Last week two Badgers were lucky enough to be invited to roll up for a Sky Sports F1 Media Event at the cooperation’s Sett in Brentford, London. Amidst a haze of pre-season excitement, Crofty-banter, and an assortment of paint, Craig Norman and Joe Diamond got talking to the Sky Sports F1 team on all things 2014.
The recent Badger cull in the UK shocked us gravely, but the surprise when we arrived at Sky HQ was on the same level. We enter a studio brimming with the familiar Sky Sports F1 faces -the Martin Brundles, Natalie Pinkhams, and Johnny Herberts of this world – in a scene of Dulex-squalor.
Don’t worry, the guys haven’t spent the off-season earning pocket money as decorators (and bad ones at that), but were in fact shooting a promotional film for the season ahead. In the background we see Simon Lazenby and David Croft painting a number of 2014-related images and slogans against a white canvas, while in the foreground it’s a gaggle of laughs and banter between Pinkham and the Sky F1 film crew. Yes, it looks as if Lazenby, Pinkham, Brundle, Davidson, Croft, Herbert and Hill have lost none of the character and exuberance that has graced Sky’s coverage since its first foray into F1 two years ago.
Naturally however, it’s not long before we all get our teeth into F1 2014, with the always interesting Brundle the first to throw his hat into the ring by predicting the unpredictable. We step outside and away from the sauna-like studio; “I think it’ll evolve so quickly”, says Brundle .
“Im sure what we’re going to see in Melbourne is a lot of pieces on the cars that couldn’t be readied for Bahrain, so already you’ll see a big step. But it does look a bit set in stone for the first few races that everyone with a Mercedes-Benz engine should do well; they’ve done the same mileage as Ferrari and Renault put together, and they seem to have gone into the normal pre-season stuff of race-runs, pit stops and practice starts. The stuff that teams would normally have under control, but this year that they clearly haven’t.
“I described it earlier on as like the egg and spoon race; you can run along like crazy with the egg and then drop it, before Mr or Ms Slowly come along and win the race. I think it could be like that at the beginning, a bit like survival of the fittest. And then we’ll see after that.
“But for Melbourne, you can’t look past the Mercedes pair of Rosberg and Hamilton, can you?”
We follow suit behind Brundle and back into the Sky-skunkworks, just in time to witness Crofty brush up on his darts technique – COVERING Pinkham in a layer of paint. “Ewwww too much! All gang up on the girl – story of my life!” squeals the presenter.
Crofty revels in the magnificence of his aim. “And THAT is why I play darts, what a shot! I’ve wanted to do that all day” As Pinkham launches the dagger stare at Crofty, we save the commentator from almost certain pain by dragging him aside and quizzing him on who he expects to thrive in 2014.
“Even the drivers who have been in F1 for a while will still have to adapt themselves (to the 2014 regulations), so everyone has to adapt whether you are Jenson Button or Marcus Ericsson. It’s a real test for the drivers, and it’s as level as it’ll ever be in Formula One.”
Regarding the problems that Renault are currently facing, Crofty calls a giggling, paint-splattered Hill over to aid discussions. “The irony is, they thought they had the upper hand on turbo technology”, Hill mocks.
“But that’s what F1 is. The teams sit down in the Technical Working Group and the cunning b**tards like Ross Brawn sit there and go ‘yeah, we’ll vote for those regulations…’ and somehow they’ve gone and stolen the march on the rest.
“But, Renault really are fragile.”
Crofty adds to the engine-talk: “Don’t forget that it was Renault who campaigned for these values. This is what Renault wanted!
“It’s all down to their software coding, and I think whoever is in charge of their computer software will be having headaches! It’ll come down to writing the right codes, but how long that will take, well who knows.”
As Crofty and Hill depart for more filming on set, the afternoon reaches a head with Herbert firing a beam of red paint at ‘Lazers’, and the subsequently ticked-off camera-crew (oh, and Crofty’s shoes). Paint-splattered cameras, angry TV Crew… it’s time for us to depart.
And so, with the fabulous Media Day over, it’s on to Melbourne!
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