Scheduling: The 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

After Lewis Hamilton made history last weekend in the Algarve, F1 heads east to Italy for the return of Imola to the calendar!

Because of the 24 hour distance between the two locations by car, unusually the F1 weekend is only two days long, with a 90-minute practice session taking place on Saturday morning, followed by qualifying later.

The race itself starts at 12:10 UK time, primarily because of the early sunset. If you think that is earlier than usual, brace yourselves for the Turkish Grand Prix, which begins at 10:10 UK time a fortnight later.

Elsewhere, there is little to report with the World Touring Car Cup heading to Aragon for the penultimate event of its heavily truncated season.

Channel 4 F1
31/10 – 17:15 to 18:45 – Qualifying Highlights
01/11 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
31/10 – 08:30 to 10:45
=> 08:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 09:00 – Practice
31/10 – 12:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying
01/11 – 10:30 to 15:30 – Race
=> 10:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 12:05 – Race
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 15:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
04/11 – 19:30 to 21:00 – F1 Pro Series Race 4 and 5
04/11 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief
05/11 – 19:30 to 21:00 – F1 Pro Series Race 6

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
29/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
31/10 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
31/10 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/11 – 12:00 to 14:15 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

World Touring Car Cup – Spain (Eurosport 2)
31/10 – 12:15 to 13:15 – Qualifying
01/11 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Race 1
01/11 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race 2
01/11 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Race 3

If any details change, this article will be updated.

Sky reaps the ratings rewards in truncated F1 season

Sky Sports have reaped the rewards of a truncated Formula 1 season as the season heads towards its finale in Abu Dhabi, analysis of viewing figures conducted by Motorsport Broadcasting shows.

After a four month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season eventually started in Austria on Sunday 5th July.

Since then, a further ten races have taken place across Europe, with six more currently scheduled to take place between now and the middle of December.

Analysis of the first 10 races suggests that Sky’s audience figures have increased significantly, according to consolidated data produced by BARB.

As always, viewing figures below are for the TV set only, excluding on-demand platforms such as Now TV, Sky Go, All 4, as well as those who consume their F1 experience via BBC Radio 5 Live.

Sky’s viewing figures increase…
The pandemic means that year-on-year comparisons are very difficult, however it is still possible to draw some high-level conclusions from the current data points.

During the pandemic world, Sky have split their race day programme into three segments: the pre-race build-up, the race itself, and post-race analysis.

Every race this season has averaged comfortably above one million viewers on the pay TV platform, with 1.20 million viewers tuning into the action on average, an increase by around 17 percent compared to the final position last year.

Last year’s races (excluding build-up and post-race analysis) averaged around 1.02 million viewers, although this figure includes races such as Australia, Singapore, and Mexico.

Removing all Asian and American-based races from the 2019 data set makes little difference, as the Asian and American time-zones races largely off-set each other (Asian races draw low audiences, American races draw higher audiences).

In other words, Sky’s 17 percent increase year-on-year is a true reflection of reality, and not a massaged picture because of the unusual 2020 calendar.

Last year, seven European races struggled to reach one million viewers on Sky. Excluding Britain, last year’s European races stretched from 799,000 viewers (for Spain) to 1.41 million viewers (for Bahrain).

The inaugural Styrian Grand Prix is this year’s nadir for Sky so far at 1.05 million viewers, with the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix hitting a 2020 high of 1.37 million viewers one week earlier, a far smaller spread than previous years.

As well as Austria, the Spanish Grand Prix was Sky’s other big rater so far in 2020, helped by its Sky Sports Main Event simulcast. The race itself averaged 1.33 million viewers, almost double last year’s figure.

Normally, the Barcelona race clashes with the final weekend of the football season, whereas this year’s running in mid-August meant it ran with little sporting opposition compared to usual, boosting numbers.

Pierre Gasly’s shock win in the Italian Grand Prix drew fewer viewers, averaging 1.22 million viewers, however did not enjoy the luxury of also airing live on Main Event.

…helping the overall picture
Overall, Channel 4’s highlights programming has brought in a similar average audience to last year. Excluding Silverstone (which the free-to-air broadcaster covered live), their highlights have averaged 1.75 million viewers on average, including pre- and post-race analysis.

In comparison, highlights of last year’s European races averaged 1.81 million viewers, a slight year-on-year drop, perhaps surprisingly when you consider that Channel 4 are airing a longer race edit compared to twelve months ago.

