Sky Italia suspends F1 commentators after sexist remarks on air

Two Sky Sport commentators have been suspended after a series of sexist remarks during an on-air post-race analysis of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.

During live television, Matteo Bobbi and Davide Valsecchi, both former racing drivers and now Formula One commentators for Sky Sport, an Italian channel, made sexist comments about a woman in the background around the paddock, with Bobbi referring to her as an “upgrade package”, inviting Valsecchi to look behind him.

Valsecchi turned to look at the woman and then replied: “I know, but they told me I can’t test them. So I raise my hands.”

The comments visibly embarrassed the Sky Sport journalist Federica Masolin, who stood alongside Valsecchi, as another journalist in the studio urged the pair to “be careful”.

Masolin said: “I ask for political asylum. Can’t we watch some interviews instead of listening to these two? Let’s hear from Carlos Sainz, please. I’m going to censor you two.

“Will we see them safe and sound again at the next grand prix after these comments – that will be greatly appreciated by their wives?”

“I think I’ll get a beating if I go home,” said Bobbi.

Sky Italia confirmed to the Guardian the pair had been temporarily suspended and would not work on the next grand prix in Canada.

The two commentators apologised on Monday. Valsecchi wrote on Instagram: “I’m very sorry because, on Sunday, after the race, I exchanged some jokes that were in bad taste and used inappropriate and disrespectful words. And I’m not like this. I would really like to apologise to those who felt offended, to women and to Sky.”

Bobbi said: “I sincerely apologise to anyone who may have felt offended and wish to reiterate my total and profound respect for everyone and for women.

“For 10 years, I have been commenting on F1 with friends from Sky, who have become like a family to me now and, in 10 years, I have never found myself in such an unpleasant situation. I’ve always thought that you learn, understand and start again from your mistakes. What happened will lead me to try to improve further as a man and as a professional.”