They can take my football, my cricket, but Formula One? That is the last straw. Charlie Edwards has five ways Sky can get the best out of the world’s playboy sport.
So the news today is that Sky have bought the rights to broadcast every Formula One race from next season onwards, in a share deal with the BBC, who will show half of the races.
The Managing Director of Sky Sports Barney Francis was quoted in a BBC news item saying: “We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.” This scares the hell out of me. Here are my five pointers for Sky Sports when deciding how to get the best out of F1.
1.) The grid-walk, the pit lanes, Martin Brundle, The Chain… Formula One’s formulaic programme is a tradition that fans and one-off viewers love alike. It needs to strike the right balance between technical analysis and simplicity for newcomers. Don’t be afraid to pick the best bits from ITV and BBC coverage of years gone by. Some of it was quite good.
2.) Don’t be so biased towards British drivers. It just gets annoying after a while. Jenson’s career was such a slow rise because of the over-hype he received in his first two or three years. Lewis is spoilt, as this season’s interaction with the media is proving. If you want to have any kind of British bias, make sure it is towards Silverstone, the British Grand Prix and the designers and technicians that hail from the golden pocket of Northamptonshire which is where half the manufacturers on the grid call home.
3.) Pronounce Sebastien Vettel’s name right. It is VET-tel, not Vet-TEL. Just ask the drivers themselves, rather than make your own mind up.
4.) Show a little bit more of the fan experience. Camera angles buried inside the crowds, interaction with the fans, employ armchair experts, not just motorsport stalwarts.
5.) Choose the right commentators. Have more women involved. And not leather-wearing, hands-bigger-than-mine women, but funny, engaging, informed ladies. Don’t draft in old motorcycling commentators, it is a completely different sport. And please please please no Andy Gray. For the love of God not him.
It is, however, good news for the taxpayer. The Formula One contract was one of the most luxurious expenses for the Beeb. For Formula One fans, there is still access to the sport, at a dramatically reduced cost. It is a compromise that meets the best of both worlds. And any opportunity to reduce the amount of airtime the vacuous Jake Humphrey receives is a bonus.