The BBC have confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will join the 5 Live Formula 1 team for the 2018 season.
Palmer, who raced with Renault in Formula 1 during 2016 and 2017, will commentate on all 21 races this season. Jack Nicholls again leads the commentary line-up, but will miss the Canadian round because of his Formula E commitments. Jennie Gow remains with the 5 Live team, joining Nicholls and Palmer in pit lane.
The level of radio coverage, produced by USP Content, that the BBC are providing is like last season. Each race weekend begins with a preview show on Thursday evening, plus the Chequered Flag podcast following the weekend.
As well as his commentary commitments, Palmer will also write regular pieces for the BBC Sport website. Speaking ahead of the new season, Palmer said, “I’ve worked with Jennie and Jack a lot but am more used to being grilled by them! It’s going to be great joining them in the commentary team and to get to ask the questions myself. I’m fascinated to see how the inter-team rivalry plays out and hope I’ll be able to bring my own knowledge of the personalities involved to shed further light on the relationships.”
Adding to Palmer’s comments, Gow said, “I’m delighted to be working alongside Jolyon this year. He has stepped straight out of an F1 car and into the BBC Radio 5 live commentary box. His knowledge of the cars, the politics and the dynamics are unrivalled and as both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle it out for a fifth World title he will be able to give us and the listeners a unique insight into the life of a driver.”
“I’ve spent the last few years grilling Jolyon on all things Formula One. It’s brilliant that he’ll now be the one behind the microphone and bringing a unique perspective to the 5 live F1 team. It’s going to be a great year of competition and Jolyon will be with us every step of the way to give even more analysis and insight.”
Given Palmer’s experience with current generation Formula 1 cars, it is a major coup for the BBC to pick up Palmer’s services for the 2018 season. Palmer has previous commentary experience through one-off appearances in both the Sky and GP2 Series commentary box, so is not coming at this completely new.
As of writing, it is unclear whether Allan McNish, Tom Clarkson or Mark Gallagher remain with the BBC’s 5 Live team. I suspect in the case of McNish and Gallagher, we may see them on an ad-hoc basis, McNish now of course team principal of the Audi Formula E outfit. Clarkson is expected to be part of Formula 1’s new over-the-top service, however this remains unconfirmed.
Update on February 22nd at 21:40 – Writing on Twitter, Nicholls has confirmed that McNish, Clarkson and Gallagher will not be part of the BBC’s coverage this year.