Webber, Wolff and Chandhok set to feature in Channel 4’s F1 line-up

Mark Webber, Susie Wolff and Karun Chandhok are all set to feature in Channel 4’s Formula 1 line-up for the 2016 season.

The word on the ground
Channel 4 and Whisper Films have only officially announced one person so far, that being David Coulthard. The remaining announcements, along with coverage plans, are set to come at this coming Tuesday.

As reported multiple times over the past month on this site, Steve Jones will be presenting Channel 4’s coverage. Jones is currently in Barcelona for the second week of testing preparing for the start of the season and has already conducted interviews with the likes of Nico Rosberg. Coulthard will be alongside Jones and also up in the commentary box with Ben Edwards, the two moving straight across from their BBC F1 partnership. In the pit lane will be Karun Chandhok. Chandhok is also out in Barcelona, with AUTOSPORT. This blog learnt yesterday that Chandhok will be Channel 4’s pit lane reporter, something that has been supported in F1 Racing’s season preview magazine.

Chandhok will not be the only person in the pit lane for Channel 4 as Lee McKenzie will also be reporting from track side. McKenzie was first reported by James Allen’s website a few weeks ago. It is great that McKenzie will be continuing to cover Formula 1, although it is assumed McKenzie will not be at every race due to her BBC duties this year covering Wimbledon and the Olympic Games (the latter does not clash with the F1, but will require some preparation).

On the punditry side of things, according to The Guardian, Mark Webber and Susie Wolff will be part of Channel 4’s team. Speaking to The Guardian, David Coulthard said “We’ll have a professional presenter. Then we’ll have a mix of diverse people, some of whom will be recognisable to the masses, some will not. We will have a range of different views. The full team will be announced next week, but as a fan of motorsport, which is what I am, I am excited by some of the people we have coming in.” If true, Webber is a fantastic signing. Watching the BBC’s final Grand Prix broadcast last season, you got the impression that Webber was auditioning for a role somewhere which I commented on at the time.

The signing of Wolff will surprise people. I’m not too surprised. From an anecdotal perspective, I predicted this in my series of posts over Christmas, plus she rated highly in the site survey that followed. Coulthard’s comment to The Guardian implies to me that the analysts will be rotated across the season in an effort to keep the output fresh. This is where the likes of Alain Prost are likely to come in. Whether Eddie Jordan fits into this category too, I don’t know.

The 5 Live conundrum
As referenced on Tuesday, Jack Nicholls will be BBC Radio 5 Live’s lead commentator. This blog understands that Nicholls is set to be announced as covering the role full-time. Note the phrase “full-time”. The problem is that there are clashes between the Formula 1 and Formula E calendar. Specifically, the Long Beach ePrix clashes with the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend and more notably the season finale in London clashes with the Austrian Grand Prix.

As of writing, Nicholls is not scheduled to be commentating on the Long Beach ePrix on Saturday 2nd April. Instead, Nicholls will be with the 5 Live team in Bahrain. The question you have to ask is whether it is feasible to have the lead Formula E commentator also commentating on Formula 1 full-time going forward. I don’t know the answer to that, but there are people high-up within the paddock bound to be unhappy that the same voice is commentating on both Formula 1 and Formula E…

Alongside Nicholls are understood to be Tom ClarksonJennie Gow (already confirmed) and Allan McNish. As with all these things, we don’t know whether anyone was offered a Channel 4 role and rejected said role, or have been offered other avenues to pursue within the BBC.

Update on March 3rd at 19:20 – Nicholls has confirmed his 5 Live role on his Twitter account. Obviously this also means that, as reported previously, James Allen will not be part of 5 Live’s output this year.

Update on March 3rd at 20:20 – Mark Gallagher has confirmed that himself and Clarkson will be part of the 5 Live preview show tonight. I’ve updated the various pages on this site to reflect the confirmation. Not sure about the status of McNish at the moment.

Update on March 3rd at 21:40 – Jennie Gow has confirmed on the 5 Live preview show that Allan McNish will be alongside Nicholls in the BBC 5 Live commentary box for the 2016 season. So, the confirmed 5 Live team is Nicholls, McNish, Clarkson, Gow and Gallagher.

