Naomi Schiff a welcome addition to Sky’s Formula One team – not having her at Saudi Arabian GP was a mistake

From diversity, modernity and striving for progress, we turn to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Schiff was not on the presenter roster for this fixture, a missed opportunity perhaps for Sky to capitalise on her emergence, but then the Jeddah event was already so full of intrigue and stories that whoever was presenting was going to have plenty to get their teeth into. The morality of even having sporting events in such places has been well covered, and if that atmosphere was not febrile enough, there was a Yemeni Houthi attack on a Saudi oil depot just miles from the event. Extraordinary, really, to be doing big-time sport against that backdrop.

It is hard not to feel sorry for sportspeople when they are expected to show the sort of moral leadership on issues that politicians dodge, but given the indivisible nature of power, money, the state, sport, human rights and a national publicity campaign in Saudi, it was hard to agree with Jenson Button when he said: “It’s an attack on their oil reserves, it’s not an attack on us.” Splashed everywhere around the circuit: billboards for Aramco.

There is no sifting the money and the politics from sport if you are going to have them in such settings, but Sky has generally done a pretty even-handed job, or at least tried to offset the Potemkin village vibe where possible. On to the third grand prix of the season in (checks notes) Mordor, then, but wherever it may be, the coverage will certainly be improved by the return of Schiff.

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