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.
If you enjoyed this article, consider contributing to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal. If you wish to reproduce the contents of this article in any form, please contact Motorsport Broadcasting in the first instance.