Johnny Herbert recalls Max Verstappen boycott and having to ‘tread carefully’ at Sky

Mark Scott
Johnny Herbert in the Formula 1 paddock. Italy, September 2017.

Former driver, now pundit Johnny Herbert in the Formula 1 paddock. Italy, September 2017.

Former Sky F1 pundit Johnny Herbert has spoken of the need to “tread carefully” when sharing opinions on live broadcast due to fear of upsetting the teams.

Herbert, who was a three-time race winner with 160 F1 starts to his name before swapping car for microphone, was released by Sky F1 at the end of 2022 campaign after over a decade with the UK broadcaster.

Since then, Herbert has started to lift the lid on life as a Sky F1 pundit and has recently discussed the delicate relationship that exists between the F1 media and the teams.

That very relationship was thrust firmly into the spotlight in the latter stages of the 2022 campaign where World Champion Max Verstappen enforced a boycott on Sky F1 at the Mexican Grand Prix, both he and the Red Bull team refusing to speak to them due to continued disrespectful comments made about the controversial nature of his 2021 title win in Abu Dhabi.

The boycott ended quickly but it gave all broadcasters a reminder of what the consequences are if a pundit or broadcaster overstep the mark.’s recommended reading

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“I was always free to express what I wanted but if everybody said on TV on Channel 4 or Sky, or anyone, if you sort of had a bit of a go at a team they will get upset,” Herbert said in an interview with The Express.

“And if they get upset there’s always a chance, like we saw with Max, ‘oh we’re not going to do it with you because you said that’. That’s where you sort of have to sometimes tread carefully.

“But it’s understandable. I always remember when I was racing there were sometimes things said which upset you and then you probably never spoke to that journalist maybe for a couple of races or more.”

“So I get it, but when it’s down to a team, I always think you should be able to be as outspoken as you want to be in certain situations.

Herbert, who has continued with F1 punditry work and co-hosts the ‘Lift The Lid’ podcast with Billy Monger, is of the opinion that he didn’t hold back on his thoughts when big talking points came up during a Formula 1 season.

“I always thought I was fairly outspoken on certain issues that came up. I never thought you should shy away from them.

“Some people don’t want to upset a certain person within a team because they sort of had a relationship.

“And you sort of think it shouldn’t be about your relationship, it should be about what you see and what you hear from fans.”