Formula E part company with Jack Nicholls with immediate effect

Formula E is in search of a commentator to lead their coverage on a full-time basis after parting ways with Jack Nicholls, Motorsport Broadcasting has learnt.

Nicholls, who has been part of Formula E since its inaugural race in 2014, will not commentate on the remaining seven rounds of the 2022-23 season.

Veteran motor sport commentator Ben Edwards will cover the vacant commentary position for the remainder of the season, starting with the Jakarta race weekend, which takes place on Saturday 3th and Sunday 4th June.

The electric series has confirmed this news through a statement issued on their website, following a request for comment made by Motorsport Broadcasting.

Note: Below section added on May 31st.
Motorsport Broadcasting understands that multiple complaints were raised to Formula E about Nicholls.

As a result, Nicholls has been off-site since the Cape Town E-Prix in February, with commentary for the last three Formula E race weekends produced from London.

In parallel, the series launched an investigation into the complaint, the outcome of which was conclusive, leading to his departure for “inappropriate behaviour.”

Multiple sources close to the situation have contacted this writer in recent days, confirming the above. The news was first reported publicly by The Times, with further details included, including quotes from Formula E and Nicholls.

The Times report that the series received three complaints, claiming that they had been touched inappropriately by Nicholls.

Formula E has not yet responded to a further request for comment from Motorsport Broadcasting.

In a statement to The Times, they said “Formula E can confirm that an investigation was carried out in response to complaints of inappropriate behaviour received about Jack Nicholls.”

“Following this investigation, Jack Nicholls’s contract to provide race commentary was terminated.”

Speaking to The Times, Nicholls said “Although disappointed with the decision, I respect it and accept why it was taken.”

“I want to take full responsibility for what I did and apologise unreservedly for a couple of isolated incidents that has made those concerned feel uncomfortable. I never meant any harm and I am committed to making amends and to be more mindful of my behaviour in future.”

A surprise change

Changes in broadcasting personnel during a motor racing season are rare, especially for high-profile roles, which is what makes the Formula E’s decision surprising for fans of the series.

Formula E began in September 2014 with the Beijing E-Prix, won by Lucas di Grassi, although the dramatic last-lap accident between Nico Prost and Nick Heidfeld made headlines.

Nicholls has been there from the beginning, and his iconic “And we go green!” calls at the start of each E-Prix quickly became synonymous with Formula E’s broadcasts.

Four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti joined Nicholls, and the two quickly formed a successful commentary partnership, with Nicki Shields providing additional analysis from the pit lane.

This role was Nicholls’ breakthrough into the limelight, leading to his involvement with the BBC’s 5 Live Formula 1 line-up.

While Martin Haven substituted for Nicholls on a handful of occasions, Nicholls remained the lead commentator for Formula E, providing commentary on the series’ highs and lows.

Franchitti’s decision to reduce his commitments to Formula E in the off-season affected the commentary line-up, resulting in a rotating roster that included Karun Chandhok and Oliver Askew partnering with Nicholls.

Nicholls has been off-site since the Cape Town E-Prix in February, with commentary for the last three race weekends produced from London. Formula E has not disclosed the reason for Nicholls’ departure, however it is unrelated to the recent senior leadership reshuffle within the organisation.

Edwards joins the Formula E presentation team for the remainder of the season after his stint with Formula 1, where he commentated on F1’s over-the-top platform last season.

Prior to that, Edwards has worked with Channel 4 on their F1 coverage as well as ITV, Sky Sports, and Eurosport, spanning a career of four decades.

“I am very excited to get back behind the mic with Formula E as the on-track action this season is a commentator’s dream,” said Edwards.

“The championship is more competitive than ever and I get to bring that to life for viewers around the world. I’m delighted to be joining the team and calling the action in Jakarta.”

Other changes to Formula E’s on-air team

Nicholls’ departure from Formula E is one of three changes for Jakarta, as Nicki Shields and Vernon Kay are also absent.

In Kay’s case, he is no longer part of Formula E’s full-time on-air team, as he focuses on his new role at BBC Radio 2.

These changes mean that, for the first time ever in Jakarta, none of the original ‘Formula E trio’ (Nicholls, Franchitti, or Shields) will be present during the series’ television coverage.

Pit lane reporter Radzi Chinyanganya presents coverage from Jakarta, with Saunders Carmichael-Brown stepping into Chinyanganya’s role in the pit lane. Nelson Piquet Jr., Oliver Askew, and Kelvin van der Linde will also provide analysis of the action.

