Formula E’s Sebastian Tiffert on Driver’s Eye, TV coverage, localised content and more…

The next two weeks are arguably the most frantic in Formula E’s six-year history. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, championship organisers have opted to wrap up the 2019-20 season with six races taking place over eight days at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

Finishing a championship on a warm Thursday during the holiday season in August is never ideal from an audience perspective, although Formula E have attempted to make the best out of a bad situation: all six races start on the edge of primetime in Europe to try to attract a bigger audience.

As the championship grows, so does its reputation and standing in motor sport. The Berlin finale ends season six for the electric series, a remarkable feat considering it very nearly went under half way through season one.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Motorsport Broadcasting caught up with Formula E’s Head of Content Sebastian Tiffert on how the championship has moved forward in recent times.

Celebrating the drivers
Tiffert’s first interactions with Formula E occurred through his previous role, where he was Eurosport’s Global Director of Motorsports.

Although not part of the paddock family on a race-by-race basis, his role allowed him to indirectly influence Formula E’s direction of travel from a marketing perspective.

“Prior to the start of season four, I attended a broadcaster workshop, which was really interesting,” Tiffert says.

“In there, we all collectively agreed on the fact that, because this was the flag I was waving at the time at Eurosport internally, that we need to get away from celebrating the championship or the cars, but we need to celebrate and build the profiles of the drivers, because they are the real heroes everybody can refer to.”

Sebastian Tiffert - Formula E Head of Content.png
Sebastian Tiffert – Head of Content at Formula E.

Tiffert cites the fact that Formula 1 fans do not remember Ayrton Senna as a driver of an individual team, but rather as an F1 driver, because of his supreme driving ability.

“I want fans to remember our drivers as Formula E drivers. What we are really focussing on, and what I was talking about when I was at Eurosport already, is how can we lift the profile of the drivers as that’s how we can build a fanbase and following.”

“One of the goals we have is to be able to elevate the profiles of the drivers, not in an artificial way, but rather in a way to explain to the fans how difficult it is what they do, because what they do is incredible.”

“They multi process everything at the same time, telling the engineers the regen, energy management, battery temperature, all whilst fighting for position and dealing with Fanboost,” Tiffert tells me.

“If you’ve watched the races so far this season, this is where we try to place the emphasis. The drivers have incredible skill, and this is something we want to put in front of everybody to make people realise that they are incredible.”

The road before Tiffert arrived on the Formula E scene was bumpy: they ditched their YouTube show Voltage half way through the 2018-19 season after just six races, one reason perhaps why their content teams have since been centralised into one division.

Released during lockdown, feature-length documentary And We Go Green helped shine a light on some of Formula E’s leading stars, although only 35,000 views so far on YouTube suggests that the film did not cut through in the way that Formula E were hoping for.

> Free-to-air “the right way forward” for Formula E in the short to medium-term

The overall intent is correct and we should applaud them because it is a well-made documentary, and broadcasters worldwide did air the film, however the timing of the release was perhaps not ideal due to the pandemic, plus the film focused on events that happened two years prior.

The release of And We Go Green is only one part of Formula E’s wider strategy to focus on the stars of the show.

Formula E have “humanised” their website, stripping back some of the more corporate assets and focusing more on original content, tailoring the content based on the readers location.

“We’re putting out much more original content on the website as well in different languages,” Tiffert says. “I believe in us needing local language content which relates to the local fan.”

“A French fan of Jean Eric Vergne won’t be very interested in the fact that someone else won the race, but he would rather know why JEV didn’t win the race.”

“The Champions League final between Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Liverpool fans are very much interested in their half of their story, and the same goes for Bayern fans.”

“It’s more complicated for us because we have so many nationalities racing, but doing it like this allows us to engage with the fans in a better way,” he believes.

Tiffert happy with TV coverage, Driver’s Eye a success to date
Formula E’s television coverage continues to be a joint venture between Aurora Media Worldwide and North One TV, which Tiffert says gives the best of both worlds.

“We’re very happy working with them and the partnership is very unique, allowing us to bring innovations like Driver’s Eye, Attack Mode and Fanboost, and then presenting it in a way to make it clear to people what has happened on the circuit.”

Positioned on the inside of the helmet, the Driver’s Eye camera angle weighs just 2.5 grams and is eight millimetres in diameter, which the FIA says is the first time a championship has used that angle in any of their sanctioned categories.

Tiffert joined Formula E from Eurosport in September 2019, at which point Driver’s Eye was far down the development road, but thanks to his role at Eurosport, Tiffert knew about Driver’s Eye early in 2019.

