Monaco Grand Prix ratings suffer under British heat [UPDATED]

The Monaco Grand Prix plunged from its 2010 and 2011 highs yesterday unsurprisingly as the UK experienced its first heat-wave of the year. The race attracted a peak of 4.16 million viewers on BBC One, lower than the average for last year’s programme.

Yesterday’s programme averaged 3.13 million, which I believe is the lowest rating for a live BBC F1 race programme in daytime since Formula 1’s return to the corporation in 2009. Sky Sports F1 added a further 565 thousand viewers, bringing the total viewership to 3.69 million, the lowest since 2009. This split is 84.9% to 15.1% in BBC’s favour, the biggest split ratio yet between the two. Given the weather, a drop was expected, and it’s not a concerning drop, this was round about expected. All ratings in the past few days have been hit hard by the warm weather, and the F1 was another victim of that.

Looking at the figures compared to last year, only one of the five races so far (Bahrain does not count) has been up year-on-year, that being China. All the rest of the races have recorded declines of some sort.

Qualifying held up fairly well, with 2.07 million watching on BBC One. Sky Sports F1 added 388 thousand, with the overall total in line with 2009 and 2010. 2011 was abnormally high due to the session overrunning as a result of Sergio Perez’s crash.

Note: The ratings information comes from Digital Spy and Attentional.

Changes to the BBC line-up for the Summer

There will two significant changes to the BBC line-up for the Summer as the Formula 1 season approaches its halfway point. On the TV side of things, Jake Humphrey will only be ‘travelling’ to one of the five Summer races, that being the British Grand Prix. Humphrey will not be at Canada or Europe due to his Euro 2012 presenting duties, while he will not be attending Germany or Hungary due to his presenting duties at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Lee McKenzie will be stepping up from her pit lane duties to present from these four races. No one will be joining the team for these four races, so they will be operating with one less member for these races, although three of them are in the form of highlights so it is not a major depletion.

On the radio side of things, James Allen will not be covering the Canadian or European Grand Prix’s, with Jonathan Legard commentating alongside Jaime Alguersuari for those particular races. Allen will also be missing several races in the second half of the season from Belgium, although the specific races have not yet been confirmed.

Did the media brush the Hamilton and Schumacher incident from Spain under the carpet?

One thing I forgot to blog about yesterday was how the media treated the Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher incident from practice three in Spain. It, to me, had a ‘brushed under the carpet’ feel to it.

The incident started at turn ten when Schumacher was behind Hamilton. As they came into the chicane, Schumacher took to the old race track (thus overtaking Hamilton) and then appeared to brake test Hamilton. It was difficult to see how close Schumacher was to Hamilton as the camera was on the left hand side of Hamilton’s car, so you could not see how close they were to colliding. Even as a Schumacher fan however, the incident appeared unacceptable to me.

Schumacher got off with a reprimand, but I was surprised to see how the media treated the incident. In their Qualifying build-up show, BBC looked at Hamilton’s onboard shot, with the camera placed on the left-hand side of the car, while Sky on The F1 Show the following Friday showed both the Schumacher onboard and Hamilton’s onboard shot (they claimed the Schumacher onboard was ‘new’ footage), see this video. BBC briefly brought it up yesterday, showing the same Schumacher footage, but it appeared thrown in there, with no opinion or thoughts from either Schumacher or Hill to go alongside it.

What I did not get though, is why the media did not ask Hamilton or Schumacher how they interpreted the incident. This is in contrast to the Pastor Maldonaldo and Sergio Perez incident yesterday, where Maldonaldo was moved ten places back on the grid, and both were asked by Sky or BBC on their opinions on the incident. Neither Sky or BBC (or any other media outlet for that matter) asked Hamilton or Schumacher for their thoughts. Which I thought was odd. It was not mentioned in the Saturday post-qualifying press conference in Spain to Hamilton. Looking at Autosport’s news archive, I can see no article covering the incident.

Fast forward to Monaco. Both Schumacher and Hamilton were in the Wednesday drivers’ press conference. Despite this, no one asked them for their thoughts on the incident, and whether any punishment should have been given.

It all seemed a bit odd…

No Classic F1 for Canada next Sunday on Sky Sports F1

Now that the EPG is updating for next Sunday, it appears that there will no Classic F1 on Sky Sports F1 next Sunday like there was last Sunday. This is extremely disappointing to see considering the positive reaction there was to Sky screening Classic F1 races last week.

It seems, although time will tell, that was just a one-off for Monaco. I should note that it was no where stated on their website that classic races would be shown for every race for Monaco, just that was the assumption.

Nevertheless, it is disappointing to see another repeat of the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix’s in the schedule for this time next week. Here is their schedule for next Sunday:

10:00 – Spanish Grand Prix Repeat
13:50 – filler
15:30 – Monaco Grand Prix Repeat

Hopefully that will change mid-week. But at the moment, it appears that Sky are screening no classic stuff for Canada. Considering Canada is one of the best races of the entire season, I would be more likely to watch the 2007 through 2011 races for Canada than what was shown last weekend. I watched 2008 Monaco last weekend, but 2007, 2009 and 2010 were nothing spectacular, whereas with Canada just about every race in the past few years has had excitement and I would happily watch 2007 Canada, 2008 Canada and so on and so forth again.

I should probably note that Sky are continuing to screen the season reviews – with 2007 airing next weekend at 21:00.

Update on Wednesday 30th May: So it is now mid-week, and as of writing this update, the schedule is exactly the same to that above. I sent an e-mail to Sky last night asking why they are not broadcasting Classic Formula 1 races this Sunday. I also said that the following schedule would be much better:

09:00 to 09:30 – a classic Canadian Grand Prix from the 1980’s (similar to Monaco)
09:30 to 11:25 – 2006 Canadian Grand Prix
11:25 to 13:35 – 2007 Canadian Grand Prix
13:35 to 15:35 – 2008 Canadian Grand Prix
15:35 to 17:30 – 2010 Canadian Grand Prix
17:30 to 21:00 – 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
21:00 to 22:20 – Season Review 2007 (Part 2)

I added to the end of the e-mail that the above schedule “appeals to the hardcore fans, whereas showing more repeats appeals to no one”. The ratings released this past Monday appear to support that very fact.

Monaco Grand Prix being directed locally again

As noted by Will Buxton in his GP2 Practice commentary this morning, the Monaco Grand Prix is being directed locally again. The race is again being directed by Télé Monte Carlo, which is the usual tradition in Monaco. This is therefore one of only two races this year where you cannot blame Formula One Management (FOM) for the poor direction as they have no influence over the direction the local hosts chooses to take.

The other race which is hosted locally is the Japanese Grand Prix, which is directed by Fuji Television.

Update on May 23rd, 2013 – The same applies for 2013. Monaco of course now is the only race to be directed locally, Fuji Television having handed over control to FOM for the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.