Last year, highlights of the Monaco and German rounds exceeded two million viewers, a barometer this year’s highlights have yet to hit.

Helped by the chaos in the early phases, highlights of the Tuscan Grand Prix proved to be Channel 4’s high point from a highlights perspective so far this year, averaging 1.99 million viewers.

Overall, an audience just shy of three million viewers on average are watching each race across Sky and Channel 4, peaking with around four million viewers. At its peak, the figures suggest around 1.5 million viewers are watching on Sky, with a further 2.5 million viewers following on Channel 4.

The key overriding message is that Formula 1’s viewing figures have remained incredibly stable throughout the pandemic. Are there lessons to learn for the championship moving forward?

Arguably the pandemic is an excellent opportunity to review the fundamental structure of the Grand Prix calendar, grouping races into clusters and making it easier for fans to follow the championship through the season, boosting audience figures.

Critically for Sky, their viewing figures show no sign of any ‘second season’ dip in the second year covering F1 exclusively, with viewing figures not only increasing for Formula 1, but also increasing for feeder series’ Formula Two and Formula Three.

Viewing figures may drop if, as looks likely, Lewis Hamilton does clinch the championship with a few races to spare, but so far, the picture is looking good.

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Scheduling: The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

For the first time in 24 years, Formula 1 heads to Portugal for the Portuguese Grand Prix!

Instead of heading to Estoril, which hosted the last race there in 1996, the championship instead heads to the 2.9-mile circuit in the Algarve for its inaugural visit.

Live coverage of the race airs as usual on Sky Sports F1, the Grand Prix itself beginning at 13:10 UK time.

Later, the IndyCar Series concludes with the race that was meant to begin its COVID-19 disrupted year in St Petersburg. Scott Dixon looks set to clinch the crown, but Josef Newgarden is close in his mirror.

As if that was not enough, Sky are also airing live coverage of the Spa 24 Hours on Sky Sports F1! The majority of the 24 hours air live on the channel. I would expect the remainder to air live behind the Red Button, but this is unconfirmed as of writing.

With F1 and IndyCar, it means there is over 37 hours of live motor sport on Sky next weekend.

Elsewhere, the British Touring Car Championship starts earlier than usual on ITV4, as the nights draw in heading into the Winter months.

NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 25th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4 F1
24/10 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
25/10 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
23/10 – 10:30 to 12:45 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 10:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 11:00 – Practice 1
23/10 – 14:45 to 16:45 – Practice 2
24/10 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
24/10 – 13:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
25/10 – 11:30 to 16:30 – Race
=> 11:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 13:05 – Race
=> 15:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 16:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
23/10 – 16:45 to 17:15 – The Story so Far
25/10 – 16:30 to 17:30 – Race to Perfection
28/10 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
25/10 – 13:00 to 15:20 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Teruel (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
23/10 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
23/10 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
24/10 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
25/10 – 07:45 to 15:00
=> 07:45 – Warm Ups
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:30 – MotoGP
=> 13:15 – Moto2
=> 14:30 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Teruel< (Quest)
26/10 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

24 Hours of Spa (Sky Sports F1)
Also airs live on YouTube
24/10 and 25/10 – Race
=> 15:30 to 20:00
=> 21:30 BST [Saturday] to 11:30 GMT [Sunday]

British Touring Car Championship – Snetterton (ITV4)
25/10 – 10:05 to 16:55 – Races

IndyCar Series – St Petersburg (Sky Sports F1)
24/10 – 20:00 to 21:30 – Qualifying
25/10 – 18:30 to 20:30 – Race

If details change, this article will be updated.

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Scheduling: The 2020 Eifel Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns to the Nürburgring for the first time in seven years this weekend, for the inaugural Eifel Grand Prix!

Live coverage of the race weekend airs on Sky Sports with Ted Kravitz and Simon Lazenby re-joining the team. It is unclear if Martin Brundle is also back with the line-up as of writing.

Elsewhere, with Triumph’s visitor experience centre in Hinkley reopening to the public, BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage is moving.

The crew are relocating to the BT Tower in central London for the remainder of 2020.

The main races for F1 and MotoGP this weekend both begin an hour earlier. F1’s change is driven by the earlier sunset times as the European season concludes later than usual, dictating a change for MotoGP to avoid a head to head clash.

