Scheduling: The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix

It will be odd, it will be strange, and it will be weird. But when the lights go out, nothing will sound better than twenty Formula 1 cars blasting their way around a Grand Prix circuit.

After a three-month hiatus, and seven months since the 2019 season ended, F1 is back with the start of the 2020 season, beginning with a double header in Austria.

Sky Sports are the only UK broadcaster presenting their coverage on-site. Simon Lazenby continues to steer the ship, alongside the likes of Ted Kravitz, David Croft and Martin Brundle out in Austria.

Due to COVID-19, Sky’s original plans from a scheduling perspective for 2020 have gone out the window. Both Paddock Walkabout and The F1 Show are missing from Sky’s Saturday schedule, whilst their qualifying and race build-ups have halved.

Current schedules show that Sky intends to have a 30-minute build-up to qualifying, with a 70-minute build-up to the race itself, reminiscent of ITV’s F1 offering in the early 2000s, albeit in very different circumstances.

Sky originally intended to extend their race build-up to 130-minutes for 2020, which appears to no longer be happening, for the early phase of the season at least. The qualifying programme is shorter, as Sky are airing a live Diversity in Motor Sport special in what would normally be the first 30-minutes of their qualifying show.

Given that the social distancing guidelines limit what you can do, it is not exactly surprising that Sky have had to review their programming and go back to basics – including no grid walk for the foreseeable future.

This site can reveal that both Channel 4 and the BBC are remaining in the UK for the opening rounds. Jack Nicholls and Jolyon Palmer form the BBC’s 5 Live commentary team for 2020, with Jennie Gow and Andrew Benson joining them.

Meanwhile, Steve Jones heads into a fifth season as Channel 4’s Formula 1 presenter, joined in their UK studio setting by David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Ben Edwards.

As revealed prior to Australia, Channel 4 are airing more of the race this year than in 2019, with around 60-minutes of the race airing in their edit, compared to 45-minutes last year.

Elsewhere, Sky are airing the Formula Two documentary series Chasing the Dream in the run-up to Austria. For those who do not have F1 TV, this is well worth a watch, the series following the leading contenders during the 2019 season.

Channel 4 F1
04/07 – 18:45 to 20:15 – Qualifying Highlights
05/07 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
03/07 – 09:30 to 11:50 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
03/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
04/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
04/07 – 13:30 to 15:30 – Qualifying
05/07 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Race
=> 13:00 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
29/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (1/5)
30/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (2/5)
01/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (3/5)
02/07 – 19:30 to 21:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference
02/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (4/5)
03/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
03/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (5/5)
04/07 – 13:00 to 13:30 – Diversity in Motor Sport

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
03/07 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
04/07 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
04/07 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05/07 – 13:55 to 16:15 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Formula Two – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
03/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
04/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
05/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
03/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
04/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
05/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 21:30 to 23:00 – Qualifying
04/07 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
05/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Keep an eye on this article over the forthcoming week, as broadcasters evolve their plans of the new F1 season.

Updated on June 30th to add details about Sky’s Diversity in Motor Sport special.

Update on July 2nd at 18:05 – As reported by Jonathan Noble over at Motorsport.com, the Drivers’ Press Conference format is radically different – and heavily extended.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place resulting in no media scrums, drivers are being interviewed team-by-team in a secure room. Anyone who has followed the tweets this afternoon from journalists will know it has been a drawn out process, hence Sky opting beforehand to air a 90-minute version later tonight.


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10 thoughts on “Scheduling: The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix

  1. I’m so excited not to be watching. I made the decision to no longer watch most racing in 2020, but it turned out I wouldn’t have done anyway. So it’s nice that I can finally make do on that promise to myself.

    So tired of getting angry hearing Martin Brundle and Christian Horner talking about going back to the “good old days” of F1 with V10 engines etc. All motorsport will be doing in the next decade is dying a slow death due to baby boomers kicking the bucket and millennials and zoomers not caring whatsoever. I even think FE and other electric racing might not have a future. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

    • I used to love this sport so much and since 2009 I’ve watched every race. Up until a couple of years ago I even watched all the practices too. And if someone like me no longer cares at all, then I think F1 should be extremely worried because the vast majority of fans are far more fickle than me.

  2. Is this the first time Sky has shown the F3 free practice session? Usually only qualifying and the races in previous seasons?

    • It is yes, I have to say I’m pleased they’re doing this, although I’d like the Porsche Supercup practice and qualifying too.

  3. 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights on channel 4. Is that right? Thats not highlights! As a casual fan I won’t be watching for that long! Want an hour tops for race highlights

  4. With an IMSA race at Daytona that night, Townsend Bell will be on the grounds of the IMSA race that night, so he won’t be at Indianapolis. Since it is a NASCAR Xfinity-NTT IndyCar Doubleheader Saturday with INDYCAR GMR GP on the IMS road course when the NASCAR Xfinity (second-tier) Shell 150, NBC may play around with commentary.

    Expect former local athletics legend Rick Schweiger as lead commentator (he is the NASCAR lead for NBC), with potentially the “around the horn” style for both both races. For INDYCAR, it would likely be Schweiger and Paul Tracy in the tower up to Turns 1-2-3, then Mike Bagley on the entrance of Hulman Straight, and with Jeff Burton or Dale Earnhardt Jnr, or Steve Letarte in the Museum to the Snake Pit complexes. Another possibility is to alternate Letarte and Tracy for the races (Letarte in NASCAR tower, Tracy in INDYCAR tower, the other will be in the Snake Pit turns).

    The style is praised by motorsport fans in the US who grew up listening to races on the radio.

  5. Sky EPG as of Wednesday evening does not have the Drivers Press Conference live – maybe someone knows why? Instead, they’re showing 1999 European GP Watchalong (again), Small Talk With Lewis Hamilton (again) and Austrian F1 Grand Prix 2019 (again).

    Would have thought that new material had more interest and was more important than repeats 🤨

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