F1 has quite an interesting relationship with television.
Still a relatively niche sport despite the success of Drive to Survive and with only 20 or so races per season, fans want their chosen sport to be done some justice by the media and broadcasters who cover it – and that extends to the pundits who comment on the action, often telling the layman how and what to think.
Here’s our rundown of the 10 best pundits operating in F1 currently – and no prizes for guessing who’s (still) number one…
10: Karun Chandhok
Has Karun Chandhok been miscast by Sky since arriving from Channel 4 in 2019?
He will never be adored like Ted Kravitz in the pit-lane reporter role, his analysis isn’t quite as incisive and forensic as Anthony Davidson’s on the SkyPad and he – much like Paul di Resta before him – is not as universally praised as Martin Brundle whenever he steps up to main commentary duties.
All this isn’t to say Chandhok is a poor pundit, not at all, more that he’s really just yet another talking head – not much different to Damon Hill and Jenson Button, either of whom could have claimed 10th spot here themselves.
9: Bernie Collins
A new recruit to the Sky lineup for 2023, former McLaren and Aston Martin engineer/strategist Bernie Collins has brought some sophistication to the production.
Her observations are consistently informative and insightful, bringing a perspective that former drivers simply cannot.
It must be said, however, that her arrival has had a very strange effect on those around her, for a driver can no longer have an innocent minor lockup into a hairpin without the commentator turning to Bernie to ask just how catastrophic that will be for the team’s run plan…
8: Mark Webber
With some drivers, you just know they’re destined for a life in the punditry game even when they’re still racing. So it was with Mark Webber, a sharp shooter with his tongue even at the height of his driving days.
If fellow Channel 4 pundit David Coulthard is effectively a PR man in disguise – Webbo brings a welcome dose of, well, Aussie Grit to the table.
Take, for instance, his observations on Sergio Perez at Silverstone 2023, claiming that even an “old fart” like him could make good progress from 15th on the grid in that Red Bull.
Only Webber, maybe, could come up with a line like that.
7: Ted Kravitz
How did Ted go so criminally underused by ITV and the BBC for so long? It remains one of the great unanswered questions of F1 broadcasting.
At Sky he has found a perfect platform through his beloved Notebook show and the outpouring of support he received when it seemed his job was under serious threat in 2019 was evidence of his popularity among the public.
Would he receive quite the same love now, we wonder, this side of 2021? Perhaps not, but in their rush to evade Sky for a single race weekend last year Red Bull did not seem to understand that simply saying Lewis Hamilton was robbed in Abu Dhabi was no slight whatsoever on Max Verstappen as a deserving World Champion.
That statement, nevertheless, was just one example of Ted getting a little too carried away with himself over the years.
Every sport needs a Ted Kravitz, though, and F1 is lucky to have the original.
6: Eddie Jordan
What can you say about Eddie Jordan?
No, seriously, what can you say? The man is a force of nature almost beyond comprehension and defying of description.
A blur of bold shirts defined the early BBC years when the state broadcaster retook the TV rights and EJ was the undisputed star of the show, offering sharp opinions and a welcome dose of comic relief along the way.
In years to come he will be remembered for breaking the earthshattering story of Hamilton’s move to Mercedes as much as for being the team owner who presented Michael Schumacher with his grand prix debut. If there were ever to be an actual rumour mill in the paddock, Jordan would be the one turning the wheel.
Only his infrequent appearances these days have denied him a place in the top five.
5: Jolyon Palmer
A certain name featured on this list often remarks that his racing exploits merely amounted to research for his glittering career behind the mic.
Could the same be said of Jolyon Palmer, who – following the path of his father Jonathan – has transitioned seamlessly into the media since losing his Renault seat in 2017?
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Palmer has emerged as one of the most eloquent and reasoned F1 voices over the last five years – even better now he’s escaped the influence of a former BBC colleague who seemed intent on reducing debates with Jolyon to childish bickering, making no attempt to hide his desperation to become one half of Formula 1’s answer to Sky football duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Unlike that particular individual, now disgraced and soon to be forgotten, Palmer’s career is going from strength to strength.
4: Anthony Davidson
Two moments remain imprinted in the memory from the punditry career of Davidson.
The first? Barcelona 2016, when the flashing red ‘derate’ light on Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes signalled that he had started the race in an incorrect engine setting, contributing to his collision with Lewis Hamilton.
The second? Baku 2021, when it transpired that Hamilton’s dramatic lock up at the restart was not the basic driving error it seemed and the phrase “brake magic” cemented its place in the F1 lexicon.
Both of these little details were revealed to the world by possibly the only person who could as Davidson demonstrated the benefit of balancing his Sky duties with the role as Mercedes’ sim and development driver.
A significant moment in his career came at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix as he called a full race from the commentary box for the very first time.
His natural performance with the mic only confirmed what most have long suspected: Davidson is the rightful heir to Martin Brundle.
3: Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve says what he means and he means what he says. It’s the rest of F1 that gets itself in a tizz over it.
He may be to everyone’s taste, but in such a small world in which so many paths cross – and the likelihood of being collared by the people you criticise is far higher than in most sports – there is something to be said for someone so willing to voice such honest and authentically held views.
His takedown of Hamilton in the aftermath of Hockenheim 2018 in particular was a thing of beauty, delivered in a devastating prose few ex-athletes would even understand let alone utter themselves.
He may not always be accurate and he may not always be necessarily fair – but he’s always, always worth listening to.
Such a shame, then, that Sky Italia seem to have him all to themselves. Any English-language broadcaster brave enough to make an offer to JV would surely not regret it.
2: Nico Rosberg
Not caring what anyone thinks is one of the most powerful tools a pundit can have – and it is something Nico Rosberg has in spades.
Unless by “anyone” you mean a teenager who insists on calling him ‘Britney’ live on air. He doesn’t like that very much.
With a 2016 title in his back pocket that nobody – not even Lewis Hamilton – is ever going to take away from him, Rosberg carries himself with a part-time, semi-detached freedom that other F1 pundits lack, which allows him to push, pull and probe drivers and team bosses with pointed questions often delivered with a mischievous grin to convey he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Whereas others seek to defend their friends in the paddock, Rosberg is only ever there to serve the audience – and the audience alone – when he picks up a mic.
Here, then, is someone who revels in the role of the troublemaker.
1: Martin Brundle
In an era when older, experienced and well-respected heads are being put out to pasture by Sky, is there a danger of F1 falling out of love with Martin Brundle?
There is some merit to the argument – peddled by his Silverstone sparring partner Cara Delevingne of all people – that he has become slightly too aware of the power his grid walk possesses when it comes to social media penetration.
Yet still, after all this time, there is not a single more authoritative voice on all things F1.
The entire Sky production loses so much on the weekends he’s not there.
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