Who is Harry Benjamin? Crofty's commentary replacement at Imola

F1

David Croft will be out of the Sky Sports F1 commentary booth this weekend at Imola, with BBC 5 Live commentator Harry Benjamin stepping up to call the racing action.

Harry Benjamin 2024 Imola

Harry Benjamin: Crofty's F1 replacement

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Harry Benjamin is BBC 5 Live’s lead F1 commentator and a renowned voiceover artist who will aim to fill big shoes this weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as he steps in to replace long-term Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft.

Crofty, who has anointed almost every F1 grand prix since 2012 with his “Lights out and away we go!” trademark, announced ahead of the 2024 season that he would be missing races in Imola, Austria and Azerbaijan in an effort to “stay fresh”.

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“I’m not getting any younger,” he told the Independent. “I’ve given up and sacrificed a lot for my career. I want to give a bit of time back to my family and not be on the other side of the world. I’m getting married this year as well, so I’ve got a wedding to organise!”

Benjamin, who could kick off racing action at Imola with his “Eyes to the lights and foot to the floor!” trademark, has previously commentated on F2, F3 and Porsche Super Cup races as well as at events hosted by Ferrari, Goodwood and the A2RL, will head a depleted Sky Sports line-up at Imola with Martin Brundle also expected to be absent from the weekend.

“I’m very excited,” he said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast. “I mean, big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to it.

“What a track to do it at as well, Imola, and stood alongside Karun [in the commentary box] too. I’m honoured.”

 

Who is Harry Benjamin? 

Harry Benjamin Imola

Benjamin (right) will be joined in the commentary both at Imola by Sky Sport’s regular Karun Chandhok (left)

Harry Benjamin

The voice of Harry Benjamin is likely one you will have heard before, with the 6ft 5inch Briton having been involved in many F1-related productions since 2021.

He initially trained as an actor at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and has performed in the West End and worked on major feature films. He switched to a career in media production as early as 2019 when he became a presenter at Autosport International, before moving on to become a regular host of motorsport events  including the Intercontinental GT Challenge as well as a range of podcasts.

In May 2021 be began commentating on F1 race weekends as the lead presenter of Formula 2, Formula 3 and the Porsche Super Cup, which opened the door to more broadcasting opportunities as a voiceover artist for Arsenal FC; a main stage host at Silverstone during the 2022 British Grand Prix; a cast member of Drive to Survive from season six onwards; and as the lead commentator for the inaugural season of F1 Academy.

Since March 2022, Benjamin has led BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage of Formula 1 while also freelancing in similar roles for Sky Sports F1 — most recently co-hosting its F1 broadcast for kids in 2023 alongside some aspiring young commentators. He also made his first on-camera appearance for F1 in Bahrain, where he filled in for Tom Clarkson to host the pre-race driver interviews.

 

What will Harry Benjamin say at the start of the Imola GP?

“It’s eyes to the lights and foot to the floor as we go racing here at Imola!” are the words Harry Benjamin will likely use to kick off racing action at the Emilia Romagna GP.

Crofty’s own trademarked line — “Lights out and away we go” — has signalled the start of F1 races for well over a decade, replacing the great Murrary Walkers “Go, Go, Go!”.

 

When is Crofty coming back? 

An abundance of Taylor Swift puns and Anthony Davidson jibes are expected to return at the Monaco Grand Prix, as David Croft will make his return to the commentary booth.

“[Aside from seeking a quick refresh away from the F1 circus] I also want to sit and watch a race at home,” said the 53-year-old. “I want to enjoy it. Maybe I can learn something by not commentating on a race. I can spot a few things when I’m watching – I want to see what the viewer sees.”

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