Sky Sports to present F1 coverage on location as FIA sets out ‘Return to Motor Sport’ guidance for media

Sky Sports will present coverage of the upcoming 2020 Formula One season on-site, multiple on-air personalities have confirmed.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presented questions as to whether broadcaster such as Sky would present coverage on-site.

Writing on Twitter earlier this week, Sky’s F1 presenter Simon Lazenby confirmed Sky’s plans.

“For those asking, Sky Sports F1 will be on site in Austria, hoping to bring you as close to the action as we possibly can. It’s been a long wait,” he said.

In addition, speaking on The Notebook, Ted Kravitz noted the news separately.

Sky have yet to formally confirm their coverage plans, either through their website or to Motorsport Broadcasting separately.

Last week, this site confirmed that Channel 4 will present the opening phase of the new season from a location in the UK.

Fewer journalists on-site…
Elsewhere, the FIA have set out their recommendations for all working at the race track during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the considerations for media working the event.

The organisation recommends “a separation of two meters between individuals” in areas of the paddock where this is possible.

A key theme throughout the media guidance is that the governing body suggests that media outlets work remotely where feasible.

The FIA recommends that host broadcasters only bring talent who are “essential to the delivery of the TV broadcast” to the circuit, with all other aspects of the broadcast produced remotely.

On the media front, the FIA suggests that a small group of media agencies, covering the largest audience reach, work together to produce interviews, making content available to journalists who are off-site.

The guidance does not name specific media outlets given that each championship has its own set of stakeholders and reach, but the FIA has designed their guidelines to encompass all entities.

…and the end of the media pen
The media pen interviews that are commonplace across motor sport are likely over, for now.

Instead, the governing body recommends replacing the media pen and group interviews with pooled unilateral TV interviews, held in a centralised space within the paddock and distributed to all outlets.

However, the post-qualifying and post-race press conferences for the top three drivers remain, but floor space replaced “with spaces adhering to social distance guidelines,” similar in layout to how the UK government currently conducts its current daily briefing.

Clearly, these changes mean that there will be less on offer in terms of supplementary content across the board, but it is a necessary price as motor sport returns to action.

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Channel 4 to present opening phase of 2020 F1 season ‘off-site’

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.

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