Channel 4 will present the opening phases of the 2020 Formula One season from the UK, Motorsport Broadcasting has learnt.
The season was due to start with the Australian Grand Prix back in March, but the opening weekend failed to get going after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for COVID-19 and the pandemic took hold.
Now, the season is set to begin with a double-header in Austria on July 5th and July 12th, with all eight European races announced so far taking place behind closed doors.
As part of the announcement, F1 stated that there would be around 1,200 essential personnel on-site for each event, with 60 broadcast personnel also there.
The position in relation to every media outlet is unclear, however this site can confirm that UK free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 will not be travelling to the opening races.
Instead, production partner Whisper will produce Channel 4’s F1 highlights offering from a location to be determined within the UK, with the team situated together in a studio-based setting.
The 2020 F1 calendar – at a glance
July 5th – Austria
July 12th – Styria
July 19th – Hungary
August 2nd – Britain
August 9th – 70th Anniversary
August 16th – Spain
August 30th– Belgium
September 6th – Italy
Steve Jones will continue to present Channel 4’s coverage, with the likes of Ben Edwards, Billy Monger, David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Lee McKenzie alongside him to offer insight and analysis.
Speaking to this site, a Whisper spokesperson said “We can’t wait for F1 racing to return, so we can bring that excitement to our passionate F1 audience, who have waited since November to see cars on track.
“We want to get back on-site as soon as we can, but only when it’s safe to do so. F1 have done a remarkable job in restarting the season and we want to support them in every way possible.”
As revealed earlier this year, Channel 4 will air ‘extended highlights’ this season, the free-to-air broadcaster airing around 75 percent of the race, a substantial increase on last year’s figure.
However, the broadcaster will not air live coverage of the 70th anniversary race from Silverstone on August 9th, that race airing live on Sky Sports.
As Motorsport Broadcasting confirmed last month, Channel 4’s broadcast rights only allow them to air live coverage of the event given the ‘British Grand Prix’ title, which is currently the race scheduled for August 2nd.