Update on March 4th at 13:35 – Chandhok is confirmed! He interviewed Lewis Hamilton during the lunch break in Barcelona, conveniently holding a Channel 4 microphone.

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17 thoughts on “Webber, Wolff and Chandhok set to feature in Channel 4’s F1 line-up

  1. Would people be that unhappy if Nichols was the voice of both shows? Murray Walker at one point was commentating on the BTCC, rallycross, F1 and F3, among others, and it was never an issue. Jack is such a likeable commentator that I believe he can pull it off, however if he has to miss Formula E races to cover F1 then that could leave FE in a spot of bother, especially as Jack’s co-commentator Dario Franchitti is also unavailable during parts of the european season due to helping out Chip Ganassi’s drivers in Indycar. It’s entirely possible we could have two replacement commentators, although it’ll be interesting to see how Scott Speed fares in his commentary debut at Mexico in lieu of Franchitti.

  2. I really like Jack, but i dont want him to do 5Live full time. Jack and Dario are my favourite commentary line-up. But intresting to see what C4 are doing pundits wise, and I think it’s a great idea. BRING ON TUESDAY.

  3. I am annoyed with what looks to be Channel 4’s F1 team, happy with Coulthard, Edwards and McKenzie. As stated before, I hate Jones but will see what I think come the season. Also, Wolff and Chandhok are terrible picks. How many people are going to understand him and what in hell made them choose Susie Wolff as a pundit and why did they choose Webber when he’s just going to brag about Vettel and Ricciardo (exactly like EJ – why I hated him). Lets see how many changes are made for 2017, I think Jones will go and Wolff and Chandhok will be quickly replaced.

    • How many people are going to understand him? Are you serious? This is 2016 not 1976.

      I think it’s only fair that we see how the team gets on before we start rushing to pre-judge them…

      • Chandhok and Wolff have, in the past, been very weak pundits on Sky F1. However, McNish was equally bad on Sky in 2012 but in the years since he has been totally at home in his 5 Live role. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned down Channel 4.

      • It’s not racist, it is just an observation. If it was on the BBC, it would be unlikely he would be a pundit. I am in agreement that he knows F1 well, but I have watched F1 for over 40 years and feel in Britain, we should be able to understand everybody (some may struggle due to his accent). Apologies if I have offended anybody.

  4. I’d assume Nicholls replacing Allen is a cost cutting move by the BBC. The title ‘F1 Correspondent’ – which appears to have been scrapped – would have more salary attached than ‘F1 Commentator’. If there’s a story to cover on 5 Live Sport bulletins I can imagine Tom Clarkson reporting on it.

  5. Notice on sky sports news Karen was standing next to Craig with a C4 mic
    No fan of Susie Wolff, she was no good as a driver and she offered zilch on sky f1. She only got a f1 place because of her Dad, the merc boss.

    • Susie’s husband is the Merc de facto boss Toto Wolff: Her maiden name is actually Stoddart, not Wolff. I agree though she is dull, uninspiring and a useless driver not worthy of our respect, and certainly nowhere near as good as she claimed to be. I loathe her Dare to be Different scheme merely because it’s largely built around her own ego and self-promotion and encourages women in motorsport to only work with other women, which isn’t a very progressive or healthy attitude at all actually. If she is on C4 then that’s gonna be a big switch off for me.

    • I just came on here to comment that I also just saw a Channel 4 mic when on Sky’s Paddock Uncut. Are Channel 4 simply practising, or are they planning to put some of the testing interviews in their Melbourne programming?

      Seems pretty strange to me.

  6. Bit harsh to judge Susie on previous F1 punditry – as she was part of Williams she would have had to be cautious in everything she said – now she can open up with no-one to offend (apart from Toto). Karun knows F1 inside and out and while didn’t set the world alight at sky I’d still rate him the best stand-in for Ant Davison they’ve had.

    Ed Hunter – I can’t find anything on the Dare To Be Different website even remotely implying it “encourages women in motorsport to only work with other women”.

  7. Wow nasty people on here. You’re just a bunch of bored trolls who can’t spell and have small man syndrome. Are you not capable of making a constructive comment without taking your shite mood out on F1 presenters?! It’s hardly life or death is it? Quit being so dramatic and chill.

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