David Coulthard is to step away from Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage for three races this year, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.
The Scotsman has been part of the UK’s F1 free-to-air offering since 2009, first with the BBC from 2009 to 2015, and more recently with Channel 4, attending every race since at least 1995 in either a racing or broadcasting capacity. Coulthard started his existing commentary role in 2011, joining Martin Brundle and Ben Edwards in the booth during that time.
However, Coulthard will not be part of Channel 4’s coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as two additional races later in the season.
This site understands that Mark Webber will join Ben Edwards on commentary for Baku, with Steve Jones, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie completing Channel 4’s on-air team. It is unknown if Webber will step into the box for the other two races that Coulthard is stepping aside for.
Coulthard follows in the footsteps of close friend and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle, who reduced his commitments with Sky last year to 18 races, and is again doing so this season.
Whilst disappointing to lose Coulthard for the three races, his decision to trim his F1 commitments is no doubt similar in reasoning to those elsewhere in the paddock, with the Grand Prix race schedule more demanding compared with yesteryear.
Outside of the F1 circle, Coulthard has other obligations within the motoring world and beyond, such as the new W Series, which gets underway in earnest the weekend after Baku.
Webber, who raced in Formula 1 from 2002 to 2013 with Red Bull and Jaguar, should be a great replacement for Coulthard. As part of Sky’s own shake-up last Autumn, the broadcaster was understood to have been interested in Webber, but no deal came to fruition.
He has commentated on F1 before for Australian broadcaster Ten Sports, most recently during their coverage of this year’s Australian Grand Prix, when he joined Tom Clarkson in the commentary box.
Azerbaijan will be Webber’s first solo commentary alongside Edwards in the Channel 4 booth, although he did join Edwards and Coulthard to comthe 2016 British Grand Prix.
13 thoughts on “Coulthard to step away from Channel 4’s F1 coverage for three races this season”
Perhaps this explains why Ted suddenly returned to Sky! We will never know if he would make a race commentator.
I think what must be a factor as well that this is the first year where viewing numbers for his contributions will be negatively impacted by the delay in broadcasting times. Other than that I actually miss having Mark Webber’s comments more regularly and he would have easily outshone both Herbert and di Resta in my opinion
According to an article in today’s PitPass, the viewing figures for Ch4’s F1 programme have fallen through the floor. I imagine it may rise once Sky stop showing the races for free on Sky 1. I’ve heard a rumour Sky are going to broadcast the next 3 races on there as well. If true, that’ll please those who paid the extra for the Sky F1 channel.
I would suggest you head over here: https://motorsportbroadcasting.com/2019/04/01/hamiltons-bahrain-victory-peaks-with-3-8-million-viewers/
And here: https://motorsportbroadcasting.com/ratings/
If you want to read something that takes into account the different factors instead of a number written down without any analysis.
I was tempted to mention the probable author who has a poor reputation in some circles.
Very disappointed to hear this as DC and Ben Edwards are terrific. I’m glad Mark Webber didn’t defect along with Karun Chandhok, so hopefully he will stick with Channel 4 on the occasions we can’t have DC.
I think the race highlights are as good as ever and Channel 4 are doing the best job they can but the ludicrous Sky restrictions are harming the rest of the presentation. The driver interviews, etc. just don’t have the same spark and immediacy when C4 are banned from the pitlane and so on during the weekend. A pity Channel 4 don’t do a half-hour/hour-long analysis show on a Monday to make up for everything we are losing.
Really hope Liberty will take a look at what’s happening to the viewing figures when Sky stop their sly tactic of sticking the race on Sky One as well, and step in to encourage Sky to sell/relinquish control of the highlights package at least.
Spoiler alert: Liberty will do nothing
I agree. I subscribe to Sky Sports (and have done so since they began broadcasting F1) but have always watched Channel 4 when they had a live race. Sadly Sky’s restrictions have (deliberately) sucked the life out of their rival’s shows.
It always felt fresh and vibrant (in stark contrast to Sky’s stuffy and bloated show) but now is almost claustrophobic. The lack of pitlane access is a huge loss and the quick cuts to the drivers’ answers in the pen to cut out the Sky interviewer all feel second best.
It’s not Channel 4’s fault, but it is making a huge difference to the quality of the coverage.
As ever, money talks and Sky have the deepest pockets.
Of course this is the result of the deal that Bernie set up for the max amount of money.
I am pretty sure that the 100 year leas agreement had a clause which forced some coverage to be FTA. Berne’s interpretation of this was always the broadest possible.
By the time this current restriction runs out, the UK audience will have withered to less than the Sky combined one. But even then we will depend upon a UK tv channel being willing to pay enough to regain FTA for the UK. By then many will have switched to the excellent BTCC series which is broadcast in full, including support races.
Not everyone can afford Sky, I absolutely love F1 on Channel 4 and they should be able to broadcast the full race and not just the highlights, also missing DC love watching him and hearing his commentary and his analysis of the races
I am really enjoying the coverage this season! I enjoy the way C4 have made the best of their restrictions. In fact I enjoy the pace of the highlights programmes better than full race days.
Greatly miss DC’s presence and commentary. Similarly Ben Edwards, the loss of his measured and deeply knowledgeable commentary has diminished C4 output together with the other restrictions put in place by Sky. Not much impressed by his replacement. Hard on the ear. It is interesting that German free to air channel RTL has recently given up broadcasting F1 because of restrictions making it not worth the candle. How much longer can C4 continue? I am a life long enthusiast for F1 over more years than I care to recall. A combination of diminishing coverage and petty rules combined with dubious decisions on track make me less inclined to tune in and certainly not by paying a by race fee. However I did pay for official race coverage of Le Mans 24 hours and at £8.99 all up for 24 hours was excellent value. Commentary team mostly good especially Alan Mcnish.