Alex Jacques will be W Series lead commentator for the 2020 season which begins in May, the series has confirmed.
Jacques, who took over as Formula Two lead commentator at the beginning of 2015, replaces Claire Cottingham in the commentary booth. In making the announcement, series organisers say that they have “made a conscious effort to fulfil its mission of continuing to develop emerging talent on and off track.”
Cottingham was commentator throughout the first season of the all-female series, commentating alongside the likes of David Coulthard and Allan McNish.
Motorsport Broadcasting understands that the decision to replace Cottingham was made by W Series themselves, as opposed to Whisper, who produce coverage of the series.
“I’ve followed W Series with great interest throughout its first season, 2019, and I’ve been extremely impressed by what I’ve seen, so much so that when I received the call inviting me to become its lead commentator, it was a very easy decision to make,” Jacques said.
“But, in addition to the spectacle and appeal of W Series, I’m truly delighted to be taking this opportunity to make a positive impact on a sport and industry that I’ve come to love and respect.”
Speaking to Motorsport Broadcasting at the Autosport Show, W Series’ CEO Catherine Bond-Muir defended the decision to replace Cottingham with Jacques.
“Now we’ve had one season, I think we’re much better placed to go out and get the best lead commentator in the world, and we believe that Alex is one of them,” she said.
“He’s young, incredibly enthusiastic and has got a fantastic voice. I think it’s a real feather in our cap that we can get a commentator of that quality.”
“From the beginning, I was very keen to get as many women involved at all. But what we must remember is that we are a business that promotes women in motor sport,” Bond-Muir continued.
“David [Coulthard] said ‘you’ve got to see this guy Matt Bishop’, but I had no interest in having a male as communications director, because in quite a sexist thought in my head, I thought ‘at least we should have the comms director being female’. In hindsight, Matt was so much better than anyone else.”
“I had an early problem with having so many men involved, but actually what we needed to have, are the people who are the best in the business in their roles in order to complete all of our aims.”
“What’s quite important is that we don’t positively discriminate against men too,” she added. “We are an equal opportunities employer, but I do understand the point that you make. I think Claire is fantastic, she’s a great friend of ours.”
“Having someone of Alex’s calibre, who is really in demand, the fact that he is so keen to get involved in W Series I think is a great feather in our cap.”
W Series plan to make further announcements about their on-air team soon. Last year, Lee McKenzie presented the World Feed output, with Ted Kravitz reporting from pit lane.
One mooted suggestion is that a female could partner Jacques in the commentary box, continuing the gender split.
The all-female series clashes with the Italian round of the Formula Two season, meaning that Jacques will miss one of the two events. I understand that Jacques is continuing with his Formula 1 commitments for the 2020 season, covering the Pit Lane Channel, Formula Two and Formula Three.
Organisers of the championship have also confirmed that Whisper are remaining on-board as production partners for a second season, but no news is yet available regarding the status of the series on Channel 4 in the UK.