Billy Monger has tested positive for COVID-19, and will not be part of Channel 4’s Formula 1 or W Series coverage this weekend, Motorsport Broadcasting has learnt.
Monger’s positive test has forced most of Channel 4’s team to isolate out in Austria, including presenter Steve Jones and lead commentator Alex Jacques.
Neither Jacques, Jones or Monger will be part of the broadcaster’s offering this weekend, significantly impacting their F1 and W Series broadcasts.
Whisper, who produce Channel 4’s F1 and W Series programming, have confirmed that Ben Edwards will commentate on their broadcasts from the UK, with David Coulthard remaining on-site in commentary.
It is the third time Edwards has stepped back into the commentary box after departing Channel 4’s coverage at the end of 2020.
Edwards was part of BBC’s Radio 5 Live F1 offering during the Spanish round, as well as last weekend’s French Grand Prix.
With Jones also absent, Coulthard and Mark Webber will present Channel 4’s F1 output for the Styrian race weekend, while Naomi Schiff will present the W Series programming.
A Whisper spokesperson said “Whisper can confirm that a member its production team has tested positive for Covid-19 since arriving in Austria ahead of the Formula One event and W Series event this weekend.”
“Whisper produces the W Series Host Broadcast and highlights of F1 for Channel 4. As a result, some of the Whisper production team are now isolating, in line with FIA protocol until further notice.”
Both Whisper and Channel 4 independently said “As soon as we were made aware this team member was feeling unwell, precautions were taken immediately to isolate both him and any people who may have come into contact with him and we are undertaking all necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.”
W Series finalises worldwide broadcast plans for season 2, but no coverage on F1’s over-the-top platform
The W Series has confirmed its worldwide broadcasting plans for season two, expanding its reach on the first season.
As well as their previously announced agreement with UK free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4, the series says that it will air in over 175 markets this season, with coverage on “leading broadcasters including Channel 4, Sky Deutschland, Ziggo, NENT, RTVE & TV3, Canal+ and RTBF.”
W Series’ exclusive agreement with Channel 4 means that Sky Sports F1 will not be covering the championship in the UK.
This in in-line with W Series’ arrangements in 2019, however is more of a surprise now given that the all-female series is part of the F1 support package for this season.
Sky showed interest in the series: a report from SportBusiness reveals that the pay-TV broadcaster put in a ‘significant rights fee’ to cover W Series, only for series organisers to turn them down.
In addition, there will be no live coverage of W Series via F1’s over-the-top platform.
The format of the W Series broadcast from a UK perspective will be like 2019, with each race featuring around 30 minutes of build-up and 15-minutes of post-race analysis.
UK schedules for the first two rounds show that the broadcast, produced by Whisper, begins at 15:00, with lights out at 15:30.
However, the first race from the Red Bull Ring on Saturday 26th June airs on More4, owing to live men’s Rugby Union action, with the British and Irish Lions’ taking on Japan live on Channel 4.
To compensate, a shorter 30-minute highlights package airs on Channel 4’s main station on Sunday morning.
Saturday 26th JuneFull UK scheduling details for the first two rounds of W Series 2021. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 25th June and are subject to change.
15:00 to 16:20 – Styria: Race (More4)
Sunday 27th June
08:30 to 09:00 – Styria: Highlights (Channel 4)
Saturday 3rd July
15:00 to 16:15 – Austria: Race (Channel 4)
It is unclear at this stage if Monger’s positive test will impact coverage of Channel 4’s broadcasts next weekend for the second round from the Red Bull Ring.
Last updated on Friday 25th June.
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