The past week has been quiet with no news on Channel 4’s on-air Formula 1 team, meaning that the earliest we will know news is Monday 1st February.
To recap what we know so far:
In my last piece on the subject, I made the following comment: “Are Channel 4 and Whisper Films planning on doing something different with the lead presenter role?” The answer appears to be a resounding yes. Whilst I do not know who Channel 4 have chosen, this blog understands that there are four names on the broadcaster’s list and there is enough information in the public domain to draw conclusions about which of the four is most likely to front their coverage.
The first person in the running is Steve Jones. Jones has previously presented The X Factor USA along with BBC One entertainment shows such as 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow and Let’s Dance for Sport Relief. This year, Jones is set to present My Kitchen Rules: UK and the Sex Box series. Both of those will air on Channel 4. On one hand you could say that this makes Jones less likely to present Formula 1, but both shows are pre-recorded so can be filmed around Jones’ schedule. On Twitter, Jones has started following Jake Humphrey. More intriguingly, Jones is now following Marc Priestley. Priestley and Humphrey are now following Jones back. Does this mean that both Jones and Priestley are part of Channel 4’s team?
A separate train of thought is that Channel 4 want one of their Paralympics presenters to lead the channel’s Formula 1 coverage in order to develop on-air talent with physical disabilities, as has been mooted over on Digital Spy. The most likely person in my opinion is Jordan Jarrett-Bryan. Jarrett-Bryan is currently sports reporter for Channel 4 News, which makes him an ideal candidate and probably high on Channel 4’s list. Unfortunately, no ‘Twitter evidence’, as I like to call it. One possibility is that Channel 4 could send him their Formula 1 reporter for the news team.
When the BBC and ITV released their Six Nations talent line-ups, one name was missing from ITV’s portfolio. That name is Craig Doyle. Doyle has presented BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage from the middle of 2014 following the swift departure of Melanie Sykes. Assuming Doyle was Channel 4’s number one choice, they would need to get him out of his BT contract first and need to find a replacement for their MotoGP and rugby coverage: it would seem unfeasible, but not impossible, for Doyle to present Channel 4’s F1 coverage and MotoGP on BT Sport.
Lastly, we have Rick Edwards, who in the past few days has started following both Whisper Films and David Coulthard on Twitter. Edwards, like Jarrett-Bryan, is part of Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage, meaning that Channel 4 should not need to do much negotiation to get Edwards on board. There was also Andy Jaye, but I am not as convinced that Jaye will get the role as I once was. Edwards primarily works for Channel 4, whereas Jaye works for other broadcasters as well which makes Edwards a more likely person to get the lead presenter role.
It appears that Channel 4’s Formula 1 presenter will be one of the five names above. It certainly will not be a familiar face to Formula 1 viewers. Given that it is February on Monday, we will know the identity sooner rather than later…
Update on January 30th – Rick Edwards on Twitter: “I would love to have done it but won’t be!” All signs appear to point towards Jones becoming Channel 4’s F1 presenter. I’ll update as and when I hear more.
Update on February 3rd – As reported above, it looks like Steve Jones has been chosen to lead Channel 4’s coverage. At 11:49, Murray in the comments noted that Jones had followed a lot of Formula 1 related accounts. I had a look and could see that Jones had followed every team and driver on the grid – including Red Bull Racing, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Within two hours of me then tweeting it, Jones had unfollowed the F1 people he had followed. The exceptions were David Coulthard and Lee McKenzie… unsurprisingly a Channel 4 spokesperson declined to comment when asked by Digital Spy.