Suzi Perry: “You can be saying hello and welcome and the whole show changes in your ear”

“I’ve loved motorsport since I was a child,” says Suzi Perry, reminiscing on how her passion first evolved. “It was always on at the weekends at home and I loved it. The passion for getting involved came in my early twenties when I took my bike license and my friends at the time were all bikers.”

Suzi Perry is a household name as far as presenting motorsports go. Her impeccable knowledge and love for all things two and four wheeled has enabled her to work in the MotoGP and Formula 1 paddocks for well over a decade.

“We used to go to British Superbike races and we used to watch it obsessively on TV,” she says. “It became ‘why don’t we do this’ and ‘why don’t we do that ‘and my friends would say ‘why don’t you go on television and do it yourself!’.”

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Photograph credit: SuziPerry.com

And that is how it happened. Having discovered this immense love, Suzi acted on it and made a phone call of a lifetime. “I called Sky, who at the time had the rights to the World Superbike Championship,” she says. “I called them for a chat, ended up going in and walked out with a reporter’s job in 1997. It was an extraordinary start to a career!”

Like anyone who has landed their dream job, Suzi remembers the immense feeling of joy and excitement.

“I remember walking out of the Sky offices in Middlesex and I just couldn’t wait to get on the phone and ring my parents,” she says. “I was beside myself with ecstasy. I just couldn’t believe that they’d offered me a job and that I would be working with bikes and on television. It was like someone had just told me that I’d won the lottery, but it was better than that. It’s gone on for 22 plus years.”

Since then, Suzi’s career has gone from strength to strength and even meant her hosting the most popular motorsport in the world for BBC 1.

“The moment I got a call asking me to do F1 was another defining moment,” she says. “It’s an enduring love that will never go away. It’s hard work, bloody hard work, but I love it. A lot of energy and work goes into a broadcast, despite talking about something you love.”

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Suzi with Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, her two co-presenters for BBC F1. Photo credit: BBC

Although Suzi has worked in motorsport for over 22 years, the rush of excitement never disappears and that is the “beauty of live sport”, according to the presenter .

“It’s a combination of, I wouldn’t say nerves because I’ve done it for a long time, but there’s certainly excitement before and few deep breaths before the ‘hello and welcome’,” she says. “It’s great to have that buzz. I never turn up thinking ‘oh gosh, here we go again’. It’s always my life.”

One of the highlights for Suzi now is presenting with friends, which is a dream scenario for most people

“I’m at a stage where I’m working with my friends, the guys that I interviewed twenty years ago,” she says. “It’s heaven, it really is. No one has an agenda. I can honestly say that I’m in a team that pulls together, instead of one that pulls apart.”

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Photograph credit: Peter Fox

But, of course, there is always the tricky moments live on air. As Suzi explains, live broadcasts rarely run as planned despite rehearsal.

“You can be saying hello and welcome and the whole show changes in your ear,” she says. “Sometimes you haven’t even got to the end of your sentence and something has happened. That’s the beauty of live sport.”

Suzi compares her job to news broadcasting, because of its ever changing nature: “There’s nothing like doing live sport, except, now this might sound strange, but news broadcasting. You have to be instinctive and have your wits completely about you and be a hundred percent. You try to be completely switched on all of the time when you’re broadcasting because anything can happen.”

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Photograph credit: Mike Lawn

One of the most spectacular MotoGP races to date was in Argentina which took place in April. Although Suzi wasn’t there that weekend, she watched it unfold on television. Races this that are the ones where you bring all of your previous knowledge together to make a seamless broadcast for the viewers at home.

“It was something you don’t see very often, so you have to pull on all of your knowledge and wisdom,” she says. “As a presenter it’s not your job to give opinion, it’s your job to ask the right questions to your experts who are standing next to you. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what you feel, you just have to contain the passion in those situations and ask the right questions. That can be tricky sometimes, but when you’re surrounded by the right people, it’s good. It’s a wonderful job and I love it, but there are times when it’s quite difficult. “

Rosanna Tennant: “Working in F1 doesn’t feel like a job”

Meet Rosanna Tennant, someone who knows what it’s like to work your way towards the top of the motorsport media career ladder from the very bottom! After a successful spell with the YouTube channel Pole Position, her role as a presenter quickly developed. Now, as a presenter and host for Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, she is becoming an increasingly familiar face.

