As we start the year, Badger’s Sarah Merritt posed a few questions to Sky Sports F1 presenter Ted Kravitz.
Sarah Merritt: We’re used to seeing you on our Sky Formula 1 coverage, and look forward to your Notebook to give us behind the scenes and techy insights whilst watching at home. Many will be aware that prior to that you were with ITV and also did some British Touring Car coverage, but can you tell us how it all started? How you made the move from University Radio in Exeter to progress to being a presenter today?
Ted Kravitz: I started as a radio journalist covering news and sport in London. Motorsport was my passion, but besides covering the odd story for Capital FM, I never thought I’d get the chance to work in F1. But when ITV took over from the BBC in 1996, I managed to get a job as a researcher on the new production. I progressed through to being a producer before moving into the pit lane reporter’s role when James Allen vacated it to step into Murray Walker’s shoes following his retirement at the end of 2001. From there it was F1 and a few years of the BTCC for ITV Sport and Formula 1 for the BBC and Sky.
SM: I know the guys always joke about you being Lenny’s cousin. Was it around the time you first went on air that you decided to use the name Kravitz?
TK: Well, Kravitz is my mum’s maiden name. I use it for sentimental reasons.
SM: And what is it like working and travelling with such a great bunch as the Sky Sports F1 team? You all seem to have such a great rapport!
TK: It’s good. The thing that makes it work is that none of us wants the other’s job so we’re happy in what we do and there’s no behind-the-scenes infighting, which can happen in any organisation, company or team. I remember Ross Brawn once said this when explaining the secret to Ferrari’s success in the glory years of the early 2000’s – it’s the same for us.
SM: Did you have an interest in Formula 1 before you started working in motorsport? Or is this something that you picked up knowledge of along the way as your career progressed?
TK: Of course I had an interest! My passion has always been motorsport and Formula 1. As a kid I would think, eat, drink, sleep and breathe F1 and the drivers, characters, engineering side and teams. And now I work in F1, I’m not so different. I’m a fan at heart, so I just ask the questions I’d like to ask as a fan.
SM: What would you say is the most enjoyable part of your job? Is it being on air, or perhaps when you might be investigating something behind these scenes, or spotting a new technical development on one of the cars as they build on a Thursday?
TK: The best moments are when there is a big story, like the USA GP in 2005 when all the Michelin-tyre teams had to pull out of the race, and we were in the middle of it, covering the story live. Any big chaos or disqualification is always important and so is very enjoyable to cover. Unfortunately, the big stories are sometimes also the worst moments, like the Japanese GP when Jules Bianchi had his accident.
SM: You and the whole Sky Sports F1 team make a real effort to engage with all the fans that you meet on your travels – you are very generous with your time and always come and talk to us. What more do you think F1 as a sport can do to engage with the fans that love it so much, but sometimes feel a little bit on the outside?
TK: We should organise more Facebook Live sessions from Monaco.
(Like the one below, Ted? – Ed)
SM: Do you ever find yourself getting nervous before you go live on air nowadays, or when talking to the camera, is it easy to imagine there’s just, say, you and Pete wandering the paddock and pit lane?
TK: Sure, you tend to get nervous before doing something that requires a high level of concentration; maybe a piece to camera when you have to remember a lot of different things and make sure you get them in the right order, tell the story and not miss anything out. If you’re not nervous you’re not trying hard enough.
SM: Touching on the travelling side of the role – do you enjoy the travel, or does it just feel like part of the norm now? And what is your favourite city or race that you’ve attended (and your least favourite)?
TK: You couldn’t do this job without liking travel, but that’s not why I do it. Favourite city/race was Buenos Aires, Argentina at the Autodromo Oscar Gálvez. I don’t have a least favourite, they’re all good in different ways.
SM: There are lots of great personalities in the paddock, and lots of legends all around you, so who do you most enjoy interviewing? You’ve had some great opportunities to chat to Bernie in the past, and you are always first to talk to Niki after the race.
TK: Yep, they’d be up there. Also, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, but my favourite is Alexander Wurz.
SM: Have you got any funny stories from your travels that you can share with us? I ask this as Marc Priestley always tells me the best anecdotes and I’m sure you might also have a few crackers to share!
TK: Yes, but it would be indiscreet of me to share. Most of the sensitive ones involve Marc Priestley.
SM: Staying on this theme, who is your least favourite to interview, perhaps because they don’t engage as well as some of the others?
TK: Simon Lazenby.
SM: We’ve seen Crofty get the opportunity to drive an F1 car, Rachel race in her Radical, and of course, you are surrounded by quite a few ex and current drivers – would you like to drive something, or would you rather be flying, given the choice? And what is the history behind your love of flying?
TK: A couple of questions there. First about driving race cars, yes, I’d love to do a bit more (I hold a (lapsed) National B Race license), but I don’t really have the time or money. That’s because any spare time I do have is spent flying. The history is simple; it’s something I always wanted to do, from an early age. I like the discipline and technical aspect in flight planning, aircraft preparation, start, take-off and landing and the sense of peace and freedom once established on a flight and everything you planned is working out perfectly. And the ATC. Love the whole air traffic control side.
SM: Obviously, when you are away from work, you love to spend time with your family, as I’m sure you get precious little time with your kids with all the travel, but what is your favourite way to relax or wind down?
TK: I play Hockey when I can, I like swimming with my kids and watching most sports – the more obscure the better.
SM: What, for you, was the highlight of last season?
TK: Must be that Facebook Live session we did in Monaco!
SM: And what was the biggest surprise?
TK: I was surprised by a few things – like Rosberg deciding to retire – but Haas did a very competent job and deserved their 8th place in the constructor’s championship.
SM: And lastly, a look ahead for next year:
- One for me – will McLaren make another leap and show good progress? (Please!)
- Will it be a Merc/Lewis domination?
- With the regulation changes, will Red Bull be right up there?
TK: Well, firstly McLaren Honda. I’m yet to be convinced that Honda can deliver in the short to medium term, so ‘progress’ is probably the best you can hope for. As for your other questions – no it won’t and yes they will!
Many thanks to Ted for giving us his time.