Sky “unlikely” to make potential F1 title deciding season finale available on a free-to-air basis

Sky Sports are “unlikely” to make coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix available on a free-to-air basis if the F1 championship battle goes down to the wire, current plans from the broadcaster indicate.

8 points separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, with two races remaining.

If Verstappen does not clinch the championship at the next round in Saudi Arabia, it will be the first time since 2016 that the championship has gone to the final race of the season.

In 2016, the season finale aired live across Channel 4 and Sky Sports as part of the UK F1 TV rights agreement that was in place at that time.

Now, apart from the British Grand Prix, every race airs exclusively live on Sky Sports, with highlights on Channel 4.

The Abu Dhabi race could be the first F1 race in around 40 years where the Drivers’ Championship has gone down to the wire, without live coverage airing on free-to-air television in the UK.

Speaking to Motorsport Broadcasting, Sky said “The race is unlikely to be free to air on December 12th. Highlights will be available on Channel 4 as always.”

Current Channel 4 schedules show that highlights of qualifying will air at 18:55 on Saturday 11th December, with race highlights airing at 17:30.

Sky’s schedules show that the broadcaster will simulcast their race day offering across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event, but not via Sky Showcase, as they did last month for coverage of the US Grand Prix qualifying session.

The 2021 season continues on Friday 3rd December with coverage of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

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6 thoughts on “Sky “unlikely” to make potential F1 title deciding season finale available on a free-to-air basis

  1. This perhaps isn’t as much of a surprise as it might have been, given we already know that Sky’s figures are increasing, whereas channel 4’s figures have been decreasing. That said, “a week is a long time in politics”. The same can be very much true in the world of motor sport.

  2. Make sense, they have paid a lot of money to secure the exclusive rights.

    When the premier league goes down to the final day, those games aren’t made available on a free to air channel. Last weekend WRC final wasn’t made available live on a free to air channel.

    Got to be honest, when many of us have paid to watch the action live, why should other who’ve chosen not to pay get the title showdown live?

    1. Completely agree, but I’m also very fed up of having to pay for all the football I never watch, and no subtitles any more for F1, hasn’t been any for at least the last 3 races, I’ve complained, but to no avail, doesn’t say much for their diversity support for disabled paying viewers.

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