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Rosanna presenting with Johnny Herbert, accompanied by Nico Rosberg. Credit: LAT Images

Rosanna works for a sports marketing agency based in London called Influence Sports & Media, and it is through them that she works with the Mercedes F1 team.

“My role involves working with the Team to come up with ideas in and around what they do at the factory and races,” she says. “That then crosses over to filming with the Drivers and the Team’s Technical Partners, as well as Senior Management and Team members from different departments. Sometimes I present those pieces and sometimes I take more of a producer role. Then when they want a live event hosted, I’ll host that as well.”

Therefore, Rosanna understands working with brands and what they tend to look for when it comes to generating content.

“It’s making fun and engaging content, but never overstepping the mark, especially when you are working with global brands with rigorous brand guidelines. It’s all about attention to detail; things must always be well thought through.”

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Credit: LAT Images

In addition, Rosanna also works for F1 in Schools and 4×4 in Schools, hosting events for them. Perhaps, though, she is best known for working directly for Formula 1, helping them with the content they produce.

“I present their social media and digital clips, and am also part of the team that creates content in the Fan Village over race weekends,” she says. “I’ll host things like the Formula 1 Fan Forum either on my own or with a co-host such as Johnny Herbert. It’s brilliant being able to engage with the fans and the Drivers – the Drivers are always in such good spirits because the fans are there. I also do interviews in the Formula 1 Paddock over the course of the weekend.”

These events are non-stop and require you to think on your feet, especially when hosting on stage for hours at a time without a script! All this is a good learning experience, according to Rosanna.

“It’s definitely been a great learning experience,” she says. “It’s made me better at live presenting, as you just have to go with it. The adrenaline is always quite high as you never know what might be coming next. Sometimes there’s a delay and you just have to fill a gap for ten minutes chatting to the camera or the audience!”

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Rosanna with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton

Unsurprisingly, this all equates to one busy schedule, but Rosanna sees that as a positive thing.

“With Formula 1 you work weekends so you’re away from home a lot, but I’ve always wanted to do this kind of thing so I appreciate every single moment. For me, being busy is great and I’m lucky to be able to say I absolutely love my job. I never feel like I’m dragging my feet to go to the office. The moment I feel like that I need to change career path!”

One of Rosanna’s iconic moments came when she interviewed Lewis Hamilton as he took her for a hot lap around Sepang International Circuit. The video was circulated all over social media and has had well over six million views.

“We did an interview, if you can call it that!” Rosanna explains. “It’s great to have the insight of what goes on within the Team. I’ve learned lots and it’s helped me develop a strong working relationship with Lewis, Valtteri and Toto.”

In 2016 Rosanna hosted Mercedes’ Paddock hospitality at Formula 1 races, which kept her in the sport’s environment on a regular basis.

“I was interviewing the Team’s drivers on almost every race weekend,” she said. “It helped me stay close to the sport and the people within the sport. That obviously helps you keep abreast of new opportunities, you don’t necessarily hear about them first, but you do hear about them.”

Despite Rosanna working for one of the most influential names in sport, there are still restrictions with the content that can be published. With this, an eye for creativity is formed, which is why Rosanna is so successful at what she does.

“When creating YouTube content related to F1 you really have to think outside of the box as you don’t have access to much footage due to copyright laws,” she says. “At Pole Position, we were very limited with what we could show but we soon became pretty savvy making creative videos without track footage.”

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Despite the challenges faced at Pole Position, Rosanna feels she learnt the tricks of the trade during her early days there.

“I was 25 when I started hosting Pole Position,” she said. “I knew nothing about motor sport and had to really summon up my self-confidence in the beginning. It was a steep learning curve. Some of the YouTube content at the time was quite aggressive and I made the decision not to follow that trend. For some YouTubers that works for their brand but that style wasn’t and still isn’t right for me. I never knew where Pole Position would take me; you never want to look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t said that!’”