Channel 4 and Sky Sports have today confirmed their 2018 Formula One calendar picks, the final time this process takes place under the terms of original BBC and Sky deal from 2012 to 2018.
The picks are as follows:
2018 Schedule Details
March 25th – Australia (Melbourne) – Sky
April 8th – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 and Sky
April 15th – China (Shanghai) – Sky
April 29th – Azerbaijan (Baku) – Channel 4 and Sky
May 13th – Spain (Barcelona) – Sky
May 27th – Monaco (Monaco) – Channel 4 and Sky
June 10th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky
June 24th – France (Paul Ricard) – Sky
July 1st – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 8th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 22nd – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky
July 29th – Hungary (Budapest) – Sky
August 26th – Belgium (Spa) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 2nd – Italy (Monza) – Sky
September 16th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 30th – Russia (Sochi) – Sky
October 7th – Japan (Suzuka) – Channel 4 and Sky
October 21st – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Channel 4 and Sky
October 28th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Sky
November 11th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky
November 25th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 and Sky
The return of the French Grand Prix will air exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, whether it will go up against England versus Panama is something that should be confirmed one way or the other in forthcoming weeks.
Channel 4’s Head of F1, Stephen Lyle said: “We’re set for another compelling, action packed season and viewers can follow the whole story on C4, All4 and @C4F1. Once again the most iconic races are available Live and free to air as well as the season finale, with all fans hoping this one goes right to the wire.”
Sky’s new Head of F1, Scott Young said: “There is huge anticipation this year; can Hamilton create even more history, how will Ferrari and Red Bull close the gap, where will the young drivers emerge in the reckoning? Each season we look to find new ways to improve the coverage and entertain our viewers and this year will be no different.”
There are no significant pieces of news other than the schedule to come out of either side, other than Sky referencing Formula Two, GP3 and The F1 Report as usual. Channel 4’s press release confirms that they will continue to offer their live races advert free from lights out to chequered flag.
Sky’s line-up appears to be broadly the same as previous years. Although not mentioned, expect Simon Lazenby to return as presenter alongside the likes of Martin Brundle, David Croft, Ted Kravitz and Anthony Davidson. Earlier suggestions of Johnny Herbert leaving Sky appear to have not come to fruition.
Over on Channel 4, Steve Jones continues to anchor the team, with David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Suzi Wolff and Eddie Jordan providing analysis. Ben Edwards will again lead the commentary team, whilst Lee McKenzie will rove the pit lane at most races.
Compared with my predictions post, 13 out of the 21 races were correctly predicted. The stretch from Azerbaijan through to Germany was spot on, eight races in a row, as was the final hurdle from USA onwards, four races in a row! Even I admitted writing the post that the idea of Channel 4 picking Australia was “highly unlikely”, but went for it anyway.
What it does mean that the Australian Grand Prix last aired live on free-to-air television in the UK in 2011, a shame in my view and one reason Formula 1’s viewing figures have struggled off the line in recent years. In any event, we can safely say that unless anything changes, 2018 will be the final year every race, excluding Britain, airs live, free-to-air in the UK.