New opening themes for Sky’s and Channel 4’s F1 coverage

Both Sky Sports and Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage in 2019 opened with a new theme in Australia, stepping away from their previous efforts as a new era of broadcasting began down under.

Outlands in, Just Drive out at Sky
For Sky, Alistair Griffin’s Just Drive has been a fixture of their opening titles since their very first show in 2012. After seven years, Just Drive steps aside for Outlands by Daft Punk, the song most famous for featuring in Tron: Legacy back in 2010.

The new titles, an effort spanning multiple creative agencies and over 40 people, are six months in the making. As with Sky’s new Formula 1 pre-season trailer, their in-house Creative Agency steered this project from initial concept to delivery.

By Sky’s side were The Mill, Trim and Envy, responsible for visual, edit and sound respectively. The 2019 opening sequence shows the weekend build-up to a crescendo, utilising a ‘left to right’ movement throughout, giving it a ‘big time’ feel.

The intro is a significant improvement on previous efforts where the opening sequence inter weaved Sky’s own personnel with the racing action.

Writing on his Behance profile, Chris Sharpe, Design Director at Sky Creative takes us through the titles. “The new title celebrates the raw and visceral aspects of the live sport. Showcasing the theatre of a weekends coverage, from team preparation to chequered flag, while also encapsulating the story and drama of the previous season’s championship,” explains Sharpe.

“The simple but consistent left to right mechanic weaves its way through the edit, finishing with a spectacular CG move. The sequence signs-off with an unachievable grid moment, leaving the viewer with an unforgettable start of race experience.”

The Mill’s Director for the piece, Ivo Sousa adds “My focus from the offset was demonstrating the importance of the team behind each driver. Each role is essential and preparation is meticulous, every part of the process counts. The engineering details are insanely intricate and yet, in contradiction, the sport is a brutal force.”

The team filmed footage during last year’s US Grand Prix weekend, whilst Silverstone played host to the opening Mercedes shoot. As with all films, some footage did not make the final cut, with the shot described by Rachel Brookes last October featuring Sky’s personnel turning their heads on cue absent.

Genesis in, The Chain out at Channel 4
With Channel 4 unable to secure Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain for 2019, the free-to-air broadcaster too had to look elsewhere for inspiration.

In comes in French duo Justice, with Genesis, which has an opening salvo famous for appearing across many different forms of artwork. The imagery is in a similar style to that of Channel 4’s previous introductions, although a step below the BBC’s efforts from 2009 to 2015.

For both Channel 4 and Sky, the music feels like an afterthought, which is not a surprise considering both broadcasters were hoping to use The Chain as revealed on this site last week. Both tracks are fine, but neither live up to The Chain, admittedly finding a track that does live up to The Chain is a difficult task.

In situations like these, I suspect both broadcasters cut two or three different versions of their respective title sequences ready for use, one with The Chain. If you overlay The Chain over the top of Sky’s visuals, you get a good match. The race for The Chain has resulted in better visuals than sounds in my opinion, on both sides.

Elsewhere, Formula 1’s own opening titles received a makeover. Brian Tyler’s F1 theme remained for a second consecutive season, with his evocative track. This year’s introduction from F1 is an example of where the imagery does not fit the sound, whereas last year, the timing was on point.

However, this year’s effort focusses on each outfit in a logical order, starting with the lower six teams, before moving on the top four teams, whereas there was no logical order to last year’s introduction. With that in mind, if the intention of the 2019 piece is to help newer fans get into the sport, then it is a job well done.


11 thoughts on “New opening themes for Sky’s and Channel 4’s F1 coverage

  1. Not sure why you think there’s an equal amount of time in the FOM sting on each driver? There’s 3 tiers – bottom 3 teams, next 3 teams, then top 4. Even Carlos Sainz’s mum wouldn’t recognise him here with the amount of screentime he gets.

    Would have been good to have Ch 4’s titles featured in the article too.

    1. Am planning to add to the article once I find out more about the C4 details.

      Regarding the comment it’s a fair point. Equal amount was probably the wrong choice of phrase, but it certainly feels like there’s more emphasis on the lower and mid field. Will adjust.

  2. “The simple but consistent left to right mechanic weaves its way through the edit, finishing with a spectacular CG move.”

    I find it a terrific mechanic for messing up my eyes.

    Are you able to explain how Sky came to use The Chain on their ad campaign for the new season but not the actual programme titles themselves? Is it just plain more expensive to have it for all related programming all year than for a one-off ad campaign?

    Having said that I’m not unhappy to wave goodbye to Just Drive.

    1. The one-off ad campaign is just that – one-off and has a limited life span.

      Whereas the intro will be played acros every single Sky Sports F1 introduction this year.

      I don’t how the cost is determined (suspect a combination of number of occurrences x reach), but the latter is likely to incur a greater cost than the former.

  3. I notice that C4’s qualifying programme expires after one week on their on-demand service (their programmes used to be available for 28 days). Another restriction imposed on C4 by Sky I suppose.

    1. Yes, I spotted that too! Another irritation. I think Channel 4 did a great job considering the restrictions forced upon them and found the truncated coverage very enjoyable – especially the bit where a cheeky DC pointed out to Mattia Binotto that he was speaking to the UK broadcaster with the largest audience…

      Surely if Carey is on the board of Sky he can encourage them to sell/surrender control of the highlights so we can at least get the level of content we had on non-live weekends last year? There were barely any videos on the Channel 4 site, the last time I looked; we used to have a lot more, including some brief highlights of practice and analysis (something I always felt they should have expanded up to a twenty minute/half-hour programme for each session).

      Ah well, with C4 highlights, live BBC radio and a wealth of motorsport websites I can still get my F1 fix, I just have to work a bit harder for it than I used to.

  4. Have the publishers of ‘The Chain’ painted themselves into a corner by attempting to get Sky and Channel 4 into an auction for the rights to use it? There’s a lot of money in music rights, as both the Beatles and Rolling Stones discovered when they lost access to their own work.

  5. Re: The Chain: the BBC Checkered Flag 5 Live pre and post race podcasts still use the iconic bass line.

    I find the new Sky theme to be blustery fake drama: completely uninspired and uninspiring. Just Drive had real emotion for me. Change just for it’s own sake.

  6. The last CGI shot is ok – but, I can’t have been the only one to spot that a certain lager company must be pleased to get it’s logos as the virtual 44 car pulls away.
    It’s almost like Sky are begging them to sponsort the coverage with it’s 0% alcohol brand.

    Talking of which – no sponsor for the coverage from Sky (yet) would have thought they’d have had a moneybags company sewn up as programme/channel sponsor with them being the live coverage outlet.

  7. They should have at least tried to get something else promoted as an unofficial racing theme like September 88s Yello – The Race to promote it from unofficial to become the real official music of Formula 1 if all else fails to get Fleetward Mac – The Chain on your coverage.

    Racing music should be about racing.The Race preferably the instrumental is racing and even has old school 80s F1 cars smashing into barricades and doing twisters in the music video.

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