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Sky F1 make commentator change with David Croft to miss three races

Sky F1 make commentator change with David Croft to miss three races

Sky Sports F1’s lead commentator David Croft will miss three races this season – the first time he has missed a race in 16 years – with BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Harry Benjamin to replace him.

Croft has been Sky’s lead commentator since the broadcaster obtained the UK rights to Formula 1 from the BBC in 2012 and has not missed a race in that 11-year period.

But ahead of a record 24 races in 40 weeks in 2024, the broadcaster known as “Crofty” has decided to step back from three grand prix weekends to manage his workload, The Independent can reveal.

Benjamin, an F1 broadcaster who as well as 5 Live also worked on Sky’s coverage of F1 Juniors last year, will replace Croft at Imola in May, Austria in June and Azerbaijan in September.

Speaking to The Independent, Croft said: “It’s more about keeping fresh for the whole season. I’m not getting any younger.

“I’ve given up and sacrificed a lot for my career. I want to give a bit of time back to my family and not be on the other side of the world. I’m getting married this year as well, so I’ve got a wedding to organise!

“But I also want to sit and watch a race at home. I want to enjoy it. Maybe I can learn something by not commentating on a race. I can spot a few things when I’m watching – I want to see what the viewer sees.”

David Croft will miss three races for Sky Sports F1 this season (Getty Images)
David Croft will miss three races for Sky Sports F1 this season (Getty Images)

Prior to his work at Sky, the 53-year-old Croft was 5 Live’s commentator from 2006-2011, only missing one race – the 2007 European Grand Prix – in that period for the birth of his son.

He has covered more than 350 races during his career and will still be at the helm for 21 weekends this season.

Croft also called for F1 to amend the end-of-season timetable, which sees Las Vegas start a triple-header to conclude the campaign, with the paddock then crossing over to Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

“The triple headers do take their toll, you can be pretty exhausted by the end of it,” he said.

“The one time-shift you could really do without is Vegas to Qatar. I’d like to see Vegas change its times a bit. A 12-hour shift in time-zones – you can’t do more than that on this planet. Abu Dhabi last year was exhausting. I think that’s something which could be addressed.

“But we’ll see what 24 [races] is like. It’s uncharted territory. It will be a huge effort for everybody. If we have a close season on track, the adrenaline carries you along a little bit. If the title’s wrapped up early, then it can be a bit ‘another race, another race’ so we’ll see.”

Sky also confirmed that former McLaren and Aston Martin strategist Bernie Collins will have an increased role on their coverage this year, appearing at 10 races.

Simon Lazenby, Natalie Pinkham and Rachel Brookes will continue to present coverage of F1 on Sky this year, with Martin Brundle, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button among the list of pundits.

The new F1 season starts on Saturday 2 March with the Bahrain Grand Prix.