“It’s been a two-year journey for Formula E, if not longer, from figuring out what the idea is, getting ideas on the drawing board, and then bringing together all stakeholders, including the FIA.”

“Driver’s Eye is integrated into the helmet, so it has to be developed in a way so that it passes all of the homologation tests and obligations with the FIA, not compromising the driver’s safety, which is very important to us of course.”

“And then the next one was the engineering and development part, which was to make the camera that small, that stable and then to have the processors and the software which allows you to control the image from a distance.”

“The normal on-board shots from the car can be spectacular, but it’s very stabilised and it doesn’t move with the car, whereas this one is raw, which is the beauty of this camera, it’s so unique,” he adds.

Formula E’s intention, before COVID-19, was to increase the amount of Driver’s Eye cameras across the field gradually across season six, although Tiffert is keen not to sacrifice the quality for the sake of quantity, in his words “overwhelming” the product.

“We’re discussing all possibilities internally to see how far we can push this, and then time will tell what people are really interested in. But this is great content, an immersive experience where people may in the future only want to see the race from that camera angle.”

After a five-month hiatus, Formula E returns on Wednesday 5th August for the final hurdle of season six, with Vernon Kay leading the show as presenter, whilst Jack Nicholls returns in his role as lead commentator.

Interview was conducted earlier this year prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.


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How Fox have adapted their NASCAR offering during the COVID-19 pandemic

In a guest article, Jack Ainslie (@JackAinslie) looks at the first half of the NASCAR season, and how US broadcaster Fox have handed difficult issues during their coverage…

As readers of this site will be all too painfully aware, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed motor sport of action throughout most of the Spring and early Summer. However, this understandable absence was significantly shorter for one racing series – NASCAR.

The stock car association’s three major series – the top-tier NASCAR Cup Series and its two main feeders – were back to a socially distanced track in May. Unlike series such as Formula 1 and IndyCar, the NASCAR season had already begun back in February, with it running races nearly every week through to December. Yes, it is a lot of races!

Having followed the opening NASCAR races of 2020 to fill the F1 off-season, I decided to stick with the series when it returned in May.

Fans in the UK can access NASCAR through Premier Sports, with an affordable price of £9.99 per month giving you access to their online Premier Player. The channel also covers La Liga, NHL, and Scottish football amongst others.

In terms of NASCAR, the broadcaster covers all Cup Series races live with more limited coverage of the feeder Xfinity and Truck Series.

Premier Sports have little to no input over the coverage with them lifting the US broadcast ‘as-is,’ in a similar vein to how Sky Sports air NBC’s stateside coverage of IndyCar. Fox Sports airs the first half of the NASCAR season for US fans, with NBC taking over for the second half of the year.

The Fox half of the season has just concluded, perfect timing then to reflect on their offering.

Difficult issues covered in detail on-air in a year of change
NASCAR has been in the headlines for more than one controversial reason this year, with its association with Republican politics obvious in February when President Donald Trump visited the flagship Daytona 500 event.

However, in recent weeks the sport hit back at Trump after he criticised the sport’s only black driver Bubba Wallace for perpetrating a ‘hoax,’ an entirely false accusation and it was heartening to see him backed by many within the sport.

The series has engaged in significant discussions around the Black Lives Matter protests and has banned the Confederate flag, which was often visible on television, from its races.

The moves to detoxify NASCAR’s image are much needed and will help bring new fans to a series which provides exciting, unpredictable racing.

Indeed, viewing figures have increased over the past few weeks, reversing years of decline, despite Trump’s claims that figures are at a ‘record low.’ The high broadcast quality and the willingness of the commentators to engage in difficult conversations may have played a role in the audience increase.

Veteran lead commentator Mike Joy delivered some heartfelt words during a recent event. When Wallace’s team found a noose in the garage, later discovered to have been there since the previous race last year, Joy called it a ‘despicable act’ which flew ‘in the face of NASCAR’s efforts to build a culture which is diverse, equal and welcoming.’

Popular ex-driver and co-commentator Jeff Gordon also ensured he was part of the conversation throughout. Both him and Joy defended Wallace against the ridiculous criticisms he faced after the conclusion of the investigation.

Joy and Gordon have also succeeded in terms of their racing commentary during a year of change at the network.

Unusually, for American motorsport, they now commentate as a duo following the retirement of Darrell Waltrip last year. For the last few seasons Waltrip and Gordon had shared co-commentary duties with Joy delivering the play-by-play.