Karun Chandhok partners with Edwards in the commentary booth, as the Jakarta weekend marks rounds 10 and 11 of the current season.

Jakarta was a hit with fans domestically last year, attracting over 13 million viewers, and series organisers will be hoping for a similar response this time around.

Update on May 27th – Nicholls will not fulfil his commitments with the BBC’s 5 Live F1 team for the remainder of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend in a decision taken by Nicholls rather than the broadcaster, I understand.

Tom Gaymor will replace Nicholls for the final practice session, with Harry Benjamin stepping in qualifying and the race, commentating alongside Jolyon Palmer and Rosanna Tennant.

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18 thoughts on “Formula E part company with Jack Nicholls with immediate effect

  1. Remarkable, given the fact that Jack has always displayed a lot of enthusiasm for the series, how unwarranted it may have been. I think it is a house of cards ready to fall apart whatever Agag may have predicted.

  2. Never like to see someone lose a gig but Nichols is one of the major reasons why I don’t look forward to FE as I do other motorsport that I follow. His style really grates with me and I guess with a lot of others given what has happened.

  3. Well FE royally screwed themselves. Be like the bbc getting rid of Murray Walker and replacing him with Croft screaming at you instead

    1. You forgot about james Allen and john leggard… who were better than David Croft who’d rather be watching two fat dudes playing snooker or darts.
      Oh, and there was that year that Martin Brundle was lead comms and David couthard was color… which was surprisingly good.
      Poor Murray had lost a step and it was obvious in the few races he did after retiring. Which is ok, cuz he’d earned the right.

  4. Surely there’s more to this than FE just ditched him, it doesn’t make any sense?

    Arguably Ben Edwards is the perhaps the best of the best – certainly a consummate professional and clear communicator, but what FE are missing here – if it’s as simple as they just got rid of him – is how much Nichols has been an advocate of the championship – he comes across as a friend of the drivers, supporter of the electric racing cause, host of wider FE events, and is the voice synonymous with the series. He’s basically wider championship free PR from the outsiders perspective. The general banter, knowledge and humour he brings especially through odd practice sessions etc I’ve seen isn’t something Edwards will be able to replicate, and won’t even be able to build up to if he’s doing it from off site in the UK; he’ll never make the same level of driver connections and relationships.

    Surely such a strange decision will whether justified or not, lead to questions about wider championship stability. And if it’s about TV ratings, then don’t change the top talent, get more consistent mainstream TV slots!

    Got to feel sorry for Nicholls, who didn’t deserve to loose his job. But also feel sorry for Edwards, as he will potentially prove unpopular for getting the gig, and you’ve got to worry about how and why this came about and what it means for the championship’s broadcast stability and future…

    Unless there’s something we all don’t know, a bad, silly, strange choice.

    If Jack got the sack, he shouldn’t have.

  5. Is it just that think they need even more diversity ? All the replacements seem to be non white 😕

  6. Curiously, Nicholls is also missing from the BBC commentary team for the Monaco GP today.

    1. FWiW, he was on the BBC Chequered Flag race preview podcast, though all but one of the team were participating from London. Could be budgeting decisions…

  7. Really sad news. It seems like with him also not doing F1 that it must be a decision he made, presumably in both cases. Although that’s pure speculation. I hope he and his family are ok, and I hope perhaps we might see him back in FE next season. Although it doesn’t look right now as if that’s likely. Who knows.

    1. Being reported elsewhere that Nicholls’ departure was due to issues of conduct, but that is media speculation at this stage and has not, as far as I’m aware, yet been confirmed by Formula E

      1. I didn’t see that coming. But he seemed to suggest that whatever it was, it was completely unintentional and so on. I don’t know because I don’t know what the article said in the times. But it would be tough to have this be the outcome of something that you should be able to sincerely apologise for, and that be it. But maybe that’s not the case, and this course of action was warranted. Just more speculation on my part.

  8. It’s a shame the Times article is so poorly written. It’s unclear if it was “man had relationship at work, and got found out which was considered gross misconduct” or if there was more to it than that.

    1. Strongly concur with this comment.
      In such matters, it’s really important to be clear and accurate about what the situation is. I read it as you speculatively described it. Therefore, at this stage, I’m giving Nicholls the benefit of my doubt and ignoring the more lurid claims made without evidence.

  9. Jack was a real joy to read when he was part of that Motorsports Broadcasting thread on Digital Spy with our host here and some other great posters.

    Alas I was banned of having non-conforming opinions and didn’t get to interact any longer.

    I wish Jack all the best going forward.

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