High Hopes for Sky F1

12 Jan

The change in broadcasting rights in the UK has been the most controversial topic of conversation for British Formula 1 fans over the last six months. In the twitter communities that I dwell in, there has understandably been anger about the change. It has been difficult to be too excited publicly about Sky gaining the rights because I wanted to be sensitive to those who are not in a position to get the Sky channel. I know that I’m very fortunate to be able to have Sky. Now that the dust has settled and a new season approaches I feel comfortable in writing down what I’m looking forward to most about Sky F1 and my hopes for how they handle live action before and after the races.

What I’m looking forward to

There’s a range of fairly predictable things that I’m looking forward to – every race live, being able to record each of the practice sessions and watch them at my leisure, as well as the additional coverage available on the dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel.

The presenting team is seriously impressive – Sky have successfully poached the cream of the BBC presenting team crop and coupled it with the experience of two of their own big names, Simon Lazenby and Georgie Thompson.

The Sky Sports F1 Team

Before and after the race

I have no doubt that Martin Brundle and David Croft will provide an excellent commentary over the footage provided to them by FOM – this is the easy bit. Likewise it almost goes without saying that Ted Kravitz and Natalie Pinkham will continue to do a brilliant job of reporting in the pit-lane during the race. Sky provide slick presentation so there are no worries there either, and If I’m really lucky none of the presenting team will be Norwich City FC supporters 😉

The challenge for Sky lies elsewhere in how they manage the race build-up and post-race analysis. For me these are as important as the coverage as the race itself. Some aspects will be easy to deliver – For example, Martin Brundle will be continuing to do his grid-walks and will be joining in with the rest of the coverage when he’s not in the commentary box.

We have frequently seen on the BBC coverage that it can be tough to get hold of drivers and team principals/directors for interviews before and after races – the real low point was when Jake Humphrey & co resorted to talking to Rick Astley in Singapore while hanging around waiting for Martin Whitmarsh. With an extra broadcaster in the paddock (particularly one keen to make its mark while its rival fights hard to provide decent coverage), demand for driver interview time after the race will be even higher.

Driver interview time is limited after the race, and access to drivers is at the discretion of their Press Officer and the team. There is no obligation on them to provide equal time to Sky and the BBC (or any other broadcaster). It is inevitable that each broadcaster will be desperate to speak to the drivers of the day, so there is a risk of more procrastination while waiting for them to become available. I suspect the only member of the Sky team brave enough to ‘do an Eddie’ and drag a driver away from whatever they’re doing will be Martin Brundle.

Additional hanging around would, of course, provide additional time for presenting teams to talk to mid-field drivers, but I am reliably informed that this is not how it tends to work. For me, the BBC spent far too much time talking to Red Bull and McLaren after the races, when there had been plenty of interesting action going on in the mid-field. How many times did Heikki Kovalainen do a stirling job battling up to the middle of the pack, and how many times did we hear from him afterwards? I only really recall the Brazilian GP forum interview with Heikki, Tony Fernandes & Mike Gascoyne (thank goodness that happened before the power cut).

Will Sky make the effort to interview a broader spectrum of drivers after the race? Or will they procrastinate or cut to more advert breaks?

This is the feature I will be judging them on during the 2012 season.

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2 Responses to “High Hopes for Sky F1”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sky Sports F1 – The verdict so far | schuvettelainen - June 26, 2012

    […] the start of the season I wrote an article on the high hopes that I had for Sky Sports F1, and now that we’re eight races in to the […]

  2. Sky Sports F1 – The verdict so far | F1PODCAST.CO.UK - June 29, 2012

    […] the start of the season I wrote an article on the high hopes that I had for Sky SportsF1, and now that we’re eight races in to the season […]

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