This is a more typical arrangement for American motorsport (Townsend Bell, Paul Tracy, and Leigh Diffey in IndyCar is an example of a current trio), so it was initially surprising to see Fox not replace Waltrip, though it has nevertheless worked.

Waltrip, renowned for his “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let’s go racin’ boys” start command, had huge respect as an analyst and advocate for driver safety, with the broadcast now having lost some of its more humorous side.

However, Gordon had already been providing far sharper analysis than Waltrip with his much more recent experience as a driver, having last competed in NASCAR full-time in 2015. Joy’s commentary style and Gordon’s sharp analysis make them perfect as a pair.

The pair also lends a more familiar, homely style, especially as Fox does not bounce around analysts as much as NBC’s IndyCar coverage, which has become particularly obvious and irritating this year after their strong performance last season, although things have improved in recent rounds. They also sensitively handled a serious accident involving Ryan Newman earlier in the season.

Former crew chief Larry McReynolds intervenes to provide analysis on strategy from Fox HQ in Charlotte, North Carolina, keeping some of the zaniness that Fox lost with Waltrip’s retirement. I can only imagine the madness when McReynolds, Joy and Waltrip used to be the commentary trio, until Gordon took McReynolds microphone following his racing retirement.

Fox’s pre-race coverage appears to be slimmer owing to the pandemic, with Joy and Gordon sometimes fronting the coverage rather than a studio host, although ex-driver Jamie McMurray also joins as an additional analyst at times.

Some races also include a build-up show called NASCAR Hub, presented by Shannon Spake with McReynolds and McMurray offering analysis, although this element is currently unavailable to UK fans.

Coverage benefits from excellent access level…
Fox’s on-air personnel access to drivers and strategists during races which an F1 journalist could only dream of, putting their coverage ahead of the field.

Reporters can interview crew chiefs during the race, whilst commentators can chat to drivers live during stage breaks (one of NASCAR’s many complications) and formation laps, both speaking to a wider positive relationship between the media and drivers.

Whilst I do not watch the Xfinity Series, Cup Series drivers often serve as analysts and commentators for the second tier of NASCAR.

Fox has also had driver-only broadcasts for the feeder series on occasion, with current Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick serving as lead commentator.

In addition to the incredible access to drivers and teams, Fox utilises an excellent array of camera angles. Drone cameras, helmet cameras and traditional onboards are just some of the options available to the television director.

The production team places the most impressive angles on the oval catch fencing, in my view truly showing the speed of the race cars as they skirt perilously close to the walls. I have also enjoyed the cockpit cameras which show the drivers wrestling with their cars, occasionally including their heart rate, revealing the true physical strength required to drive the machinery.

Unfortunately, the Premier Sports feed omits some of the standalone graphics which pair up with individual camera angles (e.g. telemetry), leading to a disjointed experience from one angle to the next.

…but the less said about adverts, the better
Despite the excellent qualities of Fox’s on-air personnel, as well as the fantastic racing, there are weaknesses to the product.

As is par for the course with American sport, it is frequently punctuated by ad breaks. Whilst Premier Sport do not cut to the ads, it does leave us Brits with no commentary for their duration. The inconsistent graphics also afflicts the breaks as the live leaderboard sometimes stays and sometimes goes.

Those who dedicate themselves to following every twist and turn may find themselves having to take multiple Monday’s off work.

Although most races air at around 20:00 UK time, races are frequently delayed by rain and thunderstorms. Oval racing cannot take place in the rain and thunderstorms are obviously a major safety concern.

The mid-afternoon start times in the US are peak storm time in many states and can result in hours long delays, or races moved to the Monday. Even the flagship Daytona 500 failed to miss the storm, moving to Monday after multiple rain delays which presumably hit Fox and NASCAR’s audience, not to mention revenues.

One area in which NASCAR does perform well is social media with their Twitter account having 3.4 million followers, significantly more than IndyCar, although NASCAR’s following has not increased to the level seen elsewhere recently.

Their channels have a nice mixture of content, with lots of video clips uploaded during the race. YouTube also offers plethora of highlights and other content, located on both the sport’s own channel as well as separate channels which the two main US broadcasters run.

Those who want to go even more in depth into the sport can find content such as Dale Earnhardt Jr’s (NBC co-commentator and ex-driver) podcast as well as highlights from the Xfinity and Truck series.

NASCAR is a difficult one to get into, as it does not follow the traditional motor racing championship system: NASCAR has stage points, playoff points and points for leading laps, making it all a tad confusing for the newbie.

