Looking back at 10 years of Sky Sports F1

“Your new home of Formula 1. On PC, mobile, Sky Sports app, Red Button, high definition, and incredible 5.1 audio. This is Sky Sports F1 HD.”

After months of anticipation, 10 years ago today, Sky Sports F1 launched onto the air with a live show on launch night. The channel has changed over the last decade, with some features added, and others removed.

Here is how Motorsport Broadcasting has covered the last ten years…

July 29th, 2011 – After mounting speculation, the bombshell landed on the Friday prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that Sky Sports would be airing every Formula 1 session live from 2012 in a new seven-year deal with F1 and the BBC.

Immediately, speculation turned to who would be joining Sky, with the BBC’s then lead commentator Martin Brundle making his feelings clear on Twitter.

March 9th, 2012 – Supported by an advertising campaign under the ‘F1™ like never before’ banner, with Alistair Griffin’s Just Drive as the channel’s signature tune, Sky’s F1 channel launched nine days before the Australian Grand Prix.

Georgie Thompson and Ted Kravitz presented the inaugural edition of The F1 Show, also featuring contributions from Soccer AM’s John “Fenners” Fendley, who was on location during pre-season testing.

March 18th, 2012 – The 90-minute pre-race show we have come to know well over the past decade made its debut in Melbourne, with a now familiar line-up. Out of the 8 people that were part of Sky’s F1 team that weekend, 7 of them are still with the team now. Simon Lazenby presented, with David Croft and Brundle on commentary, the pair joining from BBC’s F1 team. A peak of just over one million viewers watched the opening race on Sky.

February 15th, 2013 – Motorsport Broadcasting revealed that Thompson had left the Sky F1 team after just one season, with suggestions swirling that Thompson wanted a bigger role heading into the 2013 season. Thompson presented the studio based F1 Show during 2012, a format which worked well, bringing fans closer to the detail outside the race weekend.

The format of The F1 Show has changed over the years: from a studio with no fans, to a live studio with fans, to on-site, from Friday’s to Saturday’s and everything in between, The F1 Show has not quite stuck to a consistent slot over its lifespan.

May 1st, 2014 – Arguably the best themed week that Sky has ever put together for F1: Senna Week. The week marked 20 years since Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola, with special programming focusing on both his and Roland Ratzenberger’s tragic accidents.

October 5th, 2014 – Sky’s most difficult race day broadcast: the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. The race came to an early conclusion after Jules Bianchi’s fatal accident. The channel went off-air for the remainder of the day, with no re-runs of the Grand Prix broadcast.

March 23rd, 2016 – Less than a week after Channel 4 aired Formula 1 for the first time, taking over the BBC’s free-to-air commitments, Sky and F1 announced that Sky would air F1 exclusively live from 2019. The deal, rumoured to be around £1 billion over six years, was one of the last signed while Bernie Ecclestone and CVC were running the sport.

> Flashback to 2016: Davidson and Brundle highlight strengths and weaknesses in Sky’s F1 team
> Flashback to 2019: Button stands out as Sky celebrates their 150th F1 race
> Flashback to 2020: The catalyst for change?

Since that deal was signed, as well as screening Formula Two and Formula Three, the Sky F1 channel has expanded its portfolio, now covering the IndyCar Series, British GT, and the GT World Challenge.

Late 2017 – Martