Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain will not be Channel 4’s Formula 1 signature theme for the upcoming 2019 season, Motorsport Broadcasting can reveal.
The iconic track has been synonymous with Formula 1 coverage on UK television for decades, with the BBC using it as its soundtrack until 1996.
Following ITV’s acquisition of Formula 1 rights in 1997, the commercial broadcaster opted to head in a different direction with their soundtrack, using a mix of Jamiroquai, Apollo 440, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Moby during their twelve years of covering the sport.
When the BBC returned to the F1 frame from a television perspective in 2009, The Chain duly returned with them. Channel 4 took over the free-to-air baton from the BBC at the end of 2015, and have used the Fleetwood Mac hit since.
Heading into the new season however, I understand that Channel 4 and Whisper Films have all but given up hope in securing the famous bass riff for their opening titles. The broadcaster begins a new era of Formula 1 broadcasting in the UK next weekend in Melbourne, with 20 of the 21 races airing in highlights form this season.
Sources close to the situation have confirmed that the broadcaster has secured an alternative modern track, which will debut during next Saturday’s coverage of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.
In a separate development, Sky have confirmed that they will also not be using The Chain in their coverage this season. Responding to questions from fans on social media, Sky said that it was “not feasible to use the [The Chain] on the titles.”
I understand that Sky’s desire to use theme, hence its inclusion in their pre-season trailer, has resulted in a bidding war between the two broadcasters and record company Universal Music Publishing Group, which in turn has concluded with neither Channel 4 or Sky securing the rights to The Chain for 2019.
It means that, as of writing, for the first time since 2008 when ITV used Moby’s Lift Me Up, neither UK TV broadcaster will be using The Chain as their signature theme. There is a slim outside possibility that the situation could change, but it currently appears highly unlikely.