Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the key roles and responsibilities

The 2017 British Superbike season is heading into its final stages, with the remaining three rounds forming part of the ‘Showdown’.

Silverstone was the last stop on the championship prior to the Showdown, and it was there where this writer was invited into the British Superbikes outside broadcast (OB) truck. Richard Coventry, who has been the television director for the MCE British Superbikes series for the past twelve years, is our guide to the Televideo truck. In the second and final piece, we talk about the various roles involved in live motor sport broadcasting.

As referenced in the first piece, Coventry sits on the front desk, with the monitor wall in front of him. But Coventry’s role as television director is significantly more encompassing than that. Coventry in his role speaks to all the key players around him within the British Superbikes production crew, from the producers through to the commentators, commonly known as ‘talkback’ where information travels back and forth between the various parties.

“I sit in the middle of talkback communication between myself, the Eurosport producer, the camera operators, the VT operators, the sound crew, the engineers, the presenter, the commentators, but also race control, so I can speak to the race director if I need to,” Coventry explains.

The end-to-end process between an incident happening on-track, through to the television viewer hearing the story is fascinating. Because of the communication lines that Coventry has, it means that he can gather information on a riders’ condition from the medical centre, and then relay the facts to the commentators. “I talk to everybody effectively and disseminate the information coming back.”

Sitting next to Coventry is a race producer and a vision mixer. Communication across the front desk is vital. The primary role of the race producer is to keep an eye on emerging battles, deciding with Coventry whether to switch to the battle. Following the decision, the vision mixer cuts the pictures to cover said action. The race producer sits to the left of Coventry, with multiple timing screens in front of him on the monitor wall.

“Myself and the race producer will decide whether the battle for the lead has spread out, we’ll look down for a battle for fifth or a battle for 19th. We must make a judgement call on what the best thing to follow is, it’s not always the same outcome. We’ll prioritise what battle we think is more important for the race, for the championship and we will take a view on that.”

British Superbikes - running order
The Eurosport running order for the British Superbikes qualifying programme from Silverstone on Saturday 9th September 2017.

Behind the trio on the front desk is the Eurosport programme producer and the production assistant (PA). Unlike in Formula 1 or MotoGP, the British Superbikes OB truck controls both the race feed and the Eurosport pictures, hence why there is both a race producer and programme producer. The programme producer writes the running order for the Eurosport show, whilst the production assistant at a high-level ensures the show does not fall off the air. “We do have to think on our feet, the running order has some leeway,” explains Coventry, “but everything is timed down to a second.”

“The PA tells us whether we’re over, under or on-time based on the running order and the event, whether we need to adapt the running order to keep us on-time. If there is a red flag, we might have to consider moving breaks, and it is the PA’s duty to communicate that back to Eurosport. And, to work out, further down the running order later in the day, the things that we need to change to make sure that we’re on time.”

Like with Sky’s Formula 1 programming, many other countries also take Eurosport’s British Superbikes output, and it is the responsibility of the PA to communicate any changes to the other channels. “The PA communicates with the rest of the World Feed recipients, such as Setanta Africa, Sky New Zealand, the people who are taking it live elsewhere to let them know if there’s been any changes to the schedule of the event, so they may want to change what they’re doing as well,” Coventry tells me.

Alongside the key roles, there are other important pieces of the jigsaw. Coventry also referenced the on-air presentation team, the camera operators, an editor, two assistant producers, four replay operators, riggers, amongst many more people behind the scenes. “It does go off successfully, I suppose that’s a relative term! It’s like the proverbial duck on the pond isn’t it, the legs are going ten to the dozen underneath, but the ducks are smooth on the surface!”

“It’s pretty labour intensive, you’ve got to have an operator for most cameras, if we’re live we need a live gallery PA. We couldn’t reduce this beyond where we are without affecting the output. It’s a fairly slick and tight operation. There’s a lot to consider, but fortunately there’s enough of us to think of it all.”

Advertisements

Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the monitor wall

The 2017 British Superbike season is heading into its final stages, with the remaining three rounds forming part of the ‘Showdown’.

Silverstone was the last stop on the championship prior to the Showdown, and it was there where this writer was invited into the British Superbikes outside broadcast (OB) truck. Richard Coventry, who has been the television director for the MCE British Superbikes series for the past twelve years, is our guide to the Televideo truck.

The main component of any OB truck is the wall of video monitors, which is where most of the focus lies. At a very high level, the monitor wall is where the director can see the variety of sources. For Coventry and his team, this can consist of around 13 track cameras and two pit lane cameras.

