How Formula 1’s new weekend schedule will impact UK fans in 2018

Formula 1 has today announced a raft of changes to their weekend schedule, ahead of the 2018 Formula One season.

The changes include starting every race at ten minutes past the hour. Formula 1 says this change will cater for broadcasters, such as new American broadcaster ESPN, who wish to start their coverage at the top of the hour. Previously, broadcasters who joined on the hour, missed “the tension and emotion that characterize the minutes before the start of each Grand Prix.”

A second adjustment involves moving European race weekends, and the Brazilian Grand Prix back by one hour which, according to Formula 1 will allow the sport to reach a “wider TV audience [..] later in the afternoons, especially in the summer months.”

An unintended impact, which no one has mentioned, is that the later start time will result in the podium ceremony potentially running over the top of the hour, especially for races such as Hungary. Bad news for broadcasters who want F1 confined to a specific two hour time slot…

How do the changes impact UK fans?

UK F1 2018 session start times
The times UK F1 fans can expect to see Formula 1 in 2018. Anything in red is a timing change compared with 2017.

It means that European races will start at 14:10, instead of 13:00, an arrangement which dated back to the late 1990’s. Monaco was historically the exception, races in the principality started at 14:30 local time, however this agreement ended following the 1997 season.

As predicted in December, the French Grand Prix has also moved to avoid clashing with England versus Panama in the football World Cup. The race will now start at 15:10 UK time, with the latter stages of the race clashing with Japan versus Senegal on BBC One.

Although not a timing change for this year, the switch of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to late-April, has resulted in a minor clash with the Paris E-Prix. It means that the final moments of qualifying are likely to overlap with the start of the E-Prix, however thankfully for Formula E, that is the extent of the clashes.

For MotoGP, the Assen TT and British Grand Prix fall on the same day as Formula 1’s Austrian and Belgium rounds. In previous years, MotoGP has worked around F1’s scheduling, with the British MotoGP race starting at 15:30. However, Formula 1 may have done Dorna a favour. By moving their start-time to 14:10 UK time, it means the MotoGP main event could feasibly start at 13:00 UK time with no overlap, barring a red flag or other unusual circumstances.

Elsewhere, Channel 4’s highlights programming for the European rounds and Brazil may air an hour later, depending on what the contract between them and F1 states, starting at 19:00 instead of the usual 17:30 or 18:00 start time. Formula 1’s press release makes no reference to Formula Two or GP3, although one would hope that they benefit because of this change, and become more integrated into F1’s weekend activities.



9 thoughts on “How Formula 1’s new weekend schedule will impact UK fans in 2018

  1. This is a bad move, at least with the previous 1pm start the race ended at half 2 and you still had a bit of time in the afternoon to spend with family etc. Now race not finishing until twenty to four it completely ruins your afternoon, they should have made it a 4pm or 5pm start in my opinion, so you can be out all day back in time for dinner and sitting down to watch the race.

    1. Agreed, A 1 PM start left the rest of the afternoon for the family as you could be finished early afternoon. This change will likely result in my watching less races live. I have rarely missed a race in the past but this change will give me no option now.

  2. Presumably these TV stations that Liberty Media think need this 10 minute adjustment don’t cover any other sport that starts on the hour?
    The first thing they are going to do is slip in a chunk of ads in that 10 minutes.
    Then there’s a 2 hour race that’ll finish at 10 minutes past the hour, presumably they will stay on air for another 50 minutes, or an hour if it’s a 1hr 50 race? I can’t see this happening myself if they only want a maximum of 10 minutes build up.
    Liberty should have said “If you want to start on the hour, cover it properly and have a one hour build up”.
    I have an uneasy feeling that Liberty are going to come up with more daft ideas, this is the second after changing the logo to something that looks like a squashed ‘A’.

    1. I think this is being done entirely for the U.S. market. ESPN the new broadcaster this year have said they are not going to show any pre/post race coverage. The change in the start time then gives ESPN time to finish their top of the hour commercial break and show a little bit of buildup form whatever broadcaster (Sky?) ESPN is showing before the start. If it’s a 2 hour race this still gives a 20 min window to for U.S. viewers to see the awards ceremony and driver comments before ESPN leaves at the bottom of the hour.

      1. I think you’re right. Will Buxton seems to think it’s the greatest idea since sliced bread, so presumably he’s going to work for ESPN or Liberty Media.

  3. The 3 posts are right but the real problem is pay TV, which are slowly killing F1 & golf both in GB & Italy.This makes me very sad indeed as I have been following them both since the 60’s!

    1. The down side to pay TV is that it increases the rights, and sports love pay TV for that reason. On the other hand, pay TV offers better coverage, non pay TV are very fickle when it comes to sport. The BBC now only really cover what they have to.

      “….the real problem is pay TV, which are slowly killing…..”, the counter argument to that is football, I’m not a football fan but sponsors for example don’t seem to be in short supply.

      1. The difference with football is it that it was the most watched sport in the country before going to pay TV so they aren’t as reliant on floating fans.
        Although Sky/BT may be expensive you are getting hundreds of matches a season, not just 20 races, so it’s always in the news, always being hyped up by the media and the average football fans is getting much better value for money than the average F1 fan.

  4. @Anthony Floating fans aren’t fans, they are just casual watchers. My post was not so much about value for money for the viewer, but the view that many seem to have on the effect of pay TV on team sponsorship. If an F1 team struggles to get good sponsorship then that’s because of the team and F1 itself as a product. Just because it’s going solely to pay TV in the UK, that is not a reason for a drop in sponsorship. It’s an annual World Championship that is, or was, third in the list of most viewed sports events behind the World Cup and the Olympics.

    People point the finger at pay TV when it comes to viewing figures, sponsorship etc, generally without substance.
    I’ve yet to see anyone in the media, F1, F1 Teams etc, point the finger at Channel 4 and ask them the simple question “As a Free To Air public service broadcaster, how have you lost 35 to 40% of viewers in the UK?”
    So just saying that pay TV is killing F1 and should be FTA is nonsense.

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