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Sky mines BBC talent for Formula One presentation team

By
Martin Brundle

© PA Images

Sky has poached various members of BBC Formula One talent, including Martin Brundle and David Croft, for its own presentation team for the motorsport coverage next year.

The satellite pay-TV giant today confirmed the team of pundits, presenters and commentators to broadcast every session from all Grand Prix from 2012, as part of a controversial shared rights deal with the BBC.

As announced last month, the BBC's chief F1 commentator Martin Brundle will lead the commentary team for Sky, dividing his time between paddock, pitlane and commentary box on all race days.

Brundle will be joined by another ex BBC employee, David 'Crofty' Croft from BBC Radio 5 Live's F1 coverage team. Croft will be reunited with fellow 5 Live commentator and ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson for commentary duties for each race weekend's practice sessions.

"In Martin Brundle we have the outstanding F1 broadcaster - on the track and in broadcasting, he's proved it time and again," said Sky Sports executive producer Martin Turner.

"Working alongside him, David Croft is a passionate, experienced commentator and Anthony Davidson can bring great technical knowledge to live practice sessions."

Sky is launching the Sky Sports F1 channel next March to carry all its Formula One coverage, marking the satellite TV firm's first ever network purely dedicated to one sport.

Available in standard and high definition, Sky Sports F1 will cover all practice, qualifying and race sessions, along with various programmes related to the world's premium motorsport.

To further bolster the race coverage, Sky has hired the BBC's F1 technical expert Ted Kravitz to "scour the pitlane in search of the inside scoop on what's occurring". He will be joined by Natalie Pinkham, the former pitlane correspondent for Radio 5 Live's F1 coverage.

Kravitz will also co-present an F1 magazine show on Sky Sports F1, alongside Georgie Thompson.

Sky Sports presenter Simon Lazenby will host each Grand Prix weekend and Steve Rider, the former anchor of F1 coverage when ITV held the rights, will conduct a series of "big interviews" with racing legends of the past and present for Sky Sports.

"Ted Kravitz has huge knowledge of the pitlane and paddock and he and Natalie Pinkham will get the information and access our viewers need," said Turner.

"And 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 - they have trust and respect."

Viewers have reacted with anger at the deal for Sky and the BBC to share the rights to F1 coverage from 2012 to 2018, as it will result in just 10 races each season being available on free-to-air television via the BBC.

Negotiations for Sky Sports F1 with pay-TV firm Virgin Media are thought to be ongoing, but due to carriage technicalities it is thought unlikely that the channel will come to subscription-free platforms Freeview or Freesat.

The BBC, which announced its own F1 coverage plans last month, has stressed that all races it does not show will be covered in highlights packages, but that has done little to dampen the outrage from some viewers.

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