With car launches at the end of this month, and winter testing just four weeks away, the 2013 Formula One season is already nearly upon us – here is how it is shaping up so far! While so many other things are changing in the sport, there will be at least one constant and that is that Sky Sports F1 will once again exclusively be broadcasting all races live. After securing the services of top pundits and commentators in 2012, such as Martin Brundle, Ted Kravitz, and Damon Hill, Sky Sports F1 will return for 2013 with the same line-up. But how did they get on in their first year?
‘Overall it was very good’
On Twitter I asked what people had thought of Sky Sports F1’s first season of coverage, and the feedback was generally positive. After their shaky start in Australia, where pre Free Practice coverage was far too long and was interrupted by ad breaks and interviews, it has been onwards and upwards for the broadcasters. Having to essentially take over from BBC F1, who do still broadcast the Formula One, but had been the sole broadcaster in the UK, was not any mean feat. BBC had been much acclaimed and their coverage is loved by many so Sky Sports F1 had a tough act to follow.
After the deal was announced way back at the Hungarian GP in 2011, there was much speculation about who would move to Sky from BBC, and would they bring in any new presenters.
Main anchor Simon Lazenby has been with Sky Sports since 1998 and has covered cricket and rugby, along with fronting Sky Sports News. His reviews from fans were mixed – some dubbed him ‘fake Jake’ (in reference to BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey), others claimed he was lazy and did not seem to be interested in F1, and people even said he frowned too much. It wasn’t all negative, however, as others found him interested and engaging, and said they enjoyed watching him more than they had Jake.
Georgie Thompson, another seasoned Sky Sports presenter, joined Simon Lazenby on presenting duties, taking the reigns during Free Practice on a Saturday while also fronting The F1 Show with Ted Kravitz (more later). She often accompanied Anthony Davidson in analysing coverage via the SkyPad, however, she did not overly impress some fans. She was described as being ‘useless’, ‘pointless’ and ‘boring’, and fans added that she brought nothing to the show.
Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill, and Allan McNish were brought in an expert pundits to work alongside Simon Lazenby. Fans thought they were a great addition to the line-up, and only wish that Allan McNish had been used more. Others felt that they needed to relax more and that they did not seem to be enjoying the atmosphere, and rather the coverage at times seemed too corporate.
In the pit-lane Ted Kravitz and Natalie Pinkham were on hand to keep viewers up-to-date with what was going on. Both moved from the BBC to Sky for the 2012 season. Fans enjoyed Ted’s Notebook while others particularly singled him out as being a ‘plus point’ of the coverage and said his insight was ‘great’.
Up in commentary David Croft was joined by Anthony Davidson for practice and Martin Brundle for qualifying and the race. Fans said at times Crofty became TOO excitable. Martin Brundle was also singled out as a ‘plus point’ while others said he was great. Fans enjoyed Anthony Davidson’s insights and analysis.
The same team will return for 2013.
Viewers said they felt that Sky Sports F1 lacked the “zing” that BBC have, however this could be expected as it has been their first year of broadcasting. They felt that the coverage improved as the season progressed and they started to find their way. Some fans enjoyed the technical features, while others suggested that the coverage appeared very biased at times towards particular teams, but this always seems to be the case with broadcasting of Formula One.
People enjoyed The F1 Show and F1 Legends but felt the same stuff was repeated too much on the channel. There is only so many times you can watch Paul di Resta in a helicopter over Silverstone. Back to the main coverage and fans had mixed views about the SkyPad. Some loved it, some hated it. Others felt that it could be used better, or just ditched completely as at times there seemed to be too much “faffing around”. Fans felt the race build-up contained too much fluff and filler.
McLaren cartoon Tooned was broadcast on Sky and viewers were glad to see that Martin Brundle’s famous grid-walk remained.
Onwards and Upwards?
After a generally good start to their F1 broadcasting, it seems it is only onwards and upwards for Sky Sports F1 in 2013.
Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts. If you would like to share your views on the BBC F1 coverage get in touch via Twitter, Facebook, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.