan. But more importantly, they make the whole show entertaining, not just informative or too techy. If I were awarding the contract for 2019 purely on merit, they would be the only channel in the running.
i have found the Sky coverage improved this year – but still has the potential to be much better.
First the personnel.
Brundle was great as ever and showed with his piece about how to improve F1 last weekend that he is still in touch with what is going on and what will improve the racing.
Ted sometimes tips over from brilliant to embarrassing but overall is thoroughly entertaining. Croft makes a few errors and relies on some stock phrases and goes OTT on the stats on occasion but he works well with Brundle and has good knowledge and contacts.
Herbert has had a much reduced role this year and I wonder if that’s directly because of Pat Symonds’ involvement – Johnny wasn’t in any of the coverage that Pat was in. I preferred him in smaller doses.
Lazenby and Hill have improved over time and it was nice to see a bit more Craig Slater on the main coverage. PDR was ok but is no Anthony Davidson who was excellent as ever despite only being part of the team for a quarter of the races.
Criminally underused, though, is Marc Priestley. He’s always there but never seems to get much screen time. This seems like a mistake. It was good to see Nico Rosberg used in some of the coverage for sure.
There needs to be more rotation of pundits to get some fresh voices and opinions heard and less repetition between practise, F1 show and quali/race day coverage.
Show wise, I thought the attempts by Sky to unify their graphics a bit more was a plus, such as the stings for grid walk and note book. They still are guilty of putting whatever fonts and graphics they feel like on the day on many of the features. There should be a consistent approach.
Many of the features have been interesting, especially behind the scenes with the FIA or the role of the medical car. However some were too dull or too short. It annoys me when they take drivers to do something like beach football and then show about ten seconds of the football. Why bother?
There is also a tendency for all the programs to follow a set format. The best ones are where they break away from this to follow a developing story or accommodate a feature like when Martin was with the Williams team on the grid in the build up to the race.
I can only hope for 2018 they freshen things up again and make the shows a little less formulaic.
Overall I’d give 7/10 as there’s been some good coverage but definitely room to improve.
Love Sky – never watch C4 – but as a Scot I cringe at the grammar of the 2 Scottish ex drivers – could they not get some training or r Sky frightened to upset them? Plus the Scot Alan McNish’s grammar poor on R5. These r my only complaints. Going to the Brazilian race next year – hope the championship isn’t over by then. Gordon
I think c4 do a fantastic job, I will always watch their show and really think Jones has developed really well in his role, they have a great rotating pundit team. And with their extended show time (sometimes over 4.5 hours) it is clear they care about the sport. Their highlights are really good too, definitely extended highlights, yes you have to avoid the results and the build up isn’t so long etc but they show so much of the actual gp which is the whole point surely.
I like a few above will pay the now TV day pass – really handy thing, C4 qually highlights and Now TV race. I only feel the need to do this on the late night highlight shows that go on to nearly 1am.
Sky for me are no where near on par with C4, I find them quite boring across the board, with exception to Martin and Ted.
BBC – the only connection I have there is their website is great and keeps you up to date and I occasionally will listen to their preview/review shows.
Going to really miss C4 coverage in a couple of years, here’s hoping they can keep their extended highlights package and the British GP in some form of deal at the very least!
As someone who’s coming from the industry, I always enjoy this kind of comparison. I loved BBC’s F1 coverage before Sky/C4 era and been struggling to find my new home for F1 since.
Presenters / Style:
Never been a fan of Lazenby but this year he actually didn’t get much in a way, leaving experts to do their work, unlike in the past. Sky is trying to offer good insights and features, and this year it was well balanced. It reminds me of BBC. – 8
While Steve is doing a great job in learning, I just struggle with C4’s “funny” side of things. That’s not for me. And the last feature showing the garage in that weird “Hamilton’s perspective” was supposed to be funny? To me, it was a disaster which summed up C4’s 2017 for me. – 4
Pundits / Commentators / Reporters:
Here C4’s is a winner. Ben, DC, Mark and Lee have a great chemistry. Karun’s getting better at recognizing what fans want. Eddie has a direct approach that many can’t stand, but I like him. Rumours are just a HUGE part of F1, but only when it doesn’t turn into a disaster like the Petronas thing. Susie? She didn’t bring much to the table this year. – 8
Sky still keeps Herbert and Hill. I never hear anything from them that I wouldn’t already. Sky should think about getting DC or Mark for 2019 instead. Luckily there’s still Brundle, passionate Crofty, Ted, Ant, Natalie and Rachel who are brilliant. Oh, and Pat Symonds and Nico were great additions. Unfortunately, di Resta keeps proving that he’s simply not suited for TV. – 6
I think Sky did a rather good job showing some great stuff. They’re getting better. Apart from showing “Coming Up” sequence every 5 mins – wasted time! But in general, I was pleased. Unfortunately considering their investment into F1 I still find odd they’re not producing more new content apart from F1 weekends. Remember 2012? I guess it’s a budget problem because of Premier League rights. – 6
Unfortunately, C4’s features are lacking. Once again I miss BBC’s professionalism and passion. The fun side is again too annoying for me. Luckily, Guy Martin’s special at Williams was a different story. That is what you would expect from Sky! – 5
One more thing – yes, British TV can focus on British drivers but this isn’t Olympics. In my opinion, C4 is the better one at not being biased. And while Sky is giving space to others, it goes wrong when Hamilton has a bad race. Sky shouldn’t spend hours trying to figure out why he didn’t win. Let’s admit it wasn’t his day and move on.