The size of the operation massively depends on the series, those of you who read my MotoGP piece with Dorna’s Managing Director Manel Arroyo will know that Dorna have around 150 cameras per race! Nevertheless, the principles behind the outside broadcast truck are similar.

“The monitor wall is a multi-viewer, so its eight monitors split with lots of sources. Every source that’s available to me in the vision mixer is on the monitor,” Coventry explains. There is a left bank (with two monitors), the four centre monitors seen above and a right bank (with two further monitors).

The centre bank of monitors is where Coventry’s attention is for much of the time. “I’ve got 13 track cameras directly in my eye line, underneath the main programme output (PGM). Next to that is the vision mixer preview (EDT PVW – PVW) so what is coming next,” Coventry says.

As you may expect, the track cameras are ordered by their position on the circuit. So, track camera one, controlled by Phil, is positioned at Copse (identified on the screenshot above as 1 Phil). Further round the track, Matt is controlling track camera six at Club opposite the Formula 1 pit lane, and so on and so forth.

A special case is track camera eight, identified above as 8 Dodgy. The reason for this is that the camera can double up and act as two different cameras. In this instance, the camera can see the bikes entering and exiting the arena section. This is common place at tracks where there are tight complexes, or the layout is small enough to allow multiple uses of one camera (the camera high up above the start-finish straight at Monte Carlo is another example of this).

The two graphic operators (GFX and GFX 2) sit up in Race Control with the time keepers. The left-hand and right-hand bank of monitors feature repeating sources.

“I’ve got four replay machines, which are called EVS W, X, Y and Z respectively. Each replay machine can record up to six sources,” Coventry explains. Both sides also contain the off-air output for the channels that British Superbikes are broadcasting on (O/A 1, O/A 2, and Quest), the two pit lane cameras (RF1 Chris and RF2 John) and the big screen output around the circuit.

Eurosport use the two pit lane cameras for their pre and post-session presentation, controlled also from the centralised OB truck. “Because of the unique way British Superbikes is run, as well as directing the race production, we also do Eurosport’s presentation. In MotoGP or F1, you would have a BT or Sky Sports truck and then an international World Feed truck, where the UK broadcaster would sit downstream. For the superbikes, unless there is a clash with World Superbikes, we do everything.”

The most interesting part of the side banks is a camera identified as ‘Q-Ball‘. “We control the Q-Ball camera from the truck. The camera this weekend is at Woodcote, coming into the start-finish straight, it’s very close to the track so we wouldn’t place a camera operator there, it gives us a fast speed shot,” Coventry notes. The benefit of doubling some elements up is so that nothing can be missed.

Lastly, specific to the left-hand side are the raw timing screens (P1P2 and P3), and the final satellite output (Line 1). Adrian Bourne, normally sitting to the left of Coventry, will use the timing screens to keep an eye on any emerging battles and on any fallers. One thing readers may notice that is not here is any source on-board cameras. The reason is cost related: the cost of live on-board cameras for motorcycling is significantly more than their four-wheel counterparts. Some On-board footage however is produced for the BSB YouTube channel by Drift Innovation.

British Superbikes - OB truck - buttons.jpg

Below the wall of video monitors is a series of buttons, known more formally as the vision mixer, responsible for slicing the final live product together. There are four repeating banks, each correlating to the sources in the screenshots above. On each bank, there are buttons for the 13 track cameras, the two pit lane cameras and four replay mixers. “It’s layers of vision mixer, cascading into the layer below, so we can make layered complicated effects if we wanted to,” Coventry explains to me.

Each layer also contains a variety of lime green buttons, generated before the live show. “All the green buttons here are macros, which are things written in advance, they’re complicated moves that you wouldn’t be able to build live so we build them in advance. For example the start lights animation is a macro, the team boxes, changing the name of the team boxes, these are stored in the mixer, as is the BSB bug and the timing graphics as well.”

The detail above covers the technical element, including the variety of outputs and graphics. But every television product has a human touch to it, and British Superbikes is no different. The technical side of television production is only one side of a complex story…

British Superbikes - OB truck - Monitor Wall Left 2.jpg

In conversation with Manel Arroyo

It is Saturday afternoon at a surprisingly warm Silverstone circuit. I am half expecting rain at any moment, but apart from early morning drizzle, the MotoGP event took place in remarkable conditions throughout.

