Lee McKenzie has been a leading figure in the F1 paddock for many years now. In this exclusive interview for Overtake Motorsport, we get a sense of Lee’s role and her experiences in the paddock.
Lee’s journalistic career began at an early age, providing club rugby reports to her local newspaper, aged just 15. Shadowing her father, also a sporting journalist, Lee built up the knowledge and passion which placed her in the career she is in today. “I always have been involved in sport and Fleet Street journalism through my family. I always knew this was the plan, not on TV but writing initially which I still love.”
Most Overtake Motorsport readers will know Lee solely as a Formula 1 commentator, but her job has, and continues to, involves all manner of events.
“People see me as a Motorsport person but I started as a news journalist which is what everyone should do, no matter where you want to end up. I covered the Lockerbie Trial, general elections etc. A journalist needs to be experienced as that with an ability to see news lines, too many are simply fans. For the last few years I have missed F1 races to cover other sports. I love Wimbledon and rugby and they would be my favourites. Events like the Olympics, commonwealth games are incredible events too.”
But as for her motorsport career, Lee plays a vital role within the Channel 4 presenting team, taking
the role as pit lane reporter. “There is no such thing as an average day,” Lee told us when discussing her job. “Thursday is the day to get all the driver interviews done. Every Thursday afternoon is split into 10 minute blocks and all journalists get to speak to the drivers.” If the coverage is live, Lee will present all three practise sessions, before returning to the pitlane for drivers interviews during qualifying. “Sunday is by far the easiest day and takes care of its self!”
When asked what, if anything, surprises Lee about her career, she simply replies by saying “you have to be prepared for anything in live TV!”
This lead me to question if this always Lee’s career aim, or did she fall into thanks to her family’s
involvement? It would seem both are true! “I have been in the F1 paddock since I was in my early teens so I am very used to that environment. I also started as a journalist, writing for local newspapers when I was 15! I did go to uni but continued to work in newspapers during that whole experience.”
So I ended my interview the way I end them all, asking Lee which three Motorsport figures she would invite to a fantasy dinner party.
“Senna – I never met him but my Dad knew him and was at the funeral. I know the Senna family so would love to have met Ayrton.
Jim Clark – a humble man by all accounts and would love to have met him. So different to today’s drivers!
Seb – always great fun, intelligent and good company. If I have no chat with the others then I could chat to him although he would have plenty to talk about with those two!”
Lee will be back in action, alongside her Channel 4 comrades, when F1 returns from the summer break, in Spa-Francorchamps on the 27th of August.
Feature Image Credit: Lee Mckenzie’s Website