This week I interviewed an F1 commentator, Antonios Sakalis, who follow this “hobby job” with great passion. I really wish him the best for his future carreer, full of great plans, as you will read in the interview. Thanks again for this opportunity Antonios!
1) How have you started commentating F1?
Everything started when i was 6 (in 1993). I watched my first f1 race in Greek TV. I think it was in Portugal! I was lucky to continue watching because it was close to the kids program on weekends on national TV! From 1997 i have not lost any race, just because it became to me, something like a second nature every two weekends! I started reading magazines like f1-racing, and watching classic f1 (internet video revolution had started).
Now to your question, when I finished school, I went to the university (2005). I wanted to do something for formula one in my free time, so I started my first blog! At the same time I started talking with f1 addicts in racing forums in Greece, and met the commentators, 3 years later I was asked to help them by joining the commentary team (I did that amazing job only for one season)! Unfortunately the end of my Undergraduate courses and the change on TV rights for Greece, led me quit that “dream job” (but only for a short time!)
2) How is an usual day of work as a commentator?
I am not a journalist. It doesn’t work like that. I have a normal day job, and on the racing weekends I just move to my hobby! Generally the commentator has to have his personal statistics database (I am proud of my own!), needs to know the people behind the cameras inside the teams and the Formula One circus, and to sum up needs to be the man to think and then talk. It’s much different from just writing news of motorsport site, or blogging your own ideas!
3) Which race did you enjoy commentating the most?
I enjoy commentating more on qualifyings than races! Simply because the action is packed together! I like races with rain! You can’t predict what is going to happen on the next lap. I think the race I enjoyed as a commentator was this year’s Canadian Grand Prix (commentated it for a radio live)!
4) In Italy many fans moan because the commentators show too much their “Tifosi” side; what is your favourite driver and do you prefer to hide your cheering when speaking or you don’t have problems to say it?
It’s normal in Italy commentators to support Ferrari! Here in Greece we have the battle of Ferrari vs McLaren fans! And I can tell you Greeks are not the people just to support, they get angry if they lose (even if they don’t understand details!)
I try not to open wars and conflicts, i don’t wear glasses of any color on my commentary! Well I support Ferrari, from when i was young! Because of the red color from the shirt of my favorite football team, or because Schumacher was my boyhood hero and was making miracles in 1996 with Ferrari, I will never change. But when i commentate, i tell truths, even if they pain me!
5) Do you even travel to Gps for commentating?
I have never travelled to a GP weekend. Main reason the lack of sponsorship in Greek media, the only one year of commentary in TV (where are the huge money) and of course my studies that were not allowing me to travel abroad.
But I have travelled as a simple f1 fan in Istanbul in 2006! And i really loved the experience!
6) What are your professional plans for 2012?
I live and work in the island of Lesvos, far from Athens where the capital is and every decision is taken down there. So things are a bit difficult in terms of coming back on TV.
Now i run my site ( http://totalf1.info ) where I have a team of special young f1 fans, with love on the sport working with me! We have taken license from all 12 teams of the grid to use their media sites, so everything we create is under copyright! We also take special exclusive interviews (I know a few people inside the team, and really help me!).
For 2012, there are thoughts on improving the site, with a weekly TV program (free via YouTube!), I have secured two big interviews with drivers just before the beginning of F1 testing. And I have many more ideas in my mind to figure out and try to make them work!
I guess my big plans, are coming from September 2012, I will move to Athens for my PhD on Environmental Engineering! I will try to do my best and get a seat on a commentary team for the Greek TV! (Still no one knows which channel will take the TV rights for 2012…) Wish me luck!
You can also find Antonios on Twitter at @hellasf1.