The BBC has confirmed the names that will form its new-look Formula 1 team for the 2012 season.
Following the high-profile departures of commentator Martin Brundle and pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz to Sky Sports, the corporation has found two experienced replacements to fill those roles.
As reported in December, Ben Edwards will partner David Coulthard in the commentary box, while technical analysis and expertise will be provided by former F1 technical director Gary Anderson.
Edwards has more than 20 years of broadcasting experience having commentated on various international championships, including F1 for Eurosport in 1995-6 and Sky’s F1 Digital+ channel in 2002.
He has also covered A1 Grand Prix for Sky, the Champ Car series for Eurosport and ESPN and has been ITV’s voice of the British Touring Car Championship for the past decade.
Edwards told BBC Sport: “I’m thrilled to be joining the BBC F1 team. It’s a dream come true to be broadcasting from grands prix all over the world with such a prestigious broadcaster and such a talented group of people.
“My first stint as commentator coincided with David Coulthard’s first season in F1 as a driver, so I am relishing the opportunity to work with him now in conveying the drama, excitement and passion that is wrapped up in each and every event.
“The prospects for the 2012 season are tremendous, with Lewis Hamilton out for revenge, Ferrari determined to give Fernando Alonso a car worthy of him and Sebastian Vettel attempting to become only the third driver in history to score a hat-trick of titles.”
Also joining the BBC TV team is former technical director Gary Anderson, who will provide technical analysis and insights from the pit-lane and paddock.
Anderson’s career in motorsport spans more than four decades. He was Brabham’s chief mechanic in the late 1970s, before moving on to McLaren, and then designing cars in other areas of motorsport.
He then linked up with Eddie Jordan’s fledgling Formula 1 team for their debut F1 season in 1991.
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A 13-year career as a distinguished F1 technical director followed, starting with Jordan before moving on to Stewart in 1999 and Jaguar the following year, before a second spell with Jordan leaving the team at the end of the 2003 season.
Since leaving the engineering side of the sport, Anderson has become a respected journalist and has featured on both RTE and Setanta Sports’ F1 coverage in Ireland as a commentator and pit-lane reporter.
Anchor Jake Humphrey returns to lead the BBC’s award-winning F1 coverage for a fourth successive year, and will be joined once again by regular pundits Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, with Lee McKenzie conducting interviews with the drivers and key team personel in the paddock.
Elsewhere in the BBC’s Formula 1 operation, Jennie Gow joins its radio team as a pit-lane reporter, a role she filled as a stand-in for Natalie Pinkham at last season’s Canadian and Hungarian Grands Prix.
She fronted the BBC’s coverage of MotoGP in 2010, and prior to that she presented various motorsport programmes on Channel 4 and Sky Sports.
Gow will link up with new 5 Live F1 correspondent James Allen, who was confirmed as David Croft’s replacement as the station’s lead commentator for its live coverage of all 20 races in 2012.
Allen has worked in F1 for over 20 years, as was part of ITV’s coverage for each of the 12 years it broadcast the sport between 1997 and 2008.
Having been the broadcaster’s pit-lane reporter for the first four seasons, Allen was chosen to replace the legendary Murray Walker as lead commentator alongside Martin Brundle in 2001, a role which he retained right to the end of ITV’s association with the sport.
He was behind the microphone for the closing laps of the thrilling 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton became World Champion, and received an Autosport Award for his commentary on the race.
Ben Gallop, the BBC’s head of F1, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Ben, James, Gary and Jennie to the BBC presentation team.
“They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge as well as huge passion for the sport that will help bring the season to life for our audiences on TV, radio and online.”
Allen wrote on his official website last week: “I’m delighted to announce that I am joining the BBC Radio 5 Live team. It’s a great institution and I’m proud to be part of it.
“Anyone who has followed my career knows I love a challenge; whether it’s taking over from Murray Walker, setting up this website, or creating the first F1 fans forums. I’ve never done radio before and I’m really looking forward to adapting to a new medium.
“This is a time of significant change in our industry and I see great opportunity here, thanks to the unique place Radio 5 Live has in this sport.”
BBC TV will screen ten live races in 2012 and extended highlights of the other ten events, while Sky will screen every session from each grand prix live throughout the season on a dedicated Formula 1 channel, as part of a controversial seven-year deal announced last year.
Martin Brundle, who stepped up to the lead BBC commentary position at the beginning of the 2011 season, confirmed that he would switch to Sky Sports for 2012, citing the fact that the pay-TV broadcaster will screen every race live and uninterrupted as one of the key factors in making the switch.
Four other key BBC personel, including the entire BBC Radio 5 Live commentary team, followed Brundle in defecting across to the new Sky operation, which launches in March.
More details to follow…