David Coulthard will join Andy Jaye for Channel 5’s studio coverage of the Mexico FIA Formula E race next weekend.
The former F1 racer has forged a successful broadcasting career since hanging up his race suit, regularly fronting TV coverage of F1. The Scot is also a founding partner of Whisper Films, the production company behind Channel 4’s gorgeous F1 programmes.
Now, in a landmark move for Formula E broadcasting in Britain, he’ll be bringing his trademark brand of racing insight, frank analysis and keen sense of humour to Channel 5.
“Having David Coulthard as a guest is a real line in the sand for the championship – it shows what the championship is becoming and just how ambitious Channel 5 is,” Andy Jaye, presenter of Formula E coverage on Channel 5, tells Current E today. “This is just brilliant for the sport.”
Formula E coverage in the UK has always been on free-to-view channels, starting with ITV for the first two seasons before switching to Channel 5 for season three. Guests have been a mix of technical experts and racing drivers, including former Formula E driver Jaime Alguersuari. But, arguably, none of the guests over the previous two years have had the profile or pull of Coulthard for a British audience.
“If you’re channel surfing and you see DC in the studio, you’ll probably stop to watch even if you’ve never seen Formula E before,” Jaye goes on. “It may silence some of the critics of Formula E – many of whom have probably never watched a full race – to see someone with the pedigree of DC sitting in the studio and enjoying the action.”
The appearance of DC underlines the wider shift in attitude towards Formula E from across the motor racing world. When the series first appeared, many well-known figures were quick to slight the series, predicting fast failure. Now, drivers are seeing Formula E as a viable place to spend a career and the tech development is drawing in manufacturer after manufacturer.
“DC will be here because he wants to be,” Jaye notes. “I recently talked to [former F1 racer] Mark Webber extensively about F1, WEC and Formula E – and he was full of praise for Formula E. In fact, he said there was an awful lot that F1 could learn from Formula E, both on and off the track.”
Coulthard is known for his forthright opinions as well as his diplomatic manner, which Jaye is looking forward to: “DC doesn’t need to tread carefully. Whatever he has to say comes backed up with a wealth of experience. Watching the race with him will be absolutely fascinating.”
Jaye is also keen to find out whether electric racing would appeal to Coulthard himself. “I’d love to see him in a fully competitive Formula E car, even just to see his lap times,” Jaye says. “He’s still sharp in a car. He’s quick and competitive, which he’s showed at Race of Champions. I’m sure he’s not even thinking about a return to racing but one of the things I’m desperate to ask him is: if one of the seats became available, would you have a go?”
That question – and its answer – will have to wait until next week’s programme. Don’t miss it.
The Mexico Formula E race will be shown live on Channel 5 on Saturday 1 April 2017.