Ted is speaking about cheese. For a Formula 1 pit lane reporter functioning in a world of tyre compounds and ground specs, Ted usually finds himself speaking about cheese. Usually at pre-season testing. A weird synonymity, some would possibly say, and readers not drooling within the each day churn of digital F1 content material could also be a bit of misplaced already. Don’t fear, you’re forgiven.
Sky Sports’ ever-present pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz – of BBC and ITV earlier than that – has a method of presenting so inimitable that the person himself has fashioned a faithful following of his personal, hate it as he would possibly. Ahead of his 22nd yr of pit lane reporting and 27th working within the sport he loves, Ted’s methodology of fan interplay is continually evolving. This yr, neglect TikTok: it’s all about TedTok. So, again to the cheese.
“TedTok was just too good for somebody to steal,” the 48-year-old tells The Independent, within the unusually formal setting for him of an workplace at Sky Studios. “So I’m just going to put nonsense about doing stuff with cheese on there.
“I put up a video of me and Anthony [Davidson] choosing the perfect cheese in Bahrain to carve away the venturi tunnels of the car to the floor edge… it’s harder than you think.
“You could have got a block of cheddar, but then it would’ve just crumbled away and the whole shoot would’ve been a disaster. This was 20 minutes and Anthony was quite right in choosing the right type of cheese… gouda!”
And there you could have it. The finish consequence, Kravitz detailing the modifications within the underside of this yr’s automobile with a barely bemused technical director of AlphaTauri Jody Egginton, is viewable to all on YouTube.
Kravitz’s distinctive use of cheese in broadcasting began two years in the past in an interview with Sebastian Vettel however is one instance of how, generally unbeknownst to the person himself, he makes the intricacies of physics and mechanical design a viewable commodity to the common sports activities fan. No imply feat, it should be mentioned, in a world the place F1 is ever-growing and attracting new audiences.
What has additionally taken on a lifetime of its personal in recent times is his Notebook function on Sky. It began out as a written column for the outdated ITV Sport web site within the noughties, developed into a brief video phase for BBC Sport and now has its personal 30-minute timeslot on Sky after qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Recorded in probably the most distinctive of improvised fashions, multi functional take, it’s a lesson in filling air time with unearthed element on each driver and each workforce.
“Only if there’s something really un-broadcastable do we edit it,” Kravitz reveals. “There was a kid in the paddock who flicked the V signs in front of the camera one race, so we had to redo that. But usually it is the livest of live. And there is a thrill about that.
“Last year I apparently caught the moment that Williams was signing the deal with James Vowles to be their team principal! Not the best scoop in the world, it happened without me even noticing, but that’s what people at home like – you get a real behind-the-scenes view of the paddock.
“Once it’s live we never stop, even if I fluff the opening link. It’s unpredictable and whatever happens, happens.”
Like when Ted and his cameraman stroll down an upwards shifting escalator in Miami. Or when he drinks from his shoe amid a rapturous group of followers in Melbourne. Moments which have turn out to be iconic, virtually as a lot as the person himself in F1sphere. A fan banner emblazoned with ‘Hi Ted’ at Silverstone symbolises that. Not that he likes it.
Asked what he makes of a recognition now simple, he replies: “I’m just a schlub in shorts as my grandmother might call me! It makes my toes curl hearing you say that.
“I don’t want to think about it. I appreciate it if people like what I do. I just tell the stories like it is and how I see it – and if that gets me into a scrape here or there, that’s part of the game too.”
Indeed. Last yr, for instance, Christian Horner and his Red Bull workforce boycotted Sky on account of what Kravitz implied in his Notebook function, talking about Lewis Hamilton being “robbed” of an eighth World Championship after the controversy in Abu Dhabi in 2021, which noticed Max Verstappen win his inaugural crown.
Nowadays, for all of the adulation, normally comes criticism too.
“People can misinterpret or not like what I say, but I’ll always say things the way I see them and how a reasonable F1 fan might see things,” he says.
“They might not like that. But if you’re true to yourself and accurate – I will always correct myself if not. But I think people mostly like it and that’s fine. I get embarrassed by it all to be honest.”
Peculiar, you would possibly suppose, for a presenter who has no drawback filling voids on the field to be so uncomfortable within the highlight. But it factors to how he views his position and the significance of it: a journalist, with unprecedented entry, eager to offer Sky’s prospects the complete grand prix weekend expertise.
“This is depressing reading but it’s my 22nd year in the same job,” he tells. “Anybody might look at that and say, you haven’t had much career progression have you?
“But I love the job I have. I work very hard to try and get the best and most timely information to my viewers and give them the best experience possible with as much information as possible. That’s what I get a kick out of.”
Much like a rejuvenated Fernando Alonso for Aston Martin this yr, the motivation stays sky-high as properly, in an period of never-seen-before recognition for the game.
“Murray Walker once said to me looking out the window at the end of a 24-hour flight in Australia, ‘I’m excited about this season, because Formula 1 always finds a way of reinventing itself year-after-year!’
“I thought ‘does it really Murray?’ But it’s true. The stories are always new. You might ask Lewis Hamilton, if you’re not in contention for the world championship, where do you find the motivation?
“For us in TV, we win every time we go on air if we produce a good show that our viewers are going to like – that’s us winning. If we tell the story, inform and entertain people, we’ve had a little win. If a big story happens, something amazing, that’s a big win for our viewers because I don’t want any one of our viewers to go away from the television on Sunday afternoon and find something out on a Monday that they we haven’t told them.
“New drivers, new teams, different challenges – that’s what gets me going.”
And there we’ve it. The interview concludes: 4 out of 12 questions have been answered in 25 minutes.
“Sorry for rambling on,” Kravitz says. “Your notebook there is full of questions… wait is that an A5?! Oh you need an A6 notebook – that way it fits into your back pocket like mine!”
Of course, it’s the small particulars which matter for Ted.