As said by David Coulthard last week on TalkSport, the 8th of march 2016, marked the day, when all would become clear, and who would be involved in Channel 4’s line up for this years Formula 1 coverage. And, would you believe it, there’s 13 of them.
I would like to point out that my predictions were almost exactly wrong, only getting Ben Edwards and Susie Wolff(ish) correct. I did include David Coulthard and Mark Webber, however i got those two the wrong way round. So without further ado, here is the line up for the 2016 season on Channel 4.
I will first look though all the people who will be present at all of the races.
Steve Jones (Presenter)
Steve Jones is a Welsh TV presenter. He is best known for presenting such things as ‘Lets Dance for Sport/Comic Relief’ and ‘The X Factor USA’. He has recently been presenting shows for Channel 4 including ‘Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose’, ‘Young, Free & Single: Live’, and two upcoming shows ‘Sex Box’ and ‘My Kitchen Rules: UK’. He will become the first Welshman to present F1, and it will be intriguing to see how he copes in Melbourne and bahrain as well as the rest of the 2016 season.
David Coulthard (Co-Presenter and Co-Commentator)
Judging from his new roles, you might as well call him David Co-ulthard. If you don’t know this man, you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years. 13 times a grand Prix winner, David Coulthard retired at the end of 2008, but has been part of the BBC’s coverage of F1 ever since. he has had 7 years as a pundit and 5 years of commentary to his name, so looks like a solid signing for Channel 4.
Ben Edwards (Lead Commentator)
Joining David in the commentary box is his commentary partner for the last 4 years, Ben Edwards. Since retiring from racing, Ben has found his name as a professional commentator, some naming him the “young Murray Walker”. He commentated on the British Touring Car Championship from 2002-2011 before he got his big break when he was signed to commentate for BBC F1. He has commentated on F1 before for F1 Digital+ and Eurosport.
Karun Chandhok (Pit Reporter and Technical Analyst)
Karun Chandhok may not have had the best F1 career in the world, half a season for Hispania in 2010 and a race for Team Lotus in 2011, but Karun is one of the most likable people in the paddock and his knowledge on Formula 1 is unbelievable, so he will be a great technical analyst while patrolling the pit lane this year.
Lee McKensie (Pit Reporter)
Lee McKensie continues her role from BBC over to Channel 4, she’ll be in the drivers pen and around the pit lane getting all the interviews and news she can, as she has since her days on BBC Radio 5Live. She will continue her 2016 BBC Sport roles for 2016, where she will present Wimbledon and the Olympics.
For 2016, Channel 4 have hired many Analysts/Pundits to take us though the season, which shall rotate during the season.
Thought by many as one of the greatest drivers not to win a Formula 1 championship, Mark Webber will join Channel 4 for the majority of races in 2016. He will definitely miss China, Europe, Italy and Singapore due to WEC commitments, however from the first impressions of his Abu Dhabi punditry, Mark looks like a great signing, for Channel 4.
In July 2014, Susie became the first woman to take part in an official Formula 1 session for 22 years. After a long career in DTM, and as development driver for Williams, in November 2015, Susie called it quits and hung up her helmet for a final time. With husband Toto running the Mercedes team, expect Susie to be at the majority of races in 2016 for Channel 4.
Now for the ‘Marmite character’. Eddie Jordan is loved and hated universally and in 2016 he joins over from the BBC to become a pundit for Channel 4. Fortunately, for the haters, he will not be there on a regular basis, mainly due to his BBC commitments doing the new Top Gear, but the drunk Irishman is back for another year.
Nic is Lewis’s brother, so lets hope there is only a little bias, if any at all. He was a pundit on Channel 4’s coverage of the Race of Champions last November alongside Charlie Webster.
Bruno Senna is the nephew of the late great Ayrton Senna. The likable and friendly Brazilian had a short career in Formula 1, driving a season for HRT in 2010, half a season in 2011 for Lotus Renault, and a year for Williams, a team that his uncle raced for until his tragic death. He now competes in the World endurance Championship and the FIA Formula E Championship, so I wouldn’t expect him around too often. Now for another familiar surname, one that this surname had quite a rival with.
Now this a massive coup for Channel 4. One of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, Monsieur Alain Prost (right) will feature in Channel 4’s coverage. However due to Formula E commitments, and also his commitments with French broadcaster Canal+, do not expect a huge input from the four times champion.
From one legend to another, the voice of Formula 1, Murray Walker (below) will also be part of Channel 4’s coverage. Murray, who commentated on F1 between 1970 and 2001, will be talking to the legends of the sport, and I think that he will have a more prominent role during the British Grand Prix, but having him on the team is brilliant.
Now this is a name which will be less familiar with the fans. Alex Zanardi was a Formula 1 driver between 1991-94. In 2001, he was involved in a crash that meant he had to have his legs amputated, and since has gone on to do well in the Paralympics, winning gold in the Men’s road time trial H4 at London 2012. I would imagine that he would not feature that much, but this is also good news for Channel 4, who are the Paralympic broadcasters, and the Paralympics head to Rio in the summer as well.
Overall, I think this line-up from Channel 4 is stunning, and I really think they are going to do well in 2016 and probably even better than Sky F1 even if they don’t have all the races live. However i think the change to Channel 4 is good, because I think it’ll mean that we start to see the return of F1 to FTA (Free-To-Air) fully sometime in the near future. We will just have to wait and see.
They also confirmed that there will be a ‘Speed with Guy Martin’ Special on Thursday 17th March at 21:00, and there will be a 5 minute trailer at the same time on the Friday.
The new season kicks off in under 2 weeks time, and all the action will be live on Sky Sports F1, with highlights on Channel 4 from 12:30 on Saturday 19th March.