F1 Commentators: ESPN's Sky Sports commentary team for 2021

The 2021 Formula 1 season has started on ESPN in the United States, but who are the full commentary team and why is it supplied via Sky Sports F1 from the UK?

F1 Commentators: ESPN's Sky Sports commentary team for 2021

American F1 viewers can watch every race live on ESPN channels as part of a three-year exclusive deal signed in 2019, and will show all 23 scheduled races commercial-free from lights-out to checkered flag in 2021.

The races are broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC channels, with all practice sessions and qualifying – also shown live – moving around its channels (eg: in Bahrain, FP1 and FP2 were on ESPNU, FP2 and qualifying were on ESPN2). On-demand replays are available via ESPN's app, while ESPN Deportes is the exclusive Spanish-language home of F1 in the U.S..

ESPN took the rights away from previous broadcaster NBC Sports Network, which had the rights since 2013, after F1 announced plans to stream races on its own platform, F1 TV Pro. NBC had been willing to pay $40million for a seven-year contract, but the streaming issue proved to be a deal breaker as NBC was starting its own subscription platform, called Peacock.

F1's ‘over-the-top’ digital service allows fans in certain countries to stream races online. In the U.S. this costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per annum.

Unlike NBC, which employed its own U.S.-based commentary team of Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, ESPN relies on its commentary and punditry from UK-based Sky Sports F1.

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault F1 Team, is interviewed by Simon Lazenby, Sky TV, and Anthony Davidson, Sky TV, on Sky Sports F1

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault F1 Team, is interviewed by Simon Lazenby, Sky TV, and Anthony Davidson, Sky TV, on Sky Sports F1

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Sky Sports F1

Simon Lazenby

Sky Sports F1’s coverage has been fronted by Simon Lazenby since the channel’s creation in 2012. In that time only two grands prix have not been presented by Lazenby, with Natalie Pinkham leading coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix in 2020 and Rachel Brookes taking charge of the Russian Grand Prix a few weeks later.

David Croft

David Croft – often referred to as ‘Crofty’ – is Sky Sports F1’s lead commentator, having held the position since Sky began broadcasting F1 in 2012. Prior to that Croft had commentated on F1 races for BBC Radio 5 Live, and he has spent the best part of two decades commentating on darts, firstly for the BBC and more recently for Sky.

Croft’s voice has featured prominently in Codemasters' official F1 game since 2010.

Martin Brundle

Making his first start in 1984 for Tyrrell, Martin Brundle also raced for Zakspeed, Williams, Brabham, Benetton, Ligier, McLaren and Jordan in an F1 career that ended in 1996. Although he never won a race, he came close on a number of occasions, finishing second at the Italian Grand Prix in 1992 and at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1994 and scoring seven other podium finishes. In 1990 he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Jaguar, swapping cars mid-way through the race after his own had been forced to retire.

Brundle’s commentary career began alongside the late Murray Walker at ITV in 1997, later working with James Allen from 2002 onwards. Brundle moved to the BBC when it acquired the rights to F1 coverage in the UK in 2009, and became the lead commentator for the broadcaster two years later with David Coulthard stepping into the co-commentary role.

Brundle moved to Sky Sports F1 in 2012, where he has been a co-commentator alongside David Croft ever since. Brundle is known for his pre-race grid walks, in which he interviews drivers and team principals in the frantic few minutes before the lights go out.

Ted Kravitz

Ted Kravitz has worked in F1 for nearly 25 years, starting out as a producer for ITV in 1997. He then became a pitlane reporter in 2002, and fulfilled the same role for the BBC between 2009 and 2011.

Kravitz was one of Sky’s headline signings when the broadcaster began covering F1 in 2012, developing a large fanbase with his show Ted’s Notebook, in which he investigates and explains various technical aspects of F1.

Karun Chandhok

Karun Chandhok has developed a reputation as one of the most well-respected analysts working in F1, deriving his expertise from a varied racing career that included 11 grand prix starts in F1 between 2010 and 2011. Prior to F1 he raced in British F3, GP2, A1 Grand Prix and various other series, and has since competed in Formula E, the World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Chandhok has worked as a pitlane reporter for the BBC and Channel 4, moving to Sky Sports F1 in 2020. As well as contributing analysis, he commentated on the Russian Grand Prix that same season.

