Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok will be part of Sky’s Formula 1 team for the 2019 season, the broadcaster has confirmed.
It is Chandhok’s second stint with Sky, having been part of their team in a supplementary role between 2012 and 2014. Chandhok stepped in at various races during the three seasons to provide expert analysis on the Sky Pad.
Not long after he left Sky, Chandhok was back on the UK radar, this time with Channel 4 from 2016 to 2018. His Channel 4 role was a considerable step up for Chandhok, as he became the broadcaster’s regular pit lane reporter during every race weekend.
Now, with Channel 4 stepping out of the live limelight (for all but one race), Chandhok makes the jump back to Sky for 2019.
Chandhok, who recently became a father for the first time, said, “I’m very excited to be re-joining the Sky Sports F1 team from the 2019 season. With their long-term commitment to Formula 1 and the team of people that’s in place, it’s a great time to return.”
“I believe that I’ve been able to develop and offer viewers a unique perspective of someone with a technical, strategic and historical knowledge of the sport combined with the experience of 18 years of driving racing cars.”
Scott Young, Sky’s Head of Formula 1, added, “We are delighted that Karun has decided to return to Sky Sports F1. Our team is renowned for their knowledge and credibility and Karun, who is a familiar and respected member within the paddock, will elevate our ability to tell the F1 story as it unfolds live across our screens.”
“This is an exciting time to be a part of the sport and our commitment to our customers is our daily focus as we prepare for a new era in live F1 coverage.”
It is the second announcement for Sky in quick succession, having announced Jenson Button’s arrival a few weeks ago. Unless Young axes anyone from Sky’s team between now and Australia, their on-air team stands at 14 people:
- Simon Lazenby (Presenter)
- Natalie Pinkham (Pitlane)
- David Croft (Commentator)
- Martin Brundle (Commentator + Pundit)
- Anthony Davidson (Pundit)
- Damon Hill (Pundit)
- Jenson Button (Pundit)
- Johnny Herbert (Pundit)
- Karun Chandhok (Pundit)
- Nico Rosberg (Pundit)
- Paul di Resta (Pundit)
- Ted Kravitz (Pitlane)
- Craig Slater (Sky Sports News)
- Rachel Brookes (Sky Sports News)
With 21 races on the calendar, it is clear that Sky need more on-air personnel to cope with the ever-expanding Grand Prix schedule. However, there is also a possible element of “too many cooks” here.
Chandhok is a fantastic addition to Sky’s line-up, if there was one person I thought Sky should try to grab, it was him. I really hope Sky use him well across the Grand Prix season, not only using his expertise for Formula 1, but also for their Formula Two and Formula Three output, which I really hope benefits from the additional on-air personnel.
An expanded team should give Sky the capability to do more throughout the weekend, so that their product is more all rounded than what is currently on offer to fans. Of course, this assumes Sky are not quietly dropping anyone as mooted a few months ago…
Inevitably, Chandhok’s departure from Channel 4 raises the question of who is going to be part of their line-up. With only one race, departures were expected.
At a minimum, Channel 4’s production team (whether it is Whisper Films or someone else) need a presenter, a commentator, a pundit who can double up as a commentator, and a reporter.
I understand that there are further changes afoot as well at Whisper where Channel 4’s F1 coverage is concerned, which I am currently working to confirm.