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 Life in the fast lane
Susanna Heath talks to Sky’s Formula One presenter, Natalie Pinkham, about her high-octane job and her love of Suffolk
Cockpit of the Ferrari F1 bolide on display at in the championship of Ukraine drifting in Lviv.2015
Having presented and been a pit lane reporter for Formula One for more than a decade, Natalie Pinkham has also become the first woman to commentate on Sky Sports F1, making her a trailblazer for female F1 fans across the country.
Deemed a boys’ club for years, the thrilling sport is evolving and we think it’s about time, too. “I think things are changing,” explains Natalie. “Probably not fast enough, but they are definitely moving in the
right direction.”
“When I first started, there weren’t any
other girls in F1. I was told by an executive at the time that a woman wouldn’t front it and I remember thinking that was an awful thing to say. There’s nothing to separate female and male presenters. The male presenters hadn’t sat in an F1 car or driven it, so why would they be any more credible talking about it?”
Discussing the changes seen since joining the Sky Sports team, Natalie is proud to have welcomed fellow female member, Naomi Schiff, who has brought an injection of new energy.
“We have to reflect the audience, and we’re nearly 50/50 in terms of men and women viewers, so we need to represent everybody. Women need to recognise they are invited into this sport.”
“I feel a genuine responsibility to encourage more ladies, and I hope to retire leaving many more women in it than when I
started. I owe that to my daughter, so that she knows she has as many opportunities as my son.”
Discussing the prospect of female drivers, Natalie is adamant that we will see them on our screens. “We have all sorts of initiatives to make that happen. An all-female W series is now live on Sky Sports and it’s getting bigger ratings than F2 and F3.”
With the British Grand Prix coming to the final weeks of its first half, F1 has never been so exciting. A fantastic line-up of British drivers, including George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, are all within grasp of winning.
“This year’s British Grand Prix is not a straightforward run in for the title,” explains Natalie. “There are a handful of drivers stepping up that are actually within a shot of a victory, and it’s making it even more exciting for the fans.”
“Mercedes have had a couple of faulty starts, but that doesn’t seem to mean much at this stage. In one race you can see them go from a struggling position to being on the podium. We all know a good Mercedes team is good for the sport, but it’s great to have our British drivers on the scene fighting for podiums.”
But when pressed for her predictions, Natalie is keeping everything close to her chest. “I’d obviously love to see the British drivers do well. We’ve got George, Lewis
and Lando and they are so talented, so popular, and such decent guys. We’ve just got this wealth of talent, probably the best ever, and any one of them can end up on the podium.”
“Red Bull is looking really fast this year, but I think that reliability is a bigger problem than we thought it would be. Until the chequered flag goes down, we don’t know who’s going to win and I think that’s great for the fans.”
Praising the British Grand Prix as one of her favourite events, this year’s visit allowed her to return to her roots. Having grown up close to Silverstone, Natalie sounded more than excited to be back. “It’s always good to be home. The British fans are the best in world. They’re so knowledgeable, so passionate, and always so friendly. There’s no edgy atmosphere – whoever fellow fans support. There’s complete respect and it’s always such a lovely energy.”
Monaco is also up there on her list. Laughing and recalling some of the wonderful visits to the French Riviera, she insists a trip had to be on everyone’s bucket list. “It’s just so unique, so special. There’s so much glamour and prestige, but take everything with a pinch of salt as there are some sights that are just out of this world. You should visit for one weekend, and one weekend only,” she advises.
So could Bury St Edmunds ever be a contender for a street circuit? Natalie does not dismiss the

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