About half an hour before the official post-qualifying press conference started, which featured the Moto2 and Moto3 pole sitters, plus the top three riders in the premier class, this writer headed for the Dorna offices situated next to the media centre. Inside, there was a flurry of activity, with a range of guests heading in and out at various intervals.

Dorna have been the commercial rights holder for MotoGP for just over a quarter of a century. “This is our 26th year. We started in Japan in March 1992, the team back then was just twelve people”, Manel Arroyo, who is Dorna’s Managing Director, recalls. Since 1992, Arroyo and his Dorna team have seen a range of technological changes, on both large and small-scale. Arroyo comments, “One of the big moments is when we changed from analogue to digital, it was a huge change for everyone in the industry.”

“Since then, we have gone from 4:3 to 16:9 [in 2008], from SD to HD, and now we are here looking at 4K technology. The cameras that we now install on the machines have significantly more performance, which allows fans to follow the likes of [Valentino] Rossi. This is what makes our work very enjoyable.” During this weekend’s San Marino MotoGP, fans can access a live 360-degree view from Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati via the MotoGP Video Pass service.

A worldwide operation
– 155 cameras per race
=> including 95 on-board cameras
– 360,000 kilograms of equipment
transported
=> 230,000 for the teams
=> 130,000 for Dorna
– 92 tonnes of TV equipment
– 50 trucks
– 4 cargo Boeing 747 planes

From twelve people in 1992, the number of people working for Dorna on their MotoGP coverage has increased to 300, with a split of around 230 people on-site and 70 people in Barcelona depending on the race. “For all of us, Sunday is a special day, because it’s real racing, there’s great racing and competition between our riders,” says Arroyo.

“Each race seems better than the last one, although it will be difficult to have one better than Austria! The paddock works altogether as one, for the common good of the sport, that means riders, manufacturers, teams, FIM, Dorna, broadcasters, media and all our other partners. It’s important that we listen to what the riders like, what the riders don’t like around the rules, what the broadcasters like, what the broadcasters don’t like and so on, whether they want the show in another format or package,” Arroyo continued.

> BT Sport likely to retain UK TV rights for MotoGP

Although not always visible, the work that Dorna does goes beyond the MotoGP paddock, with Arroyo keen to point out the links to other motorcycle series to help talent flourish through the system from end-to-end. “We have been running with Red Bull the Red Bull Rookies Cup for many years. We also have the Asian Talent Cup that we’re running in Asia with Idemitsu and Honda, this is its fourth year. And [prior to Silverstone], we’ve started the process for the British Talent Cup, we will be running it next year.”

“We have connections with MotoAmerica, the American championship. We help them to produce the TV feed, and with the sporting and technical regulations, as we understand that in the long-term this will help grow the appeal of our sport.” Following Silverstone, it was announced that MotoAmerica would be expanding with a junior series, plus it is enriching its online offering so its European and Latin America fans can follow the series.

On the social media front, Arroyo is happy with the metrics, as demonstrated on this site. “We are reaching through social networks [to younger audiences], as you know very well, we’re the best motor sport in terms of followers in the social networking space!” The feeling that I received from Arroyo is that MotoGP is in a good position.

Attendances are fluctuating, with an unusually low attendance for the British MotoGP. Overall, whilst the picture is positive, the championship cannot afford to be complacent with roadblocks ahead, which is why Dorna are preparing for the long-term future and the next generation by investing in feeder, localised series around the world.

A race to the printers

When the chequered flag falls on Sunday afternoons, the hard work may be over for the MotoGP riders, who have just raced around some of the world’s toughest circuits. But behind the scenes on the journalistic front, there is a separate race against time that goes unnoticed. A race for the printers. A race round the paddock to get the quotes that will either be the lead story online, or the lead story on the supermarket shelves. It is a frantic race, that brings with it many layers that must fit seamlessly into place for the process to work.

In the lead-up to the home round of the 2017 MotoGP championship, Motorcycle News (MCN) published a 32-page British Grand Prix special, that was months in the making. “We’ve been planning the paper for three months. I started on it at Sachsenring before the Summer break, planning and then gathering quotes during Austria and Brno,” explained Simon Patterson, MCN’s MotoGP reporter.

Patterson, who has been MCN’s reporter since the start of 2016, described how the input of British riders was vital in helping with delivery of the special. “With British riders, we can do things over the phone as we have a great relationship with them. One of the features we have in the preview is a track map which needed to be annotated. I sent the map to Tarran [Mackenzie], he printed it, scribbled notes on it, photographed it and sent it back! There’s mutual benefit.”