I wish I could speak hours about all the tiny little details, but I think I outlined all the important stuff here. Anyway, for the first time ever I felt Sky being more professional than before. In overall I give them 7/10 which is more than ever before.
With C4 I’m struggling a lot. I don’t think the casual fan gets the right message about F1 from them anymore. 6/10 just because of the great team.
I don’t have Sky but watch C4 and listen to 5 Live.
Of the C4 regulars, Ben Edwards and Lee Mackenzie are excellent and I like DC as a co-commentator. I’m afraid I can’t bear Steve Jones and his over the top fawning to interviewees and his team of pundits but I accept this is a matter of taste as I can see that many people think he is doing a good job. I find Susie W rather dull and compromised by her marriage to the boss of one of the leading teams. Mark Webber is great when he is being opinionated but needs to improve his fluency and precision – hopefully that will come with practice. I also like Eddie Jordan because he does criticise the teams even if it is often misplaced! My main criticism this year of the coverage is that it often seems like the Lewis Hamilton/Sebastian Vettel show with anyone outside the big three teams very much treated as footnotes (contrast the BBC TV coverage which I think was more balanced). Despite that I am thankful that C4 stepped up when the BBC let us down and shall be very sad when free to air ends this time next year.
I think 5 Live’s coverage is consistently good and the core team of Jack, Tom and Jenny is very sound. I especially enjoy listening to free practice where they have plenty of time to delve into current F1 issues and discuss the smaller teams. These discussions are especially good when the ever excellent Andrew Benson joins in. Their pundits are less good but I enjoy John Watson’s occasional contributions.
As a Sky subscriber I only watch Sky on weekends when Channel 4 are showing highlights. I find the Channel 4 coverage better all round, I much prefer Ben Edwards and Steve Jones to Crofty and Simon Lazenby. The only thing I miss when watching Channel 4 is Martin Brundle who is by far the best F1 broadcaster out there. Also a special mention to the BBC 5 live team who do excellent podcasts and provide F1’s answer to Test Match Special during practice sessions.
My dream f1 TV team based on people from this year would be:
Presenter: Steve Jones
Lead Commentator: Ben Edwards
Colour Commentator: Martin Brundle (DC for practice sessions)
Pit lane reporters: Lee McKenzie and Ted Kravits
Driving Analyst: Ant Davidson
Tech Analyst: Pat Symonds
Pundits (on rotation): DC, Mark Webber, Eddie Jordan, Susie Wolf.
I’ve subscribed to Sky F1 since its launch, but watch Channel 4 EVERY time they have a race live as their presentation and team have, for me, a much fresher and entertaining feel.
I was horrified when Steve Jones was announced as lead presenter having never been a fan of his ‘ironic’ delivery and previous shows (Sexbox anyone?!), but I’ve been really surprised and warmed to him. There are still times I think he could dial it down a little, but he makes Simon Lazonby look flat (though I’d say he’s a solid, low-risk presenter who will always do a steady job).
Ben Edwards and David Coulthard win out in the commentary box as, although I really miss Martin Brundle, I’m afraid David Croft is a huge turn-off. Trying far too hard to be funny, sadly he makes me reach for the ‘mute’ button. He’s terrible on the darts commentary too (or was) for the BBC with his knock-off Sid Waddell impersonation. Please replace him!
C4 win out on the pundits in my opinion as well with their rotating cast more energised than Herbert and Hill.
As has been said already, Sky’s coverage is feeling tired and complacent. I’m sure the budget cuts they’ve reportedly had over the years have made things difficult, but they need to up their game in several areas.
C4’s coverage reminds me most of the BBC days – before Sky entered the fray and the ‘talent’ was split between the two camps. What a shame.
As I have access to Sky, I only ever watch their coverage. So this will mainly cover Sky’s broadcasting.
I think Sky’s coverage is good but not great. They do get some things right:
– Martin Brundle, he is an excellent pundit. This was his 20th year covering the sport as a pundit/commentator and he still has the same enthusiasm and passion as he did when he first started. His knowledge and insight of F1 is second to none. I know Channel 4 have David Coulthard but Martin Brundle has been doing this longer than he has and is quite unique in the F1 world. If he were to ever leave F1 broadcasting it would be a sad moment as we would be losing one of the greats.