Channel 4 F1
10/10 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
11/10 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
09/10 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
09/10 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
10/10 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
10/10 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying
11/10 – 11:30 to 16:30 – Race
=> 11:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 13:05 – Race
=> 15:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 16:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
09/10 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
09/10 – 17:00 to 18:30 – F1 Pro Series Draft
10/10 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Race to Perfection
14/10 – 19:30 to 21:00 – F1 Pro Series Race 1 and 2
14/10 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief
15/10 – 19:30 to 21:00 – F1 Pro Series Race 3

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
09/10 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09/10 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
10/10 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11/10 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – France (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
09/10 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
09/10 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
10/10 – 08:00 to 16:00
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE
11/10 – 07:45 to 15:00
=> 07:45 – Warm Ups
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:30 – MotoGP
=> 13:15 – Moto2
=> 14:30 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – France (Quest)
12/10 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

British Touring Car Championship – Croft (ITV4)
11/10 – 11:30 to 18:05 – Races

World Rally Championship – Italy (All Live)
Also airs live on WRC+ (£)
09/10 – 06:45 to 16:45 – Stages 1 to 6 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 06:50 – Stage 1
=> 07:44 – Stage 2
=> 09:40 – Stage 3
=> 10:34 – Stage 4
=> 15:14 – Stage 5
=> 15:59 – Stage 6
10/10 – 06:00 to 17:45 – Stages 7 to 12 (BT Sport Extra 3)
=> 06:38 – Stage 7
=> 07:30 – Stage 8
=> 09:07 – Stage 9
=> 10:00 – Stage 10
=> 15:00 – Stage 11
=> 16:02 – Stage 12
11/10 – 06:15 to 12:45 – Stages 13 to 16 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 07:15 – Stage 13
=> 08:00 – Stage 14
=> 10:10 – Stage 15
=> 11:00 – Stage 16

World Rally Championship – Italy
10/10 – 00:30 to 01:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
10/10 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Stage 8 (BT Sport 3)
10/10 – 10:00 to 11:00 – Stage 10 (BT Sport 3)
10/10 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Stage 11 (BT Sport 3)
11/10 – 02:00 to 02:30 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
11/10 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Stage 14 (BT Sport 1)
11/10 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 16 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 1)
11/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
TBA – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Slovakia (Eurosport)
11/10 – 07:55 to 12:00 – Race 1
11/10 – 11:30 to 12:30 – Race 2

This article will be updated if schedules change.

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The catalyst for change?

Last weekend, Karun Chandhok returned to the Formula 1 commentary box, partnering David Croft for the Russian Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1.

Fans enjoyed the partnership, the first time the two had worked together for the race itself since 2011.

Should Sky take the praise for Chandhok as an opportunity to review their commentary options ahead of the 2021 season? Motorsport Broadcasting investigates…

Learning from Sky’s football offering
Since Sky started covering F1 in 2012, the broadcaster has stuck with the same tried and tested commentary line-up.

Sky’s current lead commentator David Croft started his F1 commentary duties in 2006, commentating for BBC Radio 5 Live for six seasons, before making his move over to Sky.

Joining Croft in the box is a man who needs no introduction. Next year will mark Martin Brundle’s 25th season in the commentary box, having commentated for ITV, BBC and now Sky.

In recent seasons, Brundle has stood away from the booth at a handful of races, with Paul di Resta substituting him.

The exception was this past weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, where it was Karun Chandhok who replaced Brundle. Fans universally praised Chandhok’s appearance, arguably more so than di Resta’s stand-in efforts, through no fault of di Resta’s own.

Nevertheless, once all the statistics add up, across Sky’s nine seasons covering F1, the broadcaster has only utilised four commentators on race day: Croft, Brundle, Chandhok and di Resta.

Sky have used other voices, such as Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button to provide additional analysis, but not in a formal co-commentator capacity on race day.

Compare the above to Sky’s coverage of the football Premier League.

During their Premier League offering last season, Sky used seven lead commentators, with eleven co-commentators.

Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne, and Bill Leslie featured most in the lead role, with Alan Smith, Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, and Andy Hinchcliffe commonly alongside them.

Compare the (at least) 12 different commentary ‘options’ on their Premier League coverage with just the 2 different ‘options’ last season for Formula 1, and only one lead.

I accept that there are far more football games than F1 races aired live on TV, and COVID-19 skews this fact further, however it also shows the breadth and depth across Sky’s Premier League operation. No Martin Tyler? No problem.

Tyler and Neville, Sky’s main Premier League combination, are both fantastic at what they do.

