Sky F1 presenter Federica Masolin opens up on ‘suffering’ after sexism storm after Valsecchi exit

Oliver Harden
A Sky Sports microphone in the grip of a presenter's hand

Sky Sports is arguably F1's biggest broadcaster

Federica Masolin, the former Sky F1 presenter in Italy, has opened up on her own “suffering” during the sexism row involving colleagues Davide Valsecchi and Matteo Bobbi in 2023.

Valsecchi and Bobbi were suspended by Sky F1’s Italian branch last year after making sexist comments on air during the broadcaster’s live coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix, with the pair returning to work four weeks later at the Austrian GP.

Sky F1 presenter reflects on sexism row

Bobbi had drawn Valsecchi’s attention to a woman stood behind him and Masolin in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya paddock and described her as an “upgrade package.”

After turning to look at the woman, Valsecchi replied: “I know, but they told me I can’t test them. So I raise my hands.”

Valsecchi announced last month that he will not be part of Sky Italia’s F1 coverage in 2024, while Masolin has stepped away from F1 after 10 years to front the broadcaster’s coverage of football’s Champions League.

The pair have been replaced for the new season by Davide Camicioli and Vicky Piria, the former W Series driver. recommends

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Appearing on the The BSMT by Gianluca Gazzoli podcast, Masolin has revealed she “suffered” in the aftermath of the sexism row, claiming Valsecchi and Bobbi – who continues to feature in Sky’s F1 coverage – did not “deserve all this fuss” as their comments were made with “no malice.”

She said: “How did I experience it? Not very well [in] the aftermath, in the sense that I didn’t think all this fuss could have been triggered.

“The truth is that I know them very well, both Matteo and Davide. I love them both very much.

“Davide is my brother, the messy one, the one you always have to keep in line. Matteo is such a nice guy, so proper, that I actually didn’t perceive it at the time as an offence to the female gender.

“I am a girl, so long from me being offended. But there and then I said, guys go ahead, give me something. I know them well and I know there was no malice or desire to go further.

“The sensitivities of others we don’t know, so then they apologised of course. But it was a lightness dictated by the fact that as we said before we are a group of friends, we are a family.

“When you do so many hours of live broadcasting then maybe you get to the end, it was really the end of the live broadcast of a very long day.

“It was far from a disparaging phrase. It was a bar phrase, if you like, something you want to let loose with your friends and you do if you are in the total confidence of the moment.

“I suffered for them. I suffered because I said: ‘They don’t deserve this. They don’t deserve all this fuss.'”

Both men issued public apologies at the time for his on-air remarks with Valsecchi, who emerged as a popular commentator after winning the GP2 (now F2) title in 2012, writing on Instagram: “I’m very sorry because, on Sunday, after the race, I exchanged some jokes that were in bad taste and used inappropriate and disrespectful words. And I’m not like this.

“I would really like to apologise to those who felt offended, to women and to Sky.”

Bobbi, meanwhile, took to Twitter, stating: “On Sunday in the post-race I was the protagonist of a joke that came out in a completely unhappy way, although it was not my intention. I created an unpleasant moment that upset some people.

“I ended up in the gravel.

“Being anything but a disrespectful person, I sincerely apologise to those who felt offended by it.

“I reiterated my total and deep respect for all women and in particular starting with the woman I have next to me.

“For 10 years I have been commentating on F1 with Sky friends, a family now, and in 10 years I have never found myself in such an unpleasant situation.

“I’ve always thought that from mistakes you learn and start again. What happened will me to try to improve further as a man and as a professional.”

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