We don’t usually take well to people who have a pop at Badgers 30-seconds after we sit down for a chat with them. But, over the course of an interview that ran twice its planned duration, Ted Karavitz more than made up for his ill will towards the black and white mammal from which our site takes its name. He’s a quirky sort, with a penchant for the technical, behind the scenes side of Formula One and he also owns the cheapest watch on the BBC F1 team: it’s time for a quick spin through The Head of Ted.
“I’m sad in that I find something in every grand prix. I wouldn’t say that any races are dull, it’s just that some are more interesting than others.”
An F1 pitlane reporter since 2002, Ted Kravitz joined the BBC when coverage switched to the channel in 2009. It was a popular decision. After all, who doesn’t enjoy his relentless scouring of the F1 pit during the grand prix, searching for morsels of stories, much like a Badger seeking out food for its young? Not that he’d enjoy that analogy: Ted’s no fan of Badgers.
“Badgers? Well they’re a countryside pest, aren’t they” Badger’s editor quickly points out that they’re also full of character, very wise and vicious if annoyed.
“They are. My parents-in-law are farmers so I’ve got plenty of experience of Badgers.” I note that it doesn’t sound like it’s been very positive. “Well, as I say, they’re a farmyard pest.”
Fair enough – we’re pretty sure neither party wishes to continue down this route, so we move on to ask Ted whether he has any special features has planned for the 2011 F1 coverage.
“Yes I do – though I can’t tell you because that would spoil the surprise! But I can say we’ll have interesting features on driver workload, the moveable rear-wing, F1 fuel tanks and how Renault have managed to route two exhaust pipes, carrying gases of up to 900 degrees centigrade, and not boil the fuel and cook the driver’s hip. So there are some lovely techie features coming up this season.
“We’ll also be looking at nano technology and its use in crash structures, helmets and visors, which is very interesting. Did you know that they’re 64 times stronger than carbon fibre if they’re constructed using nano technology? So that’s an interesting one, but I’ve blown it by giving you all the details!”
Ted’s also pretty excited about what’s in store on-track this year, and singles out McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton as his title pick. Why? Simple: KERS.
“Lewis is my favourite for 2011. He’s got KERS experience, the edge over his team-mate, the intelligence to know when he’s mullering the tyres and when to back off – though his recent track record does suggest he tends to muller them a bit more than he should – and desire. You could say the same for Fernando Alonso, but I think there KERS thing might just slightly edge it in Lewis’ favour.”
We interject at this point to mention that whilst Fernando may not have KERS experience his Ferrari team most certainly does. “But Alonso doesn’t,” is Ted’s immediate answer, to which we add that Fernando hasn’t taken long to learn anything about a racing car in the past.
“But Felipe Massa does, and he had to sit out half the season in which they had KERS after his Hungary accident.” Felipe isn’t Fernando, Ted. “Well exactly – I think we’re getting at the same point!”
“Me a commentator? No, I’d be completely useless!”
He’s the chatty sort, continually prolonging our interview despite it having run several minutes over the allotted time. As well as what you’re reading here he also gave us so pretty in-depth answers to the five quick-fire questions Badger hit all of the BBC team with, and which you’ll find right here in the coming days. But right now its back to Ted’s wider thoughts and Alonso remains on-topic as Mr. Kravitz ponders what he sees as the ideal modern driver line-up.
“Alonso and Robert Kubica: that’s a pairing I hope happens some day. I know we all hope Robert can come back and have a great team waiting for him. You’ll have noticed that Ferrari were very vocal in wishing him the best and Fernando was the first person to visit him in the hospital. It’s long been felt that Kubica is a Ferrari driver in waiting and there’s nothing I’ve seen over the last few days that’s persuaded me otherwise. Ferrari described him as ‘very close to us’. So hopefully he’ll recover quickly and it’s not impossible that we’d then see an Alonso-Kubica pairing.”
It was nice to hear Ted wishing Bobby K. well for the coming months – but what about his own future – could he see himself doing what James Allen, the man he replaced as ITV’s pitlane report, did and step in to a commentary role?
“No, I’d be completely useless!” Ted laughs, clearly amused we’d ever float such an unlikely career change. “I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. I don’t purport to be a commentator. I’ll leave that to Martin and DC, and Jake is an excellent presenter, better than I’ll ever be.”
Perhaps so, but if presenting was all about amiable chatting and amusing conversation Ted would be a shoe-in for the role. Geeky, smart and a little eccentric. He’s just your typical F1 fan, really.