Motorsport Pro Naomi Schiff Joins Sky Sports F1 As Presenter
The Belgian-born South African racer joined Sky Sports F1 this year as a new presenter, and immediately made a splash with the announcement of a new YouTube show streaming Mondays after race weekends. Any Driven Monday pairs Schiff with co-presenter Matt Baker, discussing F2, F3, and IndyCar in addition to Formula 1. Schiff also got to sit down for an interview with Lewis Hamilton ahead of the 2022 season, digging deep into last year’s tension with reigning World Champion Max Verstappen. So, how did a broadcast rookie end up with such an enviable seat at the table?
By being an accomplished driver in her own right. As a 16-year-old, Schiff began her career in South Africa’s Formula Volkswagen Championship, moving on to win multiple championship titles before placing second in her class at the 2018 24 Hours of Nurburgring. It’s no wonder that Schiff was then selected to compete in the inaugural all-female W Series championship in 2019.
In 2020, after failing to qualify for the next W Series championship, Schiff was instead appointed as the Series’ Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador. In this role, she was able to turn a career disappointment into an accomplishment, helping to spread the word about the opportunity presented by the W Series while attracting competitors from around the world. These are definitely skills that come in handy when you’re reporting at the U.K.’s biggest sports platform, at a time when F1’s fan base is growing more diverse than ever.
In recent years, the popularity of Netflix’s F1 docuseries Drive to Survive has attracted a huge global audience of new fans to the sport, but coverage on platforms like Sky has been slow to catch up. The recent viral moment showing longtime Sky commentator Martin Brundle confusing Paolo Banchero with Patrick Mahomes shows that the old guard may not be as skilled at creating organic, web-ready moments with interview subjects (a kind of authenticity that Drive to Survive viewers have come to expect). Meanwhile, fans have praised Schiff’s coverage as a breath of “fresh air,” and her handling of the Hamilton interview proves that she can stay cool while asking tough questions.
And there’s perhaps no one better to bring diversity to F1 coverage than an experienced racer like Schiff, who – like world champ Max Verstappen – was born in Belgium to a multi-national family. Her Rwandan heritage and South African upbringing give her a unique perspective on motorsports, especially given the popularity of African street racing scenes like spinning. In a rapidly changing sport, it’s the kind of perspective that could drive F1 to thrive – not just survive – in the days that lie ahead.
Related: Women in Motorsports Today: A Few of the Best in the U.S.
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