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Zara is the most practical mom I know

Natalie Pinkham has two children, a boy and a girl, who are “like twins” because they are only 17 months apart.

Wilf and Willow, aged five and four, have miniature race cars, which comes as no surprise given that their mom is the face of Sky’s Formula 1 Racing, who have presented their report for seven years.

F1 came back after being stuck with the Austrian Grand Prix a month ago, and tomorrow’s British Grand Prix will mark its return to the UK, an important date in the sports enthusiast’s diary.

“It’s a great deal and so great to have it back. Live sport gives people a good mood, ”says Natalie.

Natalie believes that women will not progress without the support of others and says friend Zara Tindall the most practical mother she knows. On the photo: Natalie with Zara in 2011

Natalie believes that women will not progress without the support of others and says friend Zara Tindall the most practical mother she knows. On the photo: Natalie with Zara in 2011

Given the conversation about equality (or lack thereof) in F1, does she see a difference in her own backyard? Yes, she does. Her daughter has the edge to put her foot down.

“Willow is fearless,” she admits. “My son is Mr Health & Safety. When we’re in the car, he looks at the dashboard and says, “You’re in a 30 mph zone, Mom, and you’re doing 32.”

Parenting and more relevant a decade in sports have convinced Natalie, 41, that there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have a female F1 champion.

“Physically there is no reason a woman cannot do it. It is one of the few sports where it really does not matter if you are male or female.

‘You can’t let women and men play rugby together, but once the helmet is on and the driver is immersed in the cockpit, you can’t tell the difference. I am convinced that we will have a female champion in 20 years. ‘

Natalie applauded and criticized the downfall of the glamorous ‘grid girls’ at the opening ceremony of the races a few years ago.

She herself is glamorous and not averse to posing for publicity photos that look attractive, which is a tricky one. She says she and her sports TV friends Gabby Logan and Kirsty Gallacher often talk about how high-profile women in the industry should handle it all.

Natalie was Prince Harry's one-time drinking buddy and confidant. Shown in 2011

Natalie was Prince Harry's one-time drinking buddy and confidant. Shown in 2011

Natalie was Prince Harry’s one-time drinking buddy and confidant. Shown in 2011

“As a woman in this industry, you can fall into the trap of coming up with statistics to prove you know them. You should avoid that because a man wouldn’t do it – he would assume everyone knew what he was talking about.

“Over time, people will recognize that you know what you’re talking about. There has to be a shift by the public to recognize that we are not a token totty. ‘

Her own rise to become the face of F1 was helped by her mom Joy, a leading lawyer who cut her workload to help with childcare.

“She’s still working, but I don’t know when she’s asleep. I couldn’t have done this without her. She said, “I don’t want you to have a babysitter,” but her own job is so demanding – she works in family law and sees so much abuse.

“She was always my role model. Because of her, I believed I was a working mother. ‘

The overlap of work and private life is clear today. She is in the garden with her husband, TV manager Owain Walbyoff and children while we talk about Zoom.

Pre-kids Natalie was a completely different character, especially in the newspapers because of her glamorous social set. Rumored to have dated Prince Harry (never confirmed, and she won’t start today), she was definitely his one-time drinking buddy and confidant.

That friendship, as we’ve read, has slipped since Harry married, right? She refuses to say anything because everything she says is emphasized.

She says her friends are her biggest cheerleaders. They include Sarah-Jane Mee of Sky News, presenters Kirsty Gallacher and Zoe Hardman, and Zara Phillips, former Olympic and of course Princess Anne’s daughter.

Natalie said her friendship group may never be due to Caroline Flack's death, revealing that they haven't seen each other to process it because of a blockage. Pictured from left to right: Sarah-Jane Mee, Natalie Pinkham, Caroline Flack, and Zoe Hardman

Natalie said her friendship group may never be due to Caroline Flack's death, revealing that they haven't seen each other to process it because of a blockage. Pictured from left to right: Sarah-Jane Mee, Natalie Pinkham, Caroline Flack, and Zoe Hardman

Natalie said her friendship group may never be due to Caroline Flack’s death, revealing that they haven’t seen each other to process it because of a blockage. Pictured from left to right: Sarah-Jane Mee, Natalie Pinkham, Caroline Flack, and Zoe Hardman

“We all work mothers in the same industries and we support each other. We are stronger together. Women will not progress without the support of others.

“We are meters from each other’s children. We don’t all live close enough to help with school runs and stuff, but my house is like Piccadilly Circus, there is always someone around and the other moms understand this life. I couldn’t do it without them. ‘

With her life as a perceived privilege, does Zara understand what it is to be a working mother? Natalie nods furiously.

“She’s the most practical mom I know. She is incredible, she is so present to her children. Mike too [Tindall, her husband]. It goes back to mutual respect for each other’s careers. ‘

Unfortunately, a member of her circle is no longer here. She and presenter Caroline Flack were great friends.

Natalie said her rise to become the face of F1 has been helped by her mom Joy, who is a leading lawyer. In the photo: Natalie with her husband Owain and children Willow and Wilf

Natalie said her rise to become the face of F1 has been helped by her mom Joy, who is a leading lawyer. In the photo: Natalie with her husband Owain and children Willow and Wilf

Natalie said her rise to become the face of F1 has been helped by her mom Joy, who is a leading lawyer. In the photo: Natalie with her husband Owain and children Willow and Wilf

When Natalie married Owain in Portugal in 2012, Caroline’s X Factor commitments meant she couldn’t make it to the wedding, but she flew to reception. It was a source of hilariousness for them that she had never quite made it.

Exhausted from work, Caroline lay down on the hotel bed and fell asleep, missing the whole thing.

That now seems a million miles away. Caroline committed suicide in February and Natalie is still staggering. She is talkative and cheerful by nature, but she falls apart when she tries to articulate how their friendship group got through this.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get through it. I really struggled. It happened just before the shutdown, so we didn’t see each other to process it.

“It really hurts. I have never felt so anxious. I hadn’t seen any of my friends – and then realized I’d never see her again.

Natalie Pinkham, 41, (pictured) who has presented Sky's Formula 1 Racing for seven years, reflects on how lockdown made her thankful for everything she has

Natalie Pinkham, 41, (pictured) who has presented Sky's Formula 1 Racing for seven years, reflects on how lockdown made her thankful for everything she has

Natalie Pinkham, 41, (pictured) who has presented Sky’s Formula 1 Racing for seven years, reflects on how lockdown made her thankful for everything she has

“Just hearing her name is kind of like a dagger in the heart. Suicide breaks everyone. But no matter how much pain we, her friends feel, is amplified a thousand times for her family. ‘

Caroline has since been presented as very complex, but her friends don’t seem to agree. “She was so very nice,” says Natalie.

“I never heard her beat anyone, so when people talked about her, she didn’t understand. Away from the chaos of celebrity life, she was just a beautiful, sweet soul and so good with my kids. ‘

She says lockdown has made her thankful for everything she has.

“Everything has changed, hasn’t it? We all take care of each other. We are all vulnerable. We all felt weird when closing and there is a band now. ‘

The British Grand Prix is ​​on Sky Sports F1 and Now TV this weekend.

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