The former is synonymous with Sky’s offering since the league began in 1992, whilst Neville has forged a strong broadcasting career since his retirement from the game in 2011.

Although a great commentary team, hearing Martin Tyler and Gary Neville together on the majority of Premier League covered by Sky would become painstakingly dull (ignoring the logistical hurdles that prevents this).

Eventually, hearing them on most games would dilute the quality of their commentary, they would run out of interesting comments to make, they would revert to banter and ‘small talk’, all whilst reducing the amount of variety on offer.

Some of that sound familiar?

Brundle is a great commentator…
Before I move further, this is not a piece calling for Sky to get rid of either David Croft or Martin Brundle, far from it, because both are great commentators.

As mentioned earlier, Brundle has been in the F1 commentary hot-seat since 1997, working alongside Murray Walker, James Allen, Jonathan Legard, David Coulthard, and now Croft.

Brundle’s grid-walks (before COVID-19) are still worth watching, whilst his commentary and analytical viewpoints are second to none, offering a perspective no one else can.

> Flashback to 2016: Davidson and Brundle highlight strengths and weaknesses in Sky’s F1 team
> Flashback to 2019: Button stands out as Sky celebrates their 150th F1 race

However, Brundle retired from Formula 1 racing at the end of 1996, and has no wheel-to-wheel experience in the current generation of F1 machinery, outside of demonstrations for Sky’s vignettes; unlike Sky’s other F1 analysts Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and (to a lesser degree) di Resta. Two of them are World Champions!

Is Brundle therefore as relevant to current F1 in 2020? For the actual pre- and post-race punditry, it matters very little, but for the mechanics and the machinery involved, more so. Does it matter?

Compare F1 to football, whereby Neville and Carragher retired in 2011 and 2013 respectively, with Smith and Hinchcliffe retiring in 1995 and 2002. Only Smith sits comparably alongside Brundle.

If you are reading this and think “you can’t possibly compare F1 and football” given the respective talent pools available, I would counter argue to say that Sky do have recent F1 experience available within their own pool (as highlighted above) who may offer a new view on the different phases of the Grand Prix.

They just choose (through necessity or otherwise), not to utilise them in the formal co-commentary role alongside Croft. Yes, they bring in other voices from time to time to comment on the racing, but not in a formal capacity.

The point being that, in my view, Sky rely too heavily on Brundle in the commentary box, and need to review his commentary commitments in the years ahead.

Chandhok showed in Russia that having an alternative perspective on commentary can only be a good thing.

A rotating co-commentator chair would keep the show fresh; it gives others an opportunity, and may also bring in new, or lapsed, F1 viewers who may not have previously watched the sport on Sky.

…as is Croft
David Croft is also a great commentator.

Fans remember with fondness his commentary stint with Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 Live, for good reason because the team, with Holly Samos in pit lane as well, was a great trio.

His commentary with Brundle has also been great, and when there is a great F1 race, you can guarantee the two of them together will excel.

To the contrary, at times the commentary feels overproduced, and sound-bite-like in nature. Do not treat every DRS overtake the same in terms of volume. In addition, to compare Sky’s football offering to F1, the latter features more ‘banter’ in commentary than the former.

Whether this is the fault of Croft, or whether it is general editorial direction at Sky, I do not know. Maybe it is natural that, after 10 races in three months, talking points will dry up.

> Flashback to 2018: In conversation with David Croft

Or maybe, with 20 of the best drivers’ in the world on the grid, the commentators of the day should be able to discuss the driver in focus – their past, present and future, without heading towards a cliched sentence (for the record, Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul does not yet have a tattoo).

Do not underestimate though just how difficult sports commentary really is.

In the same vein that Tyler does not lead on every Premier League game for Sky, the same statement should apply to Croft’s F1 commitments. Less is more.

So should Croft, and Channel 4’s Ben Edwards, and whoever else, step aside for a handful of races each season? But…

Addressing a wider problem for a second: there are a lack of opportunities for motor sport commentators generally wanting to break through. Efficiency savings in recent years have reduced opportunities in the industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic will exasperate this issue.

The more broadcasters that take the World Feed of the sport they are covering (i.e. many territories taking Sky’s F1 offering), the fewer opportunities there are for younger personalities, although initiatives such as Formula E’s Talent Call as well as the rise of Esports will help.

One person making a more than decent impression is Alex Jacques.

After a shaky start succeeding Will Buxton as F1’s feeder series commentator, Jacques has quickly become a fan favourite, thanks to his partnership alongside the likes of Alex Brundle and Davide Valsecchi.