It is also a sharp culture shock for British viewers where drivers are much more up front in blaming others, with the media playing up long running feuds between certain contenders. However, it has exciting racing and that is the main thing, right? Just enjoying the races on their own has worked for me. Do not be an oval snob!

Fox has done an admirable job in tough times in being able to put together a quality broadcast. Whilst I might not follow NASCAR as closely as I did during the F1 sabbatical I will certainly stick with the series as NBC take the reins for the back half of the 2020 season.

Have you watched NASCAR this year? What have you enjoyed or not enjoyed? Have your say in the comments below.

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Scheduling: The 2020 British Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads home for the second of its triple-headers this season, with the British Grand Prix!

As usual, the race airs live on free-to-air television, this year’s race airing across Channel 4, Sky One, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event, as well as on radio via BBC Radio 5 Live, giving fans plenty of options.

Although the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire hosts two races this season, only the first one will air live on Channel 4.

As revealed by Motorsport Broadcasting earlier this year, Channel 4’s contract with Sky only allows them to air the race titled the ‘British Grand Prix’ live, and not any race held at Silverstone live.

However, the site can confirm that Channel 4’s live coverage from both Silverstone races will come from the paddock for the first time this year, the team having based themselves from the Silverstone Experience during the first triple-header.

Joining Steve Jones from Silverstone will be David Coulthard, Ben Edwards, Mark Webber, Billy Monger and Lee McKenzie.

Over on 5 Live in the build-up to the weekend, Jennie Gow presents a special show looking back at 70 years of Silverstone, with guests including Coulthard, Webber and double World Champion Mika Hakkinen joining her.

Outside of the F1 sphere, both the World Superbikes and Formula E seasons get back underway, the latter restarting on Wednesday 5th August.

Scheduling clashes with the Snooker World Championship mean that Formula E’s first two races from Berlin will primarily air across Eurosport 2 and the BBC Sport website, the snooker taking priority for both.

The British Touring Car Championship also begins its campaign, with ITV4 providing extensive coverage from Donington Park.

Channel 4 F1
31/07 – 10:55 to 12:35 – Practice 1
31/07 – 14:55 to 16:35 – Practice 2
01/08 – 10:55 to 12:00 – Practice 3
01/08 – 13:00 to 16:00 – Qualifying
02/08 – 13:00 to 17:00 – Race
=> 13:00 – Build-Up
=> 13:45 – Race
=> 16:15 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
31/07 – 10:30 to 12:50
=> 10:30 – Welcome to the Weekend (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 11:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
31/07 – 14:45 to 16:45 – Practice 2
01/08 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3 (also Sky One)
01/08 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky One)
02/08 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
31/07 – 17:30 to 18:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
05/08 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
28/07 – 20:00 to 22:00 – 70 Years of Silverstone (BBC Radio 5 Live)
30/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
31/07 – 10:55 to 12:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
31/07 – 14:55 to 16:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/08 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/08 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
02/08 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Berlin (Eurosport 2)
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
All sessions are available live on BBC’s website
05/08 – Race 1
=> 17:45 to 19:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 18:00 to 19:00 (BBC Red Button)
06/08 – Race 2
=> 17:45 to 19:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 18:00 to 19:00 (BBC Red Button)

British Touring Car Championship – Donington Park (ITV4)
02/08 – 10:35 to 18:15 – Races

Ferrari Challenge – Portimao (Sky Sports F1)
01/08 – 16:55 to 17:55 – Race 1 (tape-delay)
02/08 – 17:30 to 18:30 – Race 2 (tape-delay)

Formula Two – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
31/07 – 12:50 to 13:40 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
31/07 – 16:55 to 17:30 – Qualifying
01/08 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
02/08 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Formula Three – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
31/07 – 09:30 to 10:20 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
31/07 – 14:00 to 14:45 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/08 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
02/08 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
02/08 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)

World Superbikes – Jerez
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
01/08 – 09:45 to 12:00 – Qualifying 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/08 – 12:30 to 15:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
02/08 – 09:45 to 12:15 – Qualifying 2 (Eurosport 2)
02/08 – 12:45 to 15:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
06/08 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

If the scheduling details change, this post will be updated.

Update on July 31st – Good news: the first two Formula E races from Berlin will now also air live on the Red Button after all.


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Behind the lens with BT Sport MotoGP as racing resumes

This weekend, MotoGP roars back into life in Jerez, Spain after a four-month back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life for all involved in the championship will be radically different as the championship adjusts to the ‘new normal.’