Johnny Herbert, Sky TV, interviews Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Johnny Herbert, Sky TV, interviews Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Johnny Herbert

Johnny Herbert’s F1 career began in 1989, the year after a crash in a Formula 3000 race at Brands Hatch had left him with permanent mobility issues that forced him to adapt his driving style. Despite being hindered by injury, Herbert won three grands prix – including a famous home victory at Silverstone in 1995 – having won the Le Mans 24 Hours outright with Mazda in 1991.

Herbert is a regular on Sky Sports F1, and often presents packages and features with drivers in the build-up to qualifying and races.

Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta is a British racing driver who won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 2004, later winning the DTM championship in 2010. He then spent three years in F1 with Force India and made a single appearance for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2017 after Felipe Massa fell ill prior to the race.

Di Resta has been a regular in the DTM since leaving F1, and has also competed in the World Endurance Championship for United Autosports. In 2020, the team earned a class victory in the LMP2 category at the Le Mans 24 Hours, with di Resta sharing driving duties with Filipe Albuquerque and Philip Hanson.

When his racing calendar allows, di Resta is a regular on Sky Sports F1 as an analyst, and has occasionally stood in for Martin Brundle in the commentary box.

Anthony Davidson

Anthony Davidson made two appearances for Minardi in F1 in 2002, but retired from both grands prix. After spending much of the next three seasons as a test driver, he secured a full-time drive with Super Aguri in 2007. However, he failed to score any points and early in 2008, the team pulled out of F1 due to financial difficulties.

Davidson has been far more successful away from F1, winning the World Endurance Championship with Toyota in 2014 and collecting 10 WEC victories across five full seasons racing in LMP1. The Briton joined the Sky Sports F1 team in 2012, and filled in for Paul di Resta in the commentary box when the Scot made his one-off appearance for Williams in Hungary in 2017.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, talks to Natalie Pinkham

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing, talks to Natalie Pinkham

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Natalie Pinkham

Natalie Pinkham joined Sky Sports F1 in 2012 as a pitlane reporter, having done so for BBC Radio 5 Live in 2011. In 2013 she became a host of The F1 Show, a role she has held ever since. Prior to F1, Pinkham’s broadcasting career saw her work at the Isle of Man TT and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with two years spent presenting for The Poker Channel. In 2009, she co-hosted the Goodwood Festival of Speed alongside fellow motorsport broadcaster Steve Rider.

Pinkham led Sky’s coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix in 2020.

Rachel Brookes

Rachel Brookes is a reporter for Sky Sports F1, conducting interviews with drivers and other key figures. She’s a host of The F1 Show, and she stepped in for Simon Lazenby as the main presenter for Sky’s coverage of the Russian Grand Prix in 2020.

Craig Slater

Craig Slater reports on F1 for Sky Sports News, with his interviews also featuring on Sky Sports F1’s coverage on race weekends.

 

Damon Hill

Son of two-time F1 world champion Graham Hill, Damon Hill followed in his father’s footsteps in 1996 when he won the world title with Williams. Statistically one of the most successful F1 drivers ever, Hill won 22 grands prix and was a podium finisher 42 times over eight seasons, before calling it a day at the end of the 1999 season.

Hill joined Sky Sports F1 in 2012 and has been a frequent presence in a punditry role ever since.

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg won the 2016 F1 world championship after a fraught title battle with Lewis Hamilton. He promptly retired from F1 a few days later, having accumulated 23 grand prix wins and 57 podiums in his time with Williams and Mercedes.

Rosberg has pursued a number of endeavors since retiring from F1, including as an owner of an Extreme E team. He first appeared on Sky Sports F1 as an analyst in 2018, and has also worked for broadcasters in Germany and Italy in a similar role.

Jenson Button

Jenson Button was at the centre of a fairytale story in 2009, when he became F1 world champion racing for Brawn GP; an outfit that was hastily formed at the beginning of the season when previous owner Honda announced its shock departure. Along with his world title, Button’s 15 wins and 50 podiums rank him as one of the most successful British F1 drivers in history, and he’s one of only five drivers to date to compete in more than 300 grands prix.

Like Rosberg, Button has developed a number of interests in life after F1, and he occasionally appears on Sky Sports F1. He made his debut for the broadcaster in 2018.

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