Whilst lead Formula Two commentator, Jacques has commentated on Charles Leclerc’s meteoric rise, also handling the tragic death of Anthoine Hubert with compassion, calmness, and gravitas.

It is easy to forget that Jacques is already in his sixth season covering Formula Two and Formula Three (then GP2 and GP3). More recently, Jacques has led F1’s Pit Lane Channel feed, putting him an excellent position to take on the World Feed duties, if such as opportunity presented itself.

Should Jacques therefore lead commentate on the World Feed, and by de facto be part of Sky’s F1 coverage, at a select few races next season?

In my view, yes.

Some reading this will consider the move a demotion for Croft, but as referenced, it is not radically different to Tyler, Hawthorne, and Leslie all lead commentating on Sky’s football coverage.

Or, to look at another sport, golf, it is no different to Ewen Murray and Nick Dougherty sharing lead commentary duties for Sky, as they currently do.

Why is motor sport considered different bearing in mind the amount of travel required each season?

What might 2021 look like?
No one really knows what next year will look for F1, but Sky need to start preparing for the future.

Based off the 2019 calendar, and considering who was on-site from Sky’s existing portfolio at that time, here is what a proposed system could look like:

Race Date Was… Proposed…
Australia 17/03 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Bahrain 31/03 Croft and Brundle Croft and Rosberg
China 14/04 Croft and Brundle Jacques and Brundle
Azerbaijan 28/04 Croft and di Resta Croft and di Resta
Spain 12/05 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Monaco 26/05 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Canada 09/06 Croft and Brundle Jacques and Button
France 23/06 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Austria 30/06 Croft and Brundle Croft and Chandhok
Britain 14/07 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Germany 28/07 Croft and Brundle Jacques and Brundle
Hungary 04/08 Croft and Brundle Croft and Davidson
Belgian 01/09 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Italy 08/09 Croft and Brundle Croft and Rosberg
Singapore 22/09 Croft and Brundle Jacques and Brundle
Russia 29/09 Croft and di Resta Croft and di Resta
Japan 13/10 Croft and di Resta Jacques and Hill
Mexico 27/10 Croft and Brundle Croft and Button
USA 03/11 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
Brazil 17/11 Croft and Brundle Jacques and Brundle
Abu Dhabi 01/12 Croft and Brundle Croft and Brundle
21 x Croft 15 x Croft
18 x Brundle 12 x Brundle
3 x di Resta 6 x Jacques
2 x Button
2 x di Resta
2 x Rosberg
1 x Chandhok
1 x Davidson
1 x Hill

Brundle and Croft would remain Sky’s main commentary pairing, but instead of teaming up for 18 rounds, they would team up for eight of the 21 rounds, with a much more even spread across the current Sky F1 team. The two would remain together for F1’s biggest races: the season opener in Australia, Monaco and Britain.

In addition, the inclusion of Alex Jacques for six race weekends (when Formula Two is not racing), adds a layer of variety to the line-up, increasing the amount of potential combinations for Sky.

Brundle would commentate on 12 events, four of these alongside Jacques. The likes of Button, Rosberg, Davidson, and Hill also get a run out in the commentary box for a full race.

The fact that Davidson and Croft have only worked on one race together for Sky (Hungary 2017) is bewildering considering the two worked together for three years on BBC Radio 5 Live.

If you like variety, you will like this approach, but if you like hearing consistency, then you may not be fond to hearing a different voice in the box each week.

Is having the same commentary team for the full season the right approach when (prior to COVID-19), the F1 calendar is expanding? F1 themselves have rotated their in-house commentary team during the COVID affected season, with a wealth of faces joining Jacques on commentary.

The point of these changes would be so that, when we do get Brundle and Croft in commentary, they are both at their best, and neither is running through the motions, as has appeared the case at several stages this year.

By being away from the box, it gives both an opportunity to refresh, taking the time to bring in new insightful information from elsewhere. And best of all, they would remain part of the line-up for at least the next five to ten years with a streamlined schedule, essentially extending their stay.

This should not be a contentious change, given it would bring Formula 1 in-line with the Sky’s other major sports, and future proof the team.

However, we must also remember that countries take Sky’s F1 coverage in all areas of the globe, so Sky are unlikely to make any rash decisions without full consideration.

More variety can only be positive, in my view, inside and outside of the commentary box, across the spectrum.

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