Scheduling: The 2021 United States Grand Prix

With 6 races to go in the 2021 Formula One season, just 6 points separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton as the championship returns to Texas for the United States Grand Prix!

For UK viewers, the weekend offering from both Sky Sports and Channel 4 looks a little different to usual – hence why Motorsport Broadcasting has opted to publish a full schedule for the weekend.

F1 – the coverage

Channel 4’s offering is the weakest from a free-to-air broadcaster in decades, partly by choice, and partly inflicted upon them.

With qualifying starting at 21:00 UK time on Saturday, Channel 4 have opted to air qualifying on Sunday morning instead of a late-night Saturday slot, as they did in 2019.

Meanwhile, the race edit begins just after midnight on Sunday, the earliest Channel 4 can contractually air the race.

Channel 4 have trimmed both shows back compared to usual: a one-hour qualifying show airs on Sunday with an 85-minute programme covering the race. Expect limited commercials, and a weekend featuring primarily World Feed content.

The actual race edits should be the same length as usual, except without the usual bells and whistles that production company Whisper usually provide.

Given the closeness of the championship race, one wonders whether Channel 4 should have negotiated with Sky to bring the free-to-air highlights package forward, even by an hour to 23:05.

Doing so would unlikely deplete Sky’s live audience, but boost Channel 4’s figure significantly, resulting in a net gain overall. Thankfully this is not a championship decider, because having the F1 title won at 01:00 on free-to-air television is not in anyone’s interests.

By way of comparison, 30 years ago, the BBC aired a 50-minute highlights package of the US Grand Prix from Phoenix in a late night time slot on BBC Two.

Sky have seemingly reacted to Channel 4’s qualifying conundrum by opting to simulcast their live coverage on their new Sky Showcase channel, enabling more viewers to watch qualifying across Sky, Virgin Media and BT TV.

F1 – the team and W Series

With a reduced offering comes a change in presenter, as Lee McKenzie steps into Steve Jones’s presenting shoes for Channel 4.

Martin Brundle returns to Sky’s coverage after missing both the Russian and Turkish rounds, with Jenson Button also joining the team out in Austin.

For the first time, IndyCar and NASCAR star Danica Patrick joins Sky’s offering. One person not with Sky is Ted Kravitz, Kravitz part of the W Series team during the US Grand Prix weekend.

Live coverage of the W Series airs across More4 and Channel 4, the Saturday race airing on More4 with the season finale airing on Channel 4.

All F1 sessions are available to listen live via BBC’s F1 website

Thursday 21st October
21:00 to 22:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
22:00 to 22:30 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23:00 to 00:30 – F1: Drivers’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 22nd October
17:00 to 18:45 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 to 22:30 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)

Saturday 23rd October
18:45 to 20:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 18:55 to 20:05
20:30 to 21:00 – Hamilton vs Verstappen: The Season so Far (Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase)
21:00 to 23:45 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase)
=> Sky Showcase until 23:15
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 21:55 to 23:05
23:05 to 00:25 – W Series: Race 1 (More4)

Sunday 24th October
08:00 to 08:30 – W Series: Race 1 Highlights (Channel 4)

08:30 to 09:30 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)
16:30 to 18:00 – W Series: Race 2 (Channel 4)

18:30 to 23:00 – F1: Race
=> 18:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:55 – Race (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 19:45 to 22:00
=> 22:00 – Chequered Flag (Sky Sports F1)
00:05 to 01:30 – F1: Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Full scheduling details for the 2021 United States Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 15th October and are subject to change.

Meanwhile, MotoGP heads back to Misano, the Emilia Romagna race filling the void left by the cancellation of the flyaway rounds.

With a 52-point advantage, Fabio Quartararo is odds on favourite to win his first MotoGP World Championship. As always, live coverage of every session airs on BT Sport 2, with highlights airing on ITV4.

Elsewhere in motor racing, the British Touring Car Championship concludes with all the action from Brands Hatch airing live on ITV4.

Friday 22nd October
08:00 to 15:15 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
=> 08:00 – Moto3
=> 08:55 – MotoGP
=> 09:55 – Moto2
=> 12:15 – Moto3
=> 13:10 – MotoGP
=> 14:10 – Moto2

Saturday 23rd October
08:00 to 15:00 – Practice and Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
=> 08:00 – Moto3: Practice 3
=> 08:55 – MotoGP: Practice 3
=> 09:55 – Moto2: Practice 3
=> 11:35 – Moto3: Qualifying
=> 12:30 – MotoGP: Practice 4
=> 13:10 – MotoGP: Qualifying
=> 14:10 – Moto2: Qualifying

Sunday 24th October
07:30 to 14:30 – Races (BT Sport 2)
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3: Race
=> 11:00 – Moto2: Race
=> 12:30 – MotoGP: Race
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

Monday 25th October
20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

Full scheduling details for the 2021 Emilia Romagna MotoGP. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 15th October and are subject to change.

If plans change, this article will be updated.

Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal. If you wish to reproduce the contents of this article in any form, please contact Motorsport Broadcasting in the first instance.

A little thank you

Hi all,

I wanted to write this to say thank you to everyone who has donated to the fundraiser I have been running over the past few weeks.

As some of you will be aware, today (October 10th), I completed my first half marathon around the legendary Silverstone circuit in 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Today was extra special, because I was not only running for myself, to prove that I can do it, but I was also running to raise money for an awesome organisation which is close to my heart.

Racing Pride exists to positively promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity through motorsport, and is a movement developed in collaboration with Stonewall UK.

Having come out as bisexual in 2016, it only felt fitting to give back in my own way, and this felt like the perfect mechanism to do it. Organisation such as Racing Pride need our support so that they can perform their core activities each year.

In addition, running has helped me immensely through the pandemic, boosting my mental health as a result. In 18 months, I have gone from no running at all to running a half marathon.

The race itself today was tough, and my body feels a little bit broken right now! But I am so proud of where I have come from, and where I am now (both physically and mentally).

Many thanks to everyone who has donated, no matter how large or small, every penny will help Racing Pride in the months ahead.

There is still time to donate, so if you do want to contribute to the total, head over here – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dave-nelson-running-racing-pride

Thanks,
Dave
Owner and Editor of Motorpsort Broadcasting

Formula E’s ‘record breaking’ live audience figures fail to hide COVID slump

Formula E has continued to grow its live television audience during the seventh season, “reaching record breaking levels,” according to figures released by series organisers.

The season, which saw Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries clinch the Drivers’ Championship in Berlin, saw a cumulative audience of 316 million viewers tune in across the 15 races, a growth of 32% year-on-year.

Formula E says that the growth is “driven by new distribution agreements with free-to-air (FTA) channels in key markets,” in key markets such as Germany, Italy, Brazil, UK, France, USA, and Indonesia.

The championship says audiences in Germany increased by 336%, in Brazil by 286% and in the UK by 156%.

Jamie Reigle, Formula E’s Chief Executive Officer, said “This was a record-breaking year for Formula E as we worked with our teams, media partners and sponsors to deliver a fan-first strategy emphasising live race audience development and direct engagement on our digital platforms.”

“It’s clear there is strong fan interest in Formula E’s electric racing in cities and we are delighted to see our strategy of partnering with broadcasters committed to localised, engaging and accessible free-to-air coverage paying off.”

“We are set for a fantastic Season 8 as we welcome back fans at our races in some of the most iconic city locations in the world.”

“We are focused on strengthening our broadcaster footprint and relationships, increasing our global audiences and delivering an integrated media platform to serve our fans and support our continued growth.”

Formula E says that the live television audience makes up most of their audience (62%) for the first time, while the viewing duration has grown by 26% for each live race.

Press release masks overall decline

Most fans will look at the release issued by Formula E, and think that this is good news for the electric championship.

However, by portraying the data in this way, organisers have cleverly masked the overall decline in the race-by-race audience.

Formula E did record a cumulative audience of 316 million for season 7, which represents a 32% year-on-year growth, and both are factually accurate statements.

What the press release does not tell you, is that season 6 featured 11 races, with season 7 featuring 15 races, a 36% increase.

The cumulative audience was always likely going to jump, because there were more races in season 7 compared with season 6.

A 32% cumulative increase for Formula E represents a 3% decline year-on-year in the race-by-race average.

SeasonCumulative Audience% y-o-yAverage Audience% y-o-yRaces Held
2014-15 (1)Unknownn/aUnknownn/a11
2015-16 (2)192 millionUnknown19.2 millionUnknown10
2016-17 (3)223 million16%18.6 million-3%12
2017-18 (4)330 million48%27.5 million48%12
2018-19 (5)411 million25%31.6 million15%13
2019-20 (6)239 million*-42%21.8 million-31%11
2020-21 (7)316 million32%21.1 million-3%15
Source: Companies House accounts / Formula E press releases / Motorsport Broadcasting analysis
* never reported publicly, derived from the % increase for 2020-21 season.

Formula E’s metrics on both the television and social front surged between 2017 and 2019, with strong increases across the board as the series transitioned from Gen1 from Gen2 machinery.

As COVID struck though, Formula E suffered, with season 6 wrapped up across 6 races in Berlin, the season unusually finishing on a Thursday. With that in mind, a depleted season 6 average is more than understandable.

A further decline, even if only 3% year-on-year, shows that Formula E is struggling to recover from the pandemic, despite what series organisers may say, with audience figures now at their lowest level since season 3. An average of 21.1 million viewers worldwide tuned into each race during season 7.

On the social front, over the nine-month period from October 2020 to July 2021, Formula E’s following rose by 150,000, from 2.57 million followers to 2.71 million followers, or an increase of 5.5%.

These are small pickings for Formula E, who will be hoping for a more normal season 8, to get their metrics heading back in the right direction.

Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal. If you wish to reproduce the contents of this article in any form, please contact Motorsport Broadcasting in the first instance.