Channel 4’s F1 race edit to switch to ‘Extended Highlights’ format for 2020

Viewers watching Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage in 2020 will receive more of the action than last year, Motorsport Broadcasting can exclusively reveal.

As part of a new arrangement with Sky Sports, Channel 4 aired Formula 1 in highlights form in 2019, with the British Grand Prix also airing live. Both parties agreed to extend the partnership last Autumn, taking the agreement through to the end of 2022.

The highlights deal allowed Channel 4 to cover 50 percent of the race during their edit, a decrease on the amount stipulated in the 2012 to 2018 broadcasting contract between Formula 1, Sky, and their free-to-air partner at that time.

However, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm that Channel 4 and Sky have loosened at least two elements of the free-to-air contract for 2020.

This season, fans watching via Channel 4 will now see 70 percent of the racing action, increasing the race edit from 45 minutes to around 60 minutes (depending on race). The change brings Channel 4’s 2020 agreement closer to the 2012 to 2018 contract – at least in terms of the race edit.

The extension means that Channel 4’s race day show, produced by Whisper, will be 150 minutes in length for 2020 instead of 120 minutes, a similar amount compared with 2016 to 2018 for Channel 4 (including commercials).

In addition, Motorsport Broadcasting understands that both qualifying and the race day show can now begin two and a half hours after the chequered flag has fallen instead of three hours. Highlights for most European races will therefore air from 18:30 to 21:00, instead of 19:00 to 21:00 as they did last year.

The two races likely to prove troublesome this year are the United States and Mexican Grand Prix, which both begin at 19:10 UK time. Expect highlights to change to 22:30 to 01:00 this season, unless Sky gives Channel 4 any additional leeway on this front.

As of writing, there is no confirmation on the status of the additional restrictions that Sky imposed on Channel 4 prior to the 2019 season, such as the restriction of Channel 4 personnel on the grid or within the interview pen.

Overall, this is good news for fans watching Formula 1 via free-to-air television, and another sign that the relationship between Sky and Channel 4 is strong.

Both broadcasters expected to retain current line-ups
Although neither broadcaster has yet to confirm their on-air team, Motorsport Broadcasting expects both to field a similar line-up, with no upheaval like last year.

Ben Edwards is expected to return as Channel 4’s lead commentator, joined by personalities such as David Coulthard and Billy Monger throughout the course of the season.

Barring a change of direction, Sky are retaining Ted Kravitz for 2020, although the number of races Kravitz will be with Sky for is unclear. The likes of David Croft, Martin Brundle and Simon Lazenby are staying part of Sky’s line-up.

Meanwhile, newly announced W Series lead commentator Alex Jacques returns as commentator for Formula Two, Formula Three and Formula 1’s Pit Lane Channel this year.

Testing begins on Wednesday 19th February, with the season itself getting underway in Melbourne on Sunday 15th March, both of which are airing live on Sky Sports.

A correction was made to this article on January 19th. Although the United States Grand Prix begins an hour later local time, timezone differences / daylight savings mean that there is no difference to the UK race time and Channel 4’s highlights should therefore start half an hour earlier. My apologies for this error.

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8 thoughts on “Channel 4’s F1 race edit to switch to ‘Extended Highlights’ format for 2020

  1. Hopefully this will be enough to avoid a repeat of Brazil last year, where Whisper cut nearly all of the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen.

    Think if the F1 Season Pass is offered, my F1 consumption will still be via Sky, highlights or full reply for Australia, China, Vietnam and Japan, live for all other races. I think I’m right in saying race start time in Australia of 04:10 GMT is an hour earlier than last year?

    1. Because of the nature of my work, I am able to receive F1TV in the Netherlands, and what I feel Sky lacks is the ability to stream anything on demand, so if I missed FP3 on any given Saturday, I will still be able to review it. I have not been able to do so at Sky, hence my conviction that I will choose F1 TV once it becomes available in the UK too.

  2. A couple of changes coming at FOM. Sean Bratches is leaving because he wants to spend more time at home – that’ll go down well with all the team members who are attending more races and don’t get to travel in private jets. Tata’s contract with FOM has ended. I believe this makes way for a better company to run F1TV.

    I don’t miss the grid walk and the pen chats with drivers are pretty formulaic. I guess we won’t be seeing much of Lee McKenzie it future, other than when she joins the other ‘black sheep’ Ted at the W Series events.

  3. Very glad to hear this and it shows that somebody is listening. I’m not too bothered by not seeing grid walks or pen interviews anymore. Race footage is what matters and I’d rather see interviews done by the team on camera or proper sit down interviews done before hand. Also hoping they can keep doing On The Marbles Podcast as well.

  4. It’s great that the restrictions on C4 are being relaxed, but I do wonder what’s in it for Sky? You’d think that tighter limits would help drive people to pay for their coverage.

  5. Although I am happy to have a bit of free F1 programming available in this country, if the NFL is the target FOM is shooting for then the offering by Channel 4 as compared to the multiple broadcasting channels for the NFL such as CBS, ESPN, Fox etc pales considerably. All of the aforementioned channels have pre-game shows, post-game shows as well as regular weekday programming. Even a decent mid week programme such as the former Mid week report as presented by Ms. Nathalie Pinkham would be welcome

  6. Sky get more out of any deal with c4 and they know it. They get to show c4 programmes on their own on demand platform.
    Yes I know pretty much any sky viewer can just get the c4 app or watch terrestrial tv but the average uk human just thinks sky for everything once they start paying for it.
    I bet sky installers gleefully suggest cutting the ariel cable.
    Meanwhile C4 need to revise its breathless coverage. Just because the slot is shorted no need to panic talk. Much time also wasted with a bland generic view from whatever extra pundit they have signed up.

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