Interview with Suzi Perry:” I am the first full-time female formula 1 presenter”

 

Suzi Perry is the lead presenter for MotoGP where she has been covering their motorsport portfolio.  After a career as a model, her first break into TV was as a reporter for Sky Sports in 1997, after which she presented Channel 5’s The Gadget Show for nine years. Suzi is married to Dutch businessman Bastien Boosten and has a stepdaughter, Lauriane. We caught up with the popular TV presenter at the Motor Trend On Demand event at the Royal Automobile Club in London.

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When did you first drive a car?

I used to change gears on my mum’s car as I was so desperate to drive. My parents told me to listen to the engine change, when to go up a gear and when to go down a gear so I was clear about clutch control when I began to drive, so I found learning to drive really easy.

It is evident that your passion for cars has given you the upper edge when it comes to driving?

I love cars so driving is the highlight of my day. I bought a car as soon as I was allowed and I have been lucky to drive a vast amount of vehicles throughout my life. In my twenties I passed my bike test then I learnt to ride a bike a few years later but when I told my mum that I had passed my test she dissolved into tears on the phone, and she still hates me riding a bike to this day.

What was your first car like?

It was like a tin can. It was a Ford Fiesta Popular Plus 1.1 litre, which cost £1000 and it was the type of car that could give lifts to friends, drive to the pub or sports commitments.

This type of car was the go-to for youngsters?

Yes it was but soon after it was Volkswagen Polo and then the Renault Clio as they were hatch cars. Once I remember driving on a 1-way motorway system to Leicester for a modeling job and when I arrived I could see the studio but I had no access to it. When I was younger, the Satnav did not exist so the most helpful device was the radio. My first car used to break down all of the time so my brother taught me how to hot wire incase he was not around when my car couldn’t start. I loved and hated that car in equal amounts as it drove me mad, but it was my first car so I will always love it.

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How does your first car differ from the cars you have now?

Funnily enough it is not dissimilar to the one I have now! I have driven various cars throughout the years and my favourite was the Honda S2000 as its reminiscent of a motorbike with four wheels. It had sketchy back end so if you took a roundabout too quickly on the wet you might slide, but I love the fact you have control. At home I need a car to go from A to B so I have a Fiat 500 convertible, and I like the convertible because I can take the roof off then enjoy the breeze with my music. My car is located with my house in France and my vintage T100 Bonneville motorbike is parked next to it. My dream car is the Mercedes SL.

 

The Gadget Show. Photo courtesy of Suzi Perry

Are you looking for a specific year or model?

I saw this type of car and fell in love with it when Bobby Ewing drove it on the TV show called Dallas and I thought “oh my, that car” I was eight years old at the time and I have been in love with it ever since. I love the 1978 version but I can go back to late 1960’s but when I see those cars I want to lick them. Nico Rosberg has a got a beautiful, pale blue 1970 version but he puts it on a truck and drives it to different places in France. One day I spoke to Nico and said “you know what that is really my car as I was born in 1970 and its powder blue so it would suit me more than you. Do you want to sell it?” then he said “nope, it is not up for sale.”

What type of driver are you?

 I like to get away at lights first and that stems from being a biker. My husband is such a fast driver and I think that I am safer…

Where is your favourite place to drive?


Germany is great for opening up. In terms of roads, there are some glorious roads in Cape Town, South Africa. You can drive from Cape Town to a place called Nordhook Beach at Chapmans Peak, and this is where you can experience the Atlantic weather – the landscape is picturesque, you can hear the sea and the sound of wild baboons. As the wildlife is incredible you really feel like you are somewhere slightly exotic so I recommend this area if you want to drive a set of beautiful roads.


I find it hard to beat the journey home from Niece airport when I am going to my house in France, as these roads make you feel like you are going back to the 1950’s/1960’s. The roads are nip and tuck light is and the lighting is extraordinary. The medieval villages are situated on rally roads so I am able to see the historic rally’s whilst driving home. Equally, there are some superb roads in the UK, for instance you will see a heavenly landscape in the Peak District or the Lake District.

Speaking about travel, you travelled a lot with the shows you presented on and your complexion is always looking healthy on the screen. What is your beauty reigime?

I would love to produce a cream that everybody could use for a utopia of skincare. I believe you cannot beat the classic combination of good genes, sleep and water, and my mum can is a great example of that as she looks great for her age. Some days I like my look and other days I feel the opposite when I have not slept and travelled for a while. For me, it is a lack of sleep and lots of travelling that dries my skin so hydration is vital. I use Eve Lom Cleanser and a Bio Effects serum – the serum is an Icelandic magic potion and it comes in a tiny bottle but. I have also become a huge fan of Charlotte Tilbury as her products give a great glow to the skin.

Photo courtesy of Suzi Perry.

You have been in front of the camera for most of your life – presenter, model, journalist and a corporate host. When you want to escape from work and relax with your husband, what do you do?

It can be hard to switch off when your brain is constantly ticking. I relax when I immerse myself in a box set but the unfortunate thing is, my husband and me have the opposite taste in TV so I will be watching some scanty drama whilst he is watching a mafia related show. We like to go on walks to speak about what is going on in our lives but if we do not have time then we will grab lunch together. Generally, we place all of the phones to the middle of the table and this is known as ‘phone stacking’ – my new bible – and I even make all the boys do it on Moto GP

You covered the BBC’s Formula One for 3 years and you are currently presenting for MotoGP.  Seeing as you are one of a few females to present on these programs, I wonder how you feel your gender has played a role in your career to date. Is it a challenge being a female in car shows?

 


This may sound odd but I do not know what it is like to be a man doing my job but I imagine it is the same as they have the same pressures. In 1997, I was the only woman who presented bike racing in the whole of the world and I was the first full-time female Formula 1 presenter in 2014 – this is my 22nd year broadcasting.


 

Being a female presenter is no different to being a female in a company office. Females deal with some push back but it is the way you deal with that will shape the difficulty of the situation. More specifically you decide what is ignored, what is constructive criticism and what is jealousy. Life is like being at school in the playground as you have the same bullies, the same people speaking nonsense and the same gorgeous people who are your friends. In life you have to work this out when entering into a new environment and I’m afraid that you have to pick your battles.

We have seen you as a corporate host at a number of major sporting events, including the Olympics, Wimbledon and the Royal Ascot. What does your fitness regime look like when you are not travelling?

I do not change my routine as travel most of the time but I have found a routine that works for me whilst I am travelling. If I stay at a hotel I will use the gym and a mixture of exercises, such as Pilates and Callanetics, which focus on strength work to improve muscle definition and keep you strong. I will do aerobic activities where I combine pilates with a high intensive regime for 20 minutes then I will stretch, as I have a maximum of half an hour of spare time to exercise a day this is my most popular workout. I carry my stretch band in my bag when travelling I and I always use this stretching out my calves etc. Travel is not good for fitness and age is a big issue, so I need to workout harder with each decade.

We think you look fantastic Suzi. I will prioritise stretching so I can handle those long journeys in the car.

Stretching is more important than exercise as it keeps everything in the right place so make sure you keep it up.

 

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