Despite a reduced circulation, the weekly paper is still a key part of MCN’s output, with an audience of around 66,000 readers per week in 2016 according to Press Gazette, a healthy number and comfortably ahead of its competitors in the market. It is important for the future of the newspaper that it has exclusive stories, such as Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati from last year.

“You get to build your circle of sources. There are a few things that someone has told me a month in advance, I think it doesn’t sound correct, and then a month later it comes true! The next time they tell you something, you take them a bit more seriously,” Patterson says.

Attention during the early part of the weekend is on producing content for the website, with a clear emphasis on disseminating driver quotes, session results and evening round-ups, before focus turns to gathering key information ready for the magazine.

The paper, which is published each Wednesday, forms the backbone of Patterson’s post-race output. “The race normally finishes at 3pm local time, we go straight into rider debriefs and the press conferences, trying to catch riders in the paddock. Normally that takes me until around 6pm, and it is just me from MCN at this stage! I won’t start writing until 6pm essentially, which is normally four spreads of the paper, eight pages and around 6,000 words in total,” explains Patterson, who regularly spends Sunday evenings amongst other journalists in the media centre until the early hours!

Only after the chequered flag falls does the lead story start to fall into place, but even then, the narrative may still be undecided. “You have an idea of what the story is, but sometimes you can ask a question in the debrief to get the quotes from them to support what you’re going to write. You know your angle, you ask the question and get the supporting evidence from them, that’s the way to build it,” Patterson notes. Patterson is MCN’s sole MotoGP reporter at 16 of the 18 rounds, meaning that his role is critical throughout the entire process. The news gathering process is similar irrespective of organisation.

Unlike the television crews around the world who broadcast MotoGP, journalists have time to digest the information presented to them before writing their narrative. “[The TV guys] can do a certain amount of prep [before going to air]; they may have talked to people after warm-up, but I get the chance to talk to all of the riders first, talk to crew chiefs, talk to people from Michelin and then form an opinion,” explains fellow MotoGP journalist David Emmett, who has been writing about MotoGP for MotoMatters for a decade. “Because it is more reactive it requires less preparation, because I write 2,000 words in the evening, I have time to sit down and think about it.”

Outside of the circuit, once Patterson has written his material for the newspaper, a quality assurance phase occurs, a procedure common place in the print industry to ensure the material written is accurate and of high-quality. Known as ‘sub-editing’, Patterson’s pieces for print go through four layers involving three MCN editors (Sports, Production and Senior) and the design team before final sign-off. It is an exhaustive, but vital, process. Already in the background, journalists are compiling quotes and research for future races, as MotoGP speeds towards the flyaway races, the process is constantly moving forward.

Following publication of last week’s edition of MCN looking back at the British MotoGP, truncated stories are published online to direct attention to the paper. And then, for Patterson and the rest of the fraternity, attention turns to the next stop of the season, which this weekend is the San Marino MotoGP…

In conversation with Marc Priestley

Ahead of Marc Priestley’s return to the Formula E paddock this weekend, I sat down with him at the AUTOSPORT show to chat all things motor sport from his technical background, through to his media activities in the past few years. We started the chat by talking about his early motor sport career.

MP: My fascination with motor sport like most people started by watching it on telly, I was always interested in Formula 1. I grew up living next door to Brands Hatch, which at the time was the venue for the British Grand Prix every other year. In our little village, the whole world used to descend on the place, and it drew me in. I couldn’t avoid it; you could hear the noise of the cars from where I lived. I guess it was inevitable looking back that I was going to be drawn towards motor sport.

I was doing a creative and artistic A Level course, nothing to do with engineering. At that point, it clicked in my head, I’m going down this route of education that I don’t really want to do. Motor sport is my ultimate fascination, so why not work in it. I went home; I remember having a discussion with the parents saying that I want to ditch my A Levels. They thought I was crazy!

I switched onto an engineering course at the same college. In the meantime, I started making as many contacts through the people in the village that I knew that were involved loosely. I did a number of work experience opportunities, with different teams in the lower categories. I absolutely loved it.

My friends always dreamt of being racing drivers, which was the natural thing to do, but something in my mind wanted to be part of a pit stop crew. It was the teamwork, and the engineering that I became obsessed with, so that’s why I ended up on this route towards Formula 1. I went through the various rungs on the ladder, Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and then eventually onto Formula 1. It was a dream come true.

