Ted Kravitz will remain part of Sky’s Formula 1 team for the upcoming 2019 season, this site can confirm following a period of intense speculation about his future.
Kravitz’s future has been subject of social media discussion for several days, with reports circulating last Friday that Kravitz will not be part of Sky’s set-up this season. In an article on this website, Sky have listed Kravitz as part of their 2019 team.
The story behind the story can be traced back to the end of 2017, when Sky appointed Scott Young as their Head of Formula 1, following Martin Turner’s departure from the team.
2018 was always going to be a year of transition as Young looked to see what, in his view, is working, and what needed shaking up within the Sky F1 hierarchy.
As this site predicted months before Young joined, the new person in town had a difficult task ahead of them. “Do they upset the apple cart by creating a fresh new line-up, mixed with the old and the new, or will they stick by their current talent?” were the words that I wrote half way through 2017.
And, as reported last September, it became apparent that Young was looking to shake things up. Both Karun Chandhok and Jenson Button joined the team ahead of this season, whilst the broadcaster was quick to deny other rumours that were making their way through the Grand Prix paddock.
Industry sources have indicated to this site for some time that Kravitz’s Sky future was in doubt. Motorsport Broadcasting can now confirm the reports that circulated over the weekend that Young initially opted not to renew Kravitz’s contract for the 2019 season.
However, this site can exclusively confirm that the decision to axe Kravitz was overturned from within, with discussions between Sky and Kravitz ongoing regarding his ‘return’ in recent weeks.
The u-turn from Sky is not a result of any social media storm that unfolded over the weekend, the wheels for his return were in motion far before the leak. This writer chose not to write about the subject of Kravitz’s potential exit given that negotiations were ongoing between both parties, and any decision to publish an article could jeopardise those.
Elsewhere, Sky have confirmed that Anthony Davidson will remain part of their line-up despite Sky omitting him from their press release last Friday. Expect a similar number of races for Davidson compared to previous years.
Analysis: Better heads prevail
Possibly one of the most surprising, and bewildering, Formula 1 broadcasting stories, on a human level, in years. Was Scott Young really thinking of getting rid of Ted Kravitz from the Sky Sports F1 set-up?
Amazingly, astonishingly, the answer is yes.
The idea of people coming and going is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. Ask Jonathan Legard, Gary Anderson, or Georgie Ainslie (nee. Thompson), three examples of where a UK F1 broadcaster has parted company with the talent in question (or vice versa) for one reason or another in the off-season.
The idea of a new person coming in to the lead the ship and wanting some fresh blood through the doors is also not a novel concept, it is a concept that exists in businesses worldwide.
But, the idea of not renewing the contract of one of the most popular on-air team members from the Sky Sports F1 line-up in a year where Sky needs every viewer and subscription they can get from Formula 1 strikes me as a very narrow-minded decision.
If you asked one hundred F1 fans on the street what they would change about Sky’s F1 line-up, I suspect very few would say ‘get rid of Ted Kravitz’. In a poll on this site in 2016 asking fans who they thought was Sky F1’s biggest asset, Kravitz placed second, with Martin Brundle heading the table.
Only Scott Young can answer why he thought axing Kravitz was a good idea. Whether it is his view that only ex-drivers and ex-F1 personnel can be pundits, I do not know. You do not need to have ‘been there, done that’ to be knowledgeable on a subject. Kravitz may not have been a racer, but he has risen through the ranks of ITV, BBC and now Sky.
Inevitably, some of the above leads us to the decision to overturn Young’s original move. Those within the Sky set-up will know how popular Kravitz is, and no doubt will have tried to fight his corner in the battle to keep him in the line-up.
Some of those working with Kravitz have worked with him since the BBC and ITV F1 days, so have had a longstanding professional and personal relationship with him. Given the outcome that we now know, clearly those that did fight for him behind the scenes went some distance to get the outcome they, and the fans, wanted.
The outcry on Twitter that has dominated the weekend were a day late, and a dollar short. Kravitz’s absence from the first F1 test in Barcelona, where he would have normally presented his Notebook output on Sky Sports, made it clear to those watching that something was going on behind the scenes, making a leak inevitable.
Some of the comments on social media, specifically those directed towards Karun Chandhok (who Young has brought into the fold), have bordered on being frankly unacceptable and abhorrent.
I understand the frustration (proving the point of Kravitz’s popularity), but that does not excuse those who have directed abuse towards other members of Sky’s team, and Young himself for that matter.
About Kravitz himself, are his contributions as good as they were a few years ago? In my view, Sky overexpose him slightly on-air, and his content around the Notebook could do with evolving somewhat. Those are minor concerns though, and certainly nothing to suggest that Sky should get rid of him. He is still one of the best members of Sky’s on-air team.
Whether Kravitz has a long-term future at Sky beyond 2019, or whether he is with them for every race this season, is unclear. I would not be at all surprised if F1 themselves came knocking for 2020 if it came to fruition that this is a short-term contract between Sky and Kravitz.
For the moment, better heads have prevailed, and Sky have avoided a PR disaster after a weekend to forget across social media.
Now, when does Australia start?