The new Formula One season is tantalisingly close. Throughout the winter the engineers and designers have been beavering away to prepare their challengers for 2023, while it appears from social media the drivers are mostly relaxing with family and friends. Publicity hungry Haas F1 will be unveiling their new car first in less than a week with Alpine set to be last on February 15th.
However, its not just the teams who are preparing their line up for the coming year, but the media companies too. Sky F1 have announced that Johnny Herbert and Paul di Resta will be leaving their presentation team for the upcoming season.
Herbert ditched by Sky F1
Herbert has been part of the Sky F1 landscape on and off for a decade and the news of his departure was first broken by the British ex-F1 race winner himself. Johnny posted on instagram a picture of himself and the full Sky F1 presentation crew saying, “Going to miss this team.”
Speaking to Last Lap Lucy Herbert went into detail as to his plans for 2023. “I’m not with Sky this year, unfortunately, but there are other things I’ll be getting involved with.”
“I’ll be at Silverstone for sure and the Monaco Grand Prix. I’m hoping to get to Le Mans as well this year, because that’s going to be a big event this time around.”
Le Mans top line category spectacular this year
The top line racing category at Le Mans this year has a record number of entries and has created a real stir in the sportswear racing world.
“I’m doing a bit of karting – not racing, just testing. My son-in-law wants me to race but I don’t really want to, but you’ll probably see me on a go-kart track near you. I’ve got various things going on. I’m enjoying things on the track and also life off the track as well.”
A spokesperson for Sky said, “Johnny has been an integral part of our Formula 1 team since the very first season on Sky Sports in 2012,”
“We will miss his humour and big personality and thank him for his energy and enthusiasm over the last 11 years. Everyone wishes him all the best for the future.”
Herbert played the clown well
For some F1 fans Herbert has never been embraced as a presenter. Despite repeated attempts at improving his on screen style, Herbert repeatedly merely restates the question and/or gives the obvious reply that even a layperson could provide rather than expert inside knowledge.
Herbert did a number of ‘fun’ pre show features with drivers such as racing ice cream vans and three wheel cars which some of the Sky F1 audience found endearing.
Di Resta on the other hand will be sorely missed. The Scott may return in future seasons because the reason he is leaving the Sky F1 team is because his racing calendar is rammed packed with WEC events and Le Mans Europe races towards the end of the F1 calendar.
No additions to the Sky F1 team
Sky F1 confirm neither Herbert or Di Resta will be replaced and that the presentation team is:
Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Naomi Schiff, Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, Karun Chandhok, Anthony Davidson, Natalie Pinkham, Ted Kravitz, Danica Patrick, Simon Lazenby, David Croft and Rachel Brookes.
There’s a question mark over whether Nico Rosberg will once again be allowed back into the paddock to resume his Sky F1 presentation.
Rosberg was banned from the paddock for 2022 following the FIA regulations that only vaccinated personnel were allowed inside.
Rosberg refused Covid vaccine and was banned from paddock
A spokesperson protested on Nico’s behalf, “Nico Rosberg recovered from a coronavirus infection and currently holds a recovery certificate.
“He has his antibody levels tested regularly and, on the recommendation of his doctor, does not currently need any vaccinations.
“In addition, he continues to comply with all necessary hygiene and precautionary measures. He continues to fulfil his duties as a commentator for Sky.”
Sky F1 kept Rosberg ban a secret
The ban was kept a relative secret by Sky F1 and Rosberg as he appeared only once in the media channel’s coverage before the race at his home in Monaco. Nico appeared remotely for the Emilia Romagna on a video link for each of the on track sessions then was filming for Sky F1 just metres from the paddock on the dockside when F1 arrived in the principality in May.
Of course Monaco is unique and at almost all the other F1 events the media companies film from inside the circuit where the rules of entry are controlled by F1 and the FIA. Whilst Rosberg was part of Sky’s presentation team throughout the year, it was by video hookup with the exception of Monaco and it was only in June when the story of Nic’s ban broke in the British media.
Sky F1 were hijacked somewhat by the FIA’s Covid cavvination regulations for 2022 and so were forced to use Nico Rosberg only by the less than ideal video hookup.
For 2023 the FIA’s vaccine mandate has been lifted so Rosberg will be able to rejoin the team as in previous years.
Naomi Schiff must step up
Naomi Schiff is a black Rwandan-Belgian professional racing and stunt driver who appeared in the W Series before being appointed as their Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador. She joined Sky F1 in 2022 will again be under the microscope as she hopefully develops her presentation style. It would appear Naomi is part of a diversity push by Sky F1 as part of the wider FIA led diversity programme.
Yet Schiff must step up to the plate in 2023 and hopefully her somewhat clipped and mechanical style will relax as she continues to develop her knowledge and skill as a TV presenter. Formula One’s push for diversity is to be applauded, but if it becomes tokenism then it harms the very cause it is intended to help.