F1B: As you stepped the ladder, the pressure grows a bit, the paddock changes slightly. How did you adjust from going to a paddock of 50 people to say a paddock of 500, did it feel like there was more pressure?

MP: The step up to Formula 1 is a big, big step. Each step towards that is a relatively minor step. The step, even from Formula 3000 is a big step up just because the teams in Formula 1 are so enormous. I was suddenly in the McLaren garage that I had been watching on telly in awe of just two weeks before. Now I was dressed in the same gear, and I was with these guys. I knew there were millions of people watching these pit stops.

The pressure is the single biggest thing you have to find a way to deal with. There’s no training for it, the teams don’t have a mechanism to ease you into the pressure, you’re kind of thrown in. Some people deal with it and I have seen people who can’t. You have to be the right type of person to be able to handle that sort of situation. Strangely, I thrived on it, every time we had a pit stop, even in my final year after being in Formula 1 for ten years; the adrenaline rush of a pit stop was just amazing.

F1B: McLaren was your only Formula 1 team, but were you tempted by any switches along the way?

MP: I very nearly went to Ferrari in 2007. When Kimi [Raikkonen] left to go to Ferrari, I’d been working with him for many years. My very good friend and his personal trainer Mark Arnall went with him to Ferrari, and a few of us had discussions with Kimi and talked about going over as well. It was something that I toyed with. I was on the verge of going out there for a meeting, to have a look around and talk about it further, but in the end I decided not to, mostly for personal reasons. It would have been a huge adventure, but I was probably less risk adverse at that time than I would have been 15 years earlier.

F1B: At McLaren you worked with various different drivers, Raikkonen, David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, so on and so forth. How did you manage to control the media element, with a lot of high-profile drivers comes, not necessarily ego, but a bit of ‘baggage’ along the way?

MP: It does, with some much more than others. The media department within McLaren deals with it, so there is a team of people to handle that. The drivers handle it all very differently. Someone like Kimi is incredibly low maintenance he has no ego. I know the media have a love-hate relationship with him, but when you’re working with that in a team, you love that because you know he’s not playing up to the camera, he’s not giving off any false persona when he’s doing an interview. He’s the same guy in front of the camera as he is in the garage, or when he’s having a beer away from the track, and I love that.

Others feel like they have to give off a certain image, and that’s the more common trait amongst Formula 1 drivers and I think Formula 1 does that a little bit to people. It’s a very corporate world, more so at McLaren, you always feel like you have to give off the right image, even if that’s not your natural image. That’s sometimes quite hard to curb. I used to push the boundaries; Ron Dennis hated that because if the media saw it then it would ruin the team’s reputation. You have to be slightly careful; I came close a few times! In terms of working with drivers, it utterly depends on whom you have and whom you’re working with at any given time.

F1B: Did you find that if there was media attention for a certain driver that you would just have to try to block it out?

MP: Yeah, absolutely. When I was a mechanic, I had a lot of friends in the media. When there’s a story breaking, you can sense that these people, who are your friends, but work in the media, they want a story. At that point, the friendship has to change because you have to be slightly guarded in what you give off, you can’t give out too many secrets and also they’re just your friends. There is a fine balance, and particularly when I left the team and moved into the media myself, I noticed that from my [McLaren] friends and former colleagues. It’s a shame that happens slightly, you go back to square one having to build up the trust with your friends again, knowing that you’re not going to betray their confidence if they tell you something.

F1B: How was 2007 from the media point of view?

MP: It was horrible, a negative year other than the fact that we had a very quick car and two quick drivers, those were the positives. Everything else was negative. The drivers were fighting, the team was fighting and we had the spygate case going on in the background, which was a global news story. We were found guilty and thrown out the championship. There was negativity everywhere. As a mechanic, being part of that team, you feel like that takes you and your reputation down. I had nothing to do with any of that stuff, the spygate stuff was nothing to do with any of us in the garage, but you can’t help feel like that the media or people watching on associate anyone wearing a McLaren shirt with the bad press and cheating. It was my most difficult year in motor sport. We should have walked away with both championships. The media love a story like that, so when you’re in the middle of it, it’s very difficult to try to park that to one side and to get on with the job. It’s difficult anyway with people trying to take the whole team down at times.

F1B: In hindsight, is it just one of those things that you have to accept “it will happen” with two fast drivers, or is there anything you can do to stop it?

MP: It’s very difficult to avoid, and to a degree, you want to a bit of it. When your biggest competitor is the other side of the garage, you have to fight against him. I think one of the interesting things will be is if we get the likes of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo fighting for the championship, the media will try to stir it up. So far, they’ve been great mates and have got on very, very well, have bounced off each other nicely yet pushed each other hard and fairly.

