Former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali will be part of Channel 4’s Formula 1 team for the upcoming 2019 season, the broadcaster has announced.
Domenicali, who was Ferrari’s team principal between 2008 and 2014, will join the team “as a pundit and analyst for a number of races” this season. Adding Domenicali to the line-up adds a new perspective to the line-up outside of the cockpit, helping to keep Channel 4’s offering fresh this year.
Given Domenicali’s historical links with Ferrari, I am hopeful that this opens both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel more to a UK audience this year, allowing UK fans to see more of their characters away from the track.
Channel 4’s line-up now consists of eight people in total. Steve Jones continues as lead presenter, with Ben Edwards as lead commentator. David Coulthard joins him in the commentary box, whilst Billy Monger, Mark Webber, Eddie Jordan and now Domenicali will provide analysis throughout the year.
Lee McKenzie continues at some races as interviewer, however, she will not be in the interview pen…
Restrictions placed upon C4
The BBC’s Andrew Benson is reporting that various restrictions have been placed upon Channel 4’s highlights programming by Sky, which this site can confirm.
I understand that Channel 4 cannot interview anyone on the grid before the race, nor can the broadcaster access the pit lane during the race itself. In addition, Benson notes that Channel 4’s interviews from the interview ‘pen’ must come from Sky.
As revealed last September, Channel 4’s highlights will be shorter this season, and begin a minimum of three hours after the race. The highlights package for the race will be two hours long including adverts, with qualifying clocking in at 90 minutes.
The race edit itself will be slightly shorter than previously years. In September, I wrote “around seven fewer minutes of action per race.” This will vary across the season, with races such as Australia this weekend hit the hardest.
In other words, Sky has a significant amount of control over what Channel 4 can and cannot air as part of its programming. It will be intriguing to see how Whisper Films works around the tight restrictions that Sky have enforced on them as the season progresses.
Elsewhere, fans will hear a different theme from the get-go on Saturday, with Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain no longer Channel 4’s signature theme. Channel 4 have yet to announce a new theme.