– The on-screen graphics (Driver’s Championship & Constructer’s Championship standings) were changed in the summer in line with Sky Sports’ rebranding. It was well over-due as I don’t think it had changed since the channel’s inception in 2012. It makes F1 feel more modern with the new font and colours.
– Sky’s F1 Maverick’s series was really interesting to watch, they had features on Fernando Alonso, Gilles Villeneuve, Graham Hill & Bernie Ecclestone. It definitely made the build up to qualifying or a race better. Most of Sky’s features are usually of a high quality, whether it’s an interview with a current driver or a look back to a classic F1 car, race or moment. More of this in 2018 please!
– Anthony Davidson brings good knowledge with him when he’s not racing in WEC. I like the fact that when he is comparing qualifying laps between 1st and 2nd. He usually finds a reference point to show the gap between the two cars (a shadow or a bridge). This is something Paul Di Resta doesn’t do. It’s only a small thing but sometimes the small things make a big difference.
However, I do feel there is room for improvement at Sky. Here are the things I would do to improve their coverage:
– Stop being biased towards Lewis Hamilton. I know this is something a lot of people probably already know but the more it goes on the worse it gets. Yes Lewis Hamilton is a very good driver, I have no doubt about that. Yes he is probably the most popular driver in the world with regards to his global appeal. But Sky have this obsession with him. It’s like all of the other 19 drivers are beneath him. After qualifying or a race where Hamilton does not claim pole position or win, one of the first points they ask is any of the following: Why did Lewis retire? Was there a problem with his car? Is there a problem with his mindset? Most of if not all of the Sky team have been guilty of this in the past but the biggest culprit has to be Simon Lazenby. As the host, he should be neutral and impartial. But he is on another level, it can be quite embarrassing to watch at times. You can almost see the disappointment on their faces when Hamilton isn’t on pole or does not win a race. He is also immune from criticism, when was the last time a member of Sky’s team said something negative about him? Even when he missed the F1 Live event in London earlier this year Sky acknowledged it but refused to condemn his absence. Lewis Hamilton is not bigger than F1. F1 is and will always be bigger than him. I’m afraid that there is no quick fix to this and the only way this will end is when Lewis Hamilton leaves F1 (whenever that is).
– Remove ‘Track Parade’ from Sunday’s broadcast. I find that all that happens in this 30 minute slot is reviewing the previous days qualifying session (which they do the day before anyway) and show the driver interviews while they are waving to the crowd (I’m not too bothered about this). Sky’s pre race coverage is 90 minutes long. I personally think that this is too long. I think if they just had ‘Pit Lane Live’ and ‘Race Show’ this would be enough, 1 hour would be fine. Another reason for this is that for a normal European race, Sky’s coverage is on air from 11:30-16:15. That is 4 hours and 45 minutes! Cutting that back to 4 hours and 15 minutes would be a good move.
– Have a guest pundit a few times a season. For the Japanese GP, Nico Rosberg was a guest on the Sky team. He was a breath of fresh air from the usual analysis provided by any of the following pundits post qualifying & post race: Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, Anthony Davidson & Paul Di Resta. It was nice to hear from someone else for a change. I’m not saying the usual pundits aren’t good but sometimes they are quite predictable and I just feel it’s sometimes nice to try something different every once in a while. He talked about how he coped with fighting Lewis Hamilton for the championship and the mindset he had to go into to beat him. It was fascinating insight. He really settled well into the role, he got used to it very quickly. Every three of four races it would be good if Sky could hire an ex F1 driver as a pundit similar to Rosberg just to inject a bit of spark in their analysis.
– Bring back The F1 Show. It seems strange that Sky ditched this. They have their own dedicated F1 channel. When they’re not showing live races they just show the usual races from the season so far and some classic races aswell along with F1 Legends. Show something else! There’s so many free slots to fill! I think it should be brought back, if not for every race then every few races at least. Or even just for the British GP or at the beginning and end of the season. 1 live F1 Show a year wouldn’t hurt!
– Promote Marc Priestley to a pundit. I always watch the F1 Report and he does a great job every week with his views and opinions. He lives and breathes motorsport. He was not a driver in F1 but he was a mechanic for McLaren and he seems to know a lot about the sport. He never says anything boring, he never sounds dull. He could easily stand alongside any of the usual pundits after a race and make good interesting points. He does have some ties to Formula E so it might not happen yet but it’s definitely something Sky could look into in the future, especially if Martin Brundle retired (which would be a nightmare and a massive blow to Sky’s F1 coverage).
It seems as if I’m being more negative than positive about Sky’s broadcasting. It is good, I just feel it could be better. Sky have shown with the other sports they cover that they can innovate. If they could just fine tune what is already a very good broadcast setup then they could make it a great broadcast. Sky definitely have the potential to do this but will they do it? We’ll just have to wait and see…