Each one of these situations, which doesn’t come around that often, is a case study. Lewis and Nico will have undoubtedly learnt from Lewis and Fernando with us. And if it turns out to be Red Bull’s turn next, they will learn from what the guys have done before them. I don’t think there’s any real magic answer as to how to deal with it, I thought Mercedes actually did a good job over handling what can be a very difficult situation to be in. They’ve been pretty open and honest about their drivers, with their drivers and with the public about what was going on. I think that’s all you can do.

F1B: After McLaren, you moved into the media spotlight, and you’ve been there since.

MP: Yeah, I’ve absolutely loved it. When it came to the point that we had won the championship with Lewis Hamilton in 2008, in 2009 I had started to think about what I would do after leaving the team. I realised that I had all of these stories, all of this knowledge and experience from my many years in the team that fans love to hear about it. It started by writing a blog at first, that’s how it really got going. It was the fans reaction to the stuff that I was writing, and the rest of the media’s reaction, that spurred me on. I realised how much insight I had that people wanted to hear about.

It was the producers of the BBC 5 Live Formula 1 radio show that noticed my writing and took me in as a pit lane reporter back in 2012. I was alongside Jennie Gow, absolutely loved it, realised that was where I wanted to go with my career next, so set about really trying to get to where I am now. I love Formula 1, I’ve always loved motor sport in general and I love being able to try to explain to people what’s going on, why things are going on, how things work. I think I have a technical understanding from an engineering background, so to be able to try to translate that into perhaps more simple terms for some people and keep it intricate for others is quite a fine balance and a difficult thing to do. I like to think it’s something I’m reasonably good at!

F1B: You should be in hot demand this year, considering the amount of changes that we have. Viewers will turn on in Australia and think, “Those cars are different”, but quite a few will want to know why.

MP: Absolutely, I hope so. Times like this are exciting for me because of the big technical changes in the sport. Things like Formula E, which is brand new and need total explanation, because they’re completely different from what everybody understands as a racing car, I love that. I love innovation, and trying to explain innovation and both Formula 1 and Formula E are at the forefront of that, so to be involved in both is a dream come true.

F1B: How have you found the Formula E journey so far, this year is its third year.

MP: I’m a massive fan. I understand from a traditionalist point of view, the fans that say they want screaming engines, burning rubber and noise, but I’m more of the view that we need to move forward. Let’s embrace something that is futuristic with technology that no one has seen before, that no one has pushed to the limits before. We’re sat here in front of a line-up on 1970s [Lotus] Formula 1 cars, these things made incredible noise, but you can’t cling onto that forever.

You’ve got to move forward, so I absolutely applaud Formula E for taking the plunge. You could argue that they went in early; maybe the technology and fans weren’t quite ready. They’ve continued with it and I think they’ve done an incredible job of making a great show, taking it to some amazing places. I’m fascinated to see where it goes from here, they’ve got a blank canvas to do anything and that’s something Formula 1 doesn’t necessarily have. Formula 1 can’t take a giant leap in the opposite direction, it’s like an enormous container ship trying to change direction, it has to do it slowly. It has so many fans that they need to be edged into new technology and change. Formula E doesn’t have that, they can do whatever they want and I think these are really exciting times.

F1B: How long do you think it will take Formula E, both in terms of the championship, but also the media and the audience perspective to mature? At the moment, it’s still a very immature product.

MP: It is. But you can see from the number of major auto manufactures that are now getting on-board, a number that’s increasing all the time over the last six months. We have some major players coming on-board. That tells you the level of potential that this series has got. Big names like BMW, Audi, Renault, DS Citroen and Jaguar. Those big names are the names that people out there watching, flicking through the channels, they recognise those names. The names being associated with Formula E gives the championship extra credence, and people will begin to believe in it even more. That’s where Formula E needed to get to, and it’s promising that is genuinely now starting to happen.

F1B: Lastly, what are your plans for 2017, what do you have lined up?

MP: Well I sat at home just last week, having had a month’s rest, looking at my schedule for 2017 and it’s crazy. I’m doing most Formula 1 races with Sky, I’m doing every Formula E race now with Formula E itself, and a load of other things in between, some of which I can’t say at the moment! 2017 is looking like a really exciting year for me, a very busy one. I’m really excited for it.

My thanks go to Marc Priestley for spending the time with me on the above interview.