7 December 2011
Sky Sports has finally unveiled the on-air talent that will carry its inaugural season of F1 coverage - and many of the names will already be well-known to fans.
Sky Sports much-hyped arrival into the world of F1 broadcasting will rely heavily on the on-air talent that helped make the rival BBC channel's programming such a success in recent years.
The digital and satellite broadcaster finally announced its line-up for the 2012 season and, in addition to the already confirmed Martin Brundle, unveiled BBC Radio 5Live pairing David Croft and Anthony Davidson, as well as pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham, while Brundle's TV colleague Ted Kravitz will also switch sides. The BBC will retain the services of anchorman Jake Humphrey - who has made no secret of his desire to be involved in the channel's Olympic programming - as well as analyst David Coulthard and pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie. No announcement has been made regarding the ongoing involvement of Eddie Jordan although, having not been unveiled as part of the Sky Sports team, it is conceivable that the Irishman will return alongside Humphrey and Coulthard next year.
After weeks of speculation, Sky has finally confirmed that the experienced Croft will join forces with Brundle in the commentary box for each of next season's races, with Brundle reverting to more of an analyst role and dividing his time between paddock, pit-lane and commentary box. That role means that Davidson - like Brundle, another former F1 driver - will be reunited with Croft for commentary duties for each of the weekend's practice sessions.
"In Martin Brundle, we have the outstanding F1 broadcaster - on the track and in broadcasting," commented Sky Sports executive producer Martin Turner, "He's proved it time and again and, working alongside him, David Croft is a passionate, experienced commentator, [while] Anthony Davidson can bring great technical knowledge to live practice sessions."
Both Pinkham and Kravitz will scour the pit-lane in search of the inside story on what's occurring on track, with Kravitz also co-presenting the magazine show that Sky Sports has revealed as part of the package that warrants an entire channel devoted to F1. His co-presenter will be Georgie Thompson, a familiar face to viewers of Sky Sports News as well as the former anchor on the channel's A1GP coverage. Another familiar face to Sky Sports viewers, Simon Lazenby will host each grand prix weekend.
Jenson Button's appearance on stage at Sunday's Autosport Awards helped reveal that broadcasting veteran - and former ITV F1 anchor - Steve Rider will also be a part of the team, but not in the anchor role that many expected, Instead, Rider - who was replaced as the face of ITV F1 by Jim Rosenthal - will stage a series of interviews with racing legends of past and present.
"Ted Kravitz has huge knowledge of the pit-lane and paddock, and he and Natalie Pinkham will get the information and access our viewers need," Turner added, "Guiding us through the coverage, we have the experience of Simon Lazenby and Georgie Thompson. Each has hosted major sports events, from the British Lions to the Ryder Cup, [so] they have trust and respect."
Sky Sports will broadcast every round of the 2012 F1 world championship live, while the BBC, which could not afford to continue as sole provider of UK F1 coverage, will have ten selected events on its menu.
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