Martin Brundle strikes back with Oscar Piastri snub at Singapore Grand Prix

Martin Brundle snubs Oscar Piastri mid-interview in Singapore
Martin Brundle snubs Oscar Piastri mid-interview in Singapore - Sky Sports

The best F1 race of the season, and an excellent showcase for one of the best all-round sports packages on telly at the moment, Sky’s coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix had a bit of everything and was the stand-out sporting TV event of the weekend.

Where several televised sports have struggled, painfully, to find a balance between keeping faith with the old blokes that viewers are comfortable with and introducing more diverse, fresher faces, Sky’s F1 programming provides a fine spread.

The coverage for Sunday’s main event was helmed by agreeable, reliable Simon Lazenby with an expert pundit trio of Bernie Collins, the Northern Irishwoman who was strategy engineer for Aston Martin; Karun Chandhok, the Indian former Lotus-Renault driver; and American Danica Patrick, of Nascar and IndyCar fame.

The analysis from Collins and Chandhok is informed and snappy, while Patrick brings a certain sort of wildcard energy to proceedings, a Roy Keane in a dress, if that’s not enough to put you off your breakfast. Her presence carries a strong suggestion that she might say something bananas at any moment. This weekend, Patrick managed to pivot from talking about training drivers on computers to musing about whether all human life is, like, lived in a simulation. You don’t get that with your Damon Hills.

Danica Patrick interviews Max Verstappen for Sky Sport F1 at the Singapore Grand Prix
Danica Patrick interviews Max Verstappen for Sky Sports at the Singapore Grand Prix - Sky Sports

Patrick looks a handful but is only ever going to be on the minor podium places for eccentric racing presenters while the unique Martin Brundle has petrol in the tank. The great man had another tremendous afternoon with his legendary gridwalk.

A few weeks ago he had a strop because Cara Delevingne was, in Martin’s view, insufficiently thrilled to be interviewed by him while he made his rounds at Silverstone. An absolute mystery as to why the millionaire supermodel proved a difficult get, but Martin is not one to let a little public humiliation bring him down, and this weekend, he turned the tables on these so-called stars.

Grabbing Oscar Piastri a few minutes before the race, Martin lured the Aussie driver in, and then cut the poor lad off at the knees.

Brundle: “Oscar: tough quali, how’s the race gonna be?”

Piastri: “Yeah, we’ve…”

Brundle, spotting someone more interesting (Esteban Ocon) to talk to: “ESTEBAN! ESTEBAN!”

Piastri: wanders off, wounded.

Assuming that Martin doesn’t hurt the competitors’ feelings irreparably, the Sky programming will continue to make excellent use of the enviable access with the drivers. It helps that they are all smart, multilingual and comfortable on camera: either the racers are happy talking with the media, or they know which side their bread is buttered well enough to slap on a smile and get through it.

Reporter Ted Kravitz did a cute video package with Thai-British Williams driver Alex Albon, eating street food in Singapore markets and going to Thailand to do some outreach with kids. Liam Lawson talked tactics with Chandhok. The post-race interviews are honest and often revealing. Having Brundle and Kravitz be allowed to just wander around and chat with the key players brings the viewer right into the action. The Red Button option to have children’s TV coverage speaks to a canny eye on the next generation of fans.

There’s no doubt that the Netflix Drive To Survive series has opened this sport up in terms of the personalities and the stories; the days when it was some unknown quantities in helmets driving round and round while Murray Walker shouted at you are thankfully gone.

Sky’s on-air team has a good blend of the familiar and the fresh and, like with the NFL or Major League Baseball, there’s the advantage that everyone involved is invested in the product, i.e. the furtherance of Formula 1.

The obvious downside is that the sport’s broadcast media is not motivated to challenge the governing body, be it from the environmental angle or the “we’ll happily hold the next race in Hades if the money’s right, Mr Satan is trying to modernise things from the inside there” angle.

It’s not quite in-house TV just yet but you can imagine that would suit all parties if it does go that way. In the meantime, fans have a sport that is as well covered as it has ever been.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.