David Croft will remain part of Sky’s Formula 1 team in 2019, the broadcaster has confirmed.
The broadcaster issued the statement to this site after F1 journalist Joe Saward reported rumours, through the Missed Apex Podcast last night, that Croft could be axed from Sky’s team in 2019. Sky strongly deny the rumour.
Speaking to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, Sky said “David [Croft] remains a part of the team and he’ll be with us when we become the exclusive home of Formula 1 in 2019.” In their statement, Sky did not confirm, and did not elaborate on, whether Croft would remain in his current lead commentator role.
Croft has commentated on Formula 1 coverage in the UK for over a decade. He started his F1 career as commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live in 2006, before moving to Sky Sports in 2012 as part of the shake-up of coverage at that time.
Whilst at Sky, Croft has taken on additional duties, such as presenting The F1 Show on occasion, as well as his #AskCrofty post-race segments.
A rumour, quickly followed by denial
In my article last week, I referenced potential changes to Sky’s line-up for 2019, noting that paddock sources expect some form of change, with Scott Young now leading the production team.
I also noted that I was unwilling to elaborate on the paddock rumours, as “at this stage they are just that, rumours.” One of the snippets of speculation was that Croft’s future at Sky could be in jeopardy, which Saward reported publicly on the podcast. As the information had entered the public domain, I tweeted out what Saward reported, which Sky quickly denied.
However, Sky’s statement does not confirm whether Croft will continue in his current role. This may infer that Croft is moving to a different role within Sky’s F1 team, although that would appear unlikely.
Top-class motor sport commentators are in limited supply, and finding someone who is up to the job is a difficult task. One paddock source claimed that Sky approached another commentator to cover Formula 1 in 2019, however the commentator in question quashed this piece of information.
Update – Priestley confirms his departure from Sky’s F1 setup
Shortly after writing the above block on Croft, former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley confirmed his exit from Sky’s Formula 1 team on Friday 29th September.
Priestley has worked both in front and behind the camera at Sky at various points since 2013, regularly appearing on the F1 Report since 2016 until it ended earlier this year as well as working on the production side of things.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Priestley said “I have been freelance for a number of years, and as many of you know, I have done around half of the races each season, most of them with Sky Sports.”
“Sky is changing the way they do things over the next year and coming years as they go exclusive. They’ve got a new boss in town, and as things stand, I don’t think I am part of their future plans. It’s been an absolute honour and pleasure, and an education to work with such a high calibre organisation.
“The Formula 1 product at Sky I believe is second to none. There’s no hard feelings with Sky, so I will be spending less time with them, but who knows what the future will hold.”
More stories such as Priestley’s may emerge soon. His departure is likely a combination of the F1 Report ending, plus the need for fewer people to be on-site for Sky as they move increasingly towards a ‘remote production’ setup.