Having started racing relatively late at the age of 14, Tom Gaymor enjoyed success in various different formulas before retiring after corrective back surgery in 2006. Now best-known for his work on Eurosport and BT Sport, he has also appeared on Sky Sports and ITV Sport and has commented on Formula 1, FIA WEC and the WTCC. Most recently, Tom’s voice will be familiar as the Lead Commentator on Eurosport’s coverage of World Superbikes. He’s here to give us a few tips on how we all can become better at discussing Formula 1.
The most important aspect of talking about sport is “doing your prep”, because as the saying goes, if you fail to prepare – prepare to fail. It’s so incredibly difficult to get an opportunity in broadcasting be it in vision or as a commentator so the typical tendency is to chase every opportunity and grab anything that comes your way. Missing out can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as the audience can always expose you if you’re not prepared enough and that could be a career-ending gig before it all even begins. That said you have to take calculated risk; I moved from what I knew inside out to World Superbikes, a move that certainly was not easy at the beginning and I was under pressure to deliver. Preparing well allowed me to settle in without too many hiccups. I befriended as many individuals as I could in the bike world in order to get up to speed with the terminology and the inside lines. What you do in the week leading up to the event will shape your performance. For example, in the days before a race weekend I will stay across all social media channels and monitor all the press releases. I will print out an entry list and as well as the basic stats, any interesting factors, stories, or results alongside every rider. Over a single weekend I cover Superbikes, Supersport and STK 1000 so this process takes some time. However, the final ingredient is to enjoy it; if you don’t enjoy it then no one else will.
If you don’t enjoy it then no one else will.
I have already commentated on Formula 1 for a digital project called F1 on Zume and I have also worked across GP weekends for FOM. There is a natural excitement about commentating on Formula 1 for every broadcaster, for me that was no different. I had started my racing career with aspirations of driving in Formula 1 but sadly that dream was taken away when I broke my back. I suppose looking at it now I have made it to Formula 1, albeit with a microphone and not a steering wheel in my hand. Personally I knew some of the drivers and the ones I did not know well I knew all about, so that side of things was easy. I focused my preparation on stats and interesting results or stories as well as brushing up on the history of each event and Formula 1 itself. The hardest part is the pressure you naturally feel when commentating on a world championship. The audiences are bigger and that pressure brings personal challenges around expectation. Then there is the unavoidable criticism that comes your way. Commentators can very rarely please everyone and in today’s age of social media you definitely need thick skin more than ever.
The roles around commentating and presenting are definitely changing. The days of just turning up and simply being a voice are gone. Nowadays you need to be much more of a complete package: you need to be able to write and blog, to Tweet, do live Facebook videos and so on. You really need to be able to offer more than anyone else and then be lucky with an opportunity.
If I am honest I am really enjoying being part of Eurosport’s bike coverage, I have really taken to bike racing and the personalities around the paddock. That does not mean I would not look at Formula 1 or the FIA WEC (which I already cover occasionally) in the future, but certainly for now I have my head into bikes and I am looking forward to 2017. Looking at the future I do however have certain personal goals which I would like to reach such as; Commentating on Le Mans and also being part of the Indy 500 coverage. Fingers crossed I can get these ticked off in next year or two (wink wink