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 websiteFull scheduling details for the 2021 United States Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 15th October and are subject to change.
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)
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 OctoberFull scheduling details for the 2021 Emilia Romagna MotoGP. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 15th October and are subject to change.
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)
If plans change, this article will be updated.
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