As revealed by Motorsport Broadcasting last month, access to the paddock will be limited to key personnel and major television crews only, with all other journalists remaining off-site.

On the UK front, television broadcaster BT Sport are remaining in the UK, opting to present their programming from Triumph’s Visitor Experience Centre in Hinckley, albeit with all social distancing regulations in place.

Lockdown life for BT
Whilst most of Europe was in lockdown, BT took the opportunity to prepare for the road ahead, presenting 36 hours of MotoGP programming remotely across 11 weeks, and exploiting MotoGP’s rich archive in the process.

Despite the natural challenges surrounding remote broadcasting, arguably the end solution was better than BT could have ever expected in the circumstances, an ‘extreme’ solution as described by Kevin Brown, BT’s MotoGP series editor at production house North One.

“The engineers at BT and our partners at Timeline are brilliant. They’ve been working on remote solutions for a while for sustainability reasons, but those plans were accelerated very, very quickly to make it work,” explained Brown.

“What it meant was that the usual gallery of people working on a TV production was spread around into their homes by using technical solutions to make that happen.”

“I think the best way to describe it is extreme because it hadn’t been done before and it ended up with us being able to make 36 hours of MotoGP programming across 11 weeks, which we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.”

The channel started off with whittling down MotoGP’s classic races over five weeks, with the 2009 Catalunya battle between Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo crowned The Greatest Race. Following the initial five episodes was another series of episodes looking at MotoGP’s Greatest Years.

BT Sport MotoGP - Triumph Studio 1.png
Suzi Perry and Neil Hodgson on hand at BT’s main studio location in the Triumph building…

Fans engaged with both programming strands, each generating social media traffic in the process for BT, helping to fill the racing void for motorcycling fans around the country, all done remotely, and with no obvious teething issues from the outset, which Brown says is a “testament to all working on the production,” despite the scale of change involved.

“For all of us, it was a big change to how we’ve done things previously. The presenters had to build and set the kit up themselves remotely, engineering their own television studio essentially! Everybody has had to adapt, and I think with coronavirus, we’ve all had to do different things to get the show up and running,” Brown said.

“It was a very different kind of programme because we were generating the content rather than reacting to it, and there were fewer people working on it. It was a way of using what we know is fantastic archive, but to put a modern spin on it, encouraging viewer engagement. At the time, there was no sport on the television, there was nothing for people to talk about.”

The return of present-day sport
Fast-forward, and MotoGP returns this weekend, however social distancing regulations remain. Having perfected remote broadcasting during lockdown, BT are continuing down that path, for the moment at least, but with the experience from lockdown now in their back pocket.

Although the BT’s presentation team of Suzi Perry, Gavin Emmett, Keith Huewen, Michael Laverty, and Neil Hodgson are presenting the coverage from Triumph’s Hinckley base, the production aspect of the coverage continues to be remote.

Triumph is a relevant base for BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, given their involvement with MotoGP as Moto2’s core engine supplier.

A skeleton crew will be present in Hinckley, three people will be based at Timeline’s production facility in London, with nine people working from home.

“The learning that we were able to do over the 11 weeks of those two series’ has stood us in good stead for this because we were able to use this remote setup,” Brown tells me.

“We couldn’t put the nine people who are working from home in a gallery because there wouldn’t be a gallery big enough to cater for social distancing. We’re trying to make it as close as possible to our normal production, but without putting anybody’s safety at risk.”

“The main thing is, we all want to make programming, we all want to see sport back again, but the overriding thing has to be that we keep people safe.”

Safety is key for BT, and to that effect the crew will be in different places across Triumph’s base, with the touch pad located in a different area of the building compared to the main socially distanced set. Floor markings identify which direction the presentation team must walk in throughout the weekend.

Similarly, Perspex screens will separate the four commentary booths, with each desk two meters long, allowing for BT to continue their usual policy of rotating their commentary team with each session.

“It’s all been set up so they don’t share lip mics, they won’t have the same talkback keys, they won’t have the same computer screens, all of those things have been carefully considered,” explains Brown, who himself will be based down in London for the duration of the weekend.

“The Perspex screen though means that they will still be able to see each other and obviously because the interaction between the commentators is quite crucial, we felt that was an important thing to be able to do.”

Only one of the pundits will be with Perry in the main studio area, and similarly only one person will be directing the touch screen at any given time.

