Classic F1 races are returning to Sky Sports F1 again for the 2016 season, provisional schedules show. The strand returns to the channel on Friday 11th March at 21:00, with a race that is yet to be confirmed.
Alongside Classic F1 is an episode of the F1 Report, which appears to have dropped its ‘Midweek’ branding. The one-hour report will air on Wednesday 9th March at 20:30. Entitled ‘Development Special’, the programme will focus on how teams are preparing for the Australian Grand Prix. Craig Scarborough and Mike Gascoyne are the two guests, with Natalie Pinkham presenting.
The biggest absence though from Sky’s schedule is The F1 Show. There were rumours towards the back end of last year that Sky were planning to axe the live audience studio based episodes, although the show was mentioned in Sky’s press release last month. A request sent from this blog to Sky on Saturday 13th February has so far yielded no reply. It could be that Sky are simply planning to not air a pre-season episode, but that seems a bizarre decision to me.
It will be interesting to see what happens, but if Sky do axe the studio editions of The F1 Show then it is further evidence of the downscaling of the F1 operation and channel as a whole.
Update on February 19th – The announcement of Marc Priestley appearing as a regular pundit on the F1 Report notes that there will be an Australian Grand Prix preview show on Wednesday 16th March at 20:30. It therefore looks like that the F1 Report is going to air weekly, in place of the studio editions of The F1 Show.
Update on February 24th – The F1 Show, as we know it, is no more. Half an hour episodes will air on the Friday (at least) of each Grand Prix, starting on Friday 18th March at 08:00 (immediately following the Team Principles’ Press Conference). I don’t think the episodes will be airing live, but cannot confirm that. Obviously this is a clear sign of cost-cutting. I would be surprised if Sky acknowledge the change in format for the show. Confirmation too that the F1 Report will air weekly, 30 minute episodes each Wednesday at 20:30.
Update on February 27th – A half hour Testing Special will air on Saturday 5th March at 20:00, with Ted Kravitz joined by guests in Barcelona.
Update on March 9th – Interesting wording from Natalie Pinkham on Twitter, describing The F1 Show and F1 Midweek Report as merging to form the F1 Report. Normally with a merger, you take the best elements of both, combine them and come up with something better. The F1 Report is the F1 Midweek Report, renamed. There are no elements from The F1 Show that are being merged into it, the studio audience has gone as does any interactivity that went alongside it. It may be a good thing (and I think it will end up having its benefits), but in my opinion describing this change as a merger is inaccurate.
Update on March 18th at 08:10 – Correction to the main body, The F1 Show is indeed live.
Update on March 18th at 08:35 – Okay, so the new style F1 Show contains Friday reaction and analysis, live interviews and reaction with a few VT’s. The lighter content has gone. All in all, it seems a welcome change even if the show length has halved.