Sky F1 broadcaster on the easiest driver to work with during F1 career

Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez speaking with a serious Sebastian Vettel during a press conference. Silverstone July 2022 Sky F1

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez speaking with a serious Sebastian Vettel during a press conference. Silverstone July 2022

Sky F1 broadcaster and former F1 strategist Bernie Collins has selected Sebastian Vettel as the easiest to work with during her time in the sport.

Having left her role as strategist for the Aston Martin F1 team, Collins has switched disciplines for 2023 as she is now part of Sky Sports F1’s expert line-up for the season.

Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast during the long break between the Australian and Azerbaijan Grands Prix, Collins was asked about her time working as a strategist and to talk about the drivers she has worked with during her near-decade in the sport.

During her years with Force India and Racing Point, Collins worked with the likes of Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, and Lance Stroll.

With a question coming in for Collins to ask about her favourite driver and ‘why was it Jenson Button?’, Collins laughed and said she had not had the chance to work for long enough with the 2009 World Champion as she joined McLaren’s F1 operations in 2014.

Bernie Collins: Sebastian Vettel was the driver I was friendliest with

“I can’t say Jenson! The unfortunate thing with Jenson is I only worked with him for the one year at McLaren,” she said.

“I worked with him in 2014. I really enjoyed that because I was learning so much and Jenson, at that stage, had loads of time to teach me stuff.

“So it was a really interesting dynamic, but it only was the one year. Obviously, I’ll get a chance to work with him again soon, hopefully, at Sky, so I’m really looking forward to that.

“I think the drivers have all been really different characters for various reasons. I’ve really enjoyed a lot of what they brought.”

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Asked to pick out which driver she had had the closest relationship with, Collins pointed to her, and his, last two years working in the sport.

“The person probably that I was the friendliest with was maybe Sebastian, last year, and, again, that’s the stage he was in his career. It was really nice to have that friendship,” she said.

“I think he was quite relaxed. I think the car wasn’t as good as we would have hoped through that time, so it was more of a learning process across us, what we could improve, and the other aspects of it.

“So it wasn’t necessarily the pressure of ‘we’re going to try and get a podium every week’ because we weren’t in that position. I think he’s been there, done that. So I felt like the pressure was off a little bit, in that relationship.”

Bernie Collins reveals initial apprehension about working with Sebastian Vettel

With Vettel arriving to the Silverstone-based squad just as they rebranded to Aston Martin from Racing Point, Collins admitted she had been initially quite nervous about the four-time World Champion joining the team.

“When he was first joining the team obviously, we’d had years listening to Sebastian at Ferrari questioning the strategy, arguing the strategy, whatever,” she said.

“So I was a bit apprehensive when he joined of how hard he was going to be to work with. And actually, then I was pleasantly surprised.

“But I think the funny thing was drivers is, generally on a Thursday or Friday, they’re not too bothered with the strategists. Then by Saturday night, Sunday, you become the most important person in the room, and everyone wants to talk to you, both drivers want to talk to you, and both drivers are interested in their strategies.

“So I would say, Sebastian definitely spent a lot of time in it himself. He would come up with ‘Oh, there was a race in 2000 and whenever where this happened, go and have a look at that one’, and I’d go away and research that race.

“He knows a lot more historically than I would know. But I think all of the drivers are so involved in their strategy on Sunday morning, much more than people in the outside world maybe see.

“He was really good straightaway. He was really open to the ideas that the team had. I sort of expected, you know, Racing Point, Force India, whatever, when he came from Ferrari, I thought, ‘Here’s someone who’s four-time world champion coming to a team lower down the grid’.

“Fewer resources, we have fewer people on the ground, fewer in the strategy department, etc, etc. Is he gonna really be thinking ‘Oh, these guys are joking about’. But actually, he was really open to our ideas and our perception of things.

“I guess, over the years, we had had podiums when we shouldn’t have had, we’d had good results really that we shouldn’t have had. So I guess he’d taken that on board as ‘these guys know what they’re doing’.

“So I want to take some of their ideas and input some of my own so it was much more interaction between both sides of trying to get the best from both ideas that I thought it was gonna be. So yeah, it was quite quickly very easy. You’re never too old to learn, every day’s a school day!”