Brown praises Dorna co-operation
The touch screen will allow Emmett to interview riders throughout the weekend, including post-race, and Brown praises the co-operation with MotoGP’s commercial rights holder Dorna during this period.

BT Sport MotoGP - Triumph Studio 2.png
…whilst Gavin Emmett takes control of the touch screen.

“I always feel the job of a sports production is to take people to an event they can’t go to, and right now they really can’t go to the event, so I think it becomes even more important for us to try to get people closer to what’s going on.”

“Not being in the paddock is always going to be a disadvantage, however Dorna have been brilliant throughout. They understand that we’re not going to be travelling and they’ve done their best to help us with that.”

“The riders and the teams have been briefed that when they do their interviews with us, they will have headphones and a mic which will allow them to interact with our studio. It means that, although we’re not there, we’re hopefully able to bring people closer by having the key characters still interacting with our presentation,” Brown says.

Although this period has been tough for everyone, Brown says that BT have learnt a lot.

“What I think we’ve learnt over lockdown is that we can be agile enough to adapt in the circumstances, and I think that’s something BT can be really proud of.”

“We were able to continue making MotoGP programmes when there wasn’t any MotoGP, and we were able to continue doing it when there wasn’t any access to any TV studios. I think that’s shown a lot of agility and a lot of resourcefulness, just to keep motorbike racing on the telly, which in the end is what people want to watch,” he tells me.

For at least the next five races, Triumph will be the home of BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage. Beyond that, is anyone’s guess. For now, let us enjoy the ride as MotoGP accelerates back off the start line.


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Scheduling: The 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix / Spanish MotoGP

The first triple header of the 2020 Formula One season concludes with the teams and drivers taking a 260-mile trip across the border from Austria into Hungary for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The main change from a TV perspective this weekend is that Channel 4’s highlights programme airs an hour later, from 19:30 to 22:00. The change is likely to cover up gaps in Channel 4’s own programming schedule arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unusually, the 5 Live schedule for F1 is blank, because every session is airing on the BBC website only, and there is no Preview schedule on BBC Radio 5 Live either, as Premier League football, FA Cup semi-finals and cricket pushes F1 down the BBC’s pecking order.

On the personnel front, Jenson Button is not with the Sky team in Hungary, but will be rejoining the team in Silverstone.

Over in Spain, the MotoGP season gets underway with a double-header at Jerez, as Marc Marquez looks to triumph once again.

For MotoGP, it is the first round of the year, however for Moto2 and Moto3 it is round two of the year after they managed to kickstart their season in Qatar back in March.

BT’s coverage comes from Triumph’s main base in Hinckley, with the usual team of Suzi Perry, Gavin Emmett, Keith Huewen, Neil Hodgson amongst those guiding viewers through the championship this year.

As with F1, some pay TV broadcasters are travelling to Jerez, however Dorna have prohibited all other journalists from the circuit itself.

For those that did not watch Moto2 or Moto3 from Qatar, keep an eye on MotoGP’s new graphics set for 2020 during the Jerez weekend.

Free-to-air highlights of MotoGP again air on Quest in a Monday evening time slot.

Elsewhere, in an interesting development, Sky Sports F1 are airing live coverage of the Ferrari Challenge series where possible this year, as they continue to grow their non-F1 motor sport portfolio.

It is not Sky Sports F1’s only acquisition recently: they are also airing extensive coverage of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance and Sprint Cup championships this year for the first time.

Channel 4 F1
18/07 – 18:45 to 20:15 – Qualifying Highlights
19/07 – 19:30 to 22:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
17/07 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
17/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
18/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
18/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
19/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
17/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
22/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website

MotoGP – Spain (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
17/07 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
17/07 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
18/07 – 08:00 to 15:45
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE
19/07 – 07:15 to 14:30
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Spain (Quest)
20/07 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Ferrari Challenge – Catalunya (Sky Sports F1)
18/07 – 17:10 to 18:10 – Race 1
19/07 – 17:30 to 18:30 – Race 2 (tape-delay)

Formula Two – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
17/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
18/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
19/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
17/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
18/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
19/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Iowa (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 22:30 to 23:30 – Qualifying 1
17/07 (Friday night) – 01:30 to 04:30 – Race 1
18/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Qualifying 2
18/07 (Saturday night) – 01:30 to 04:00 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Porsche Supercup – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
19/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Winton
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
18/07 – 06:30 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
19/07 – 02:30 to 04:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)
19/07 – 05:30 to 07:00 – Race 3 (BT Sport 2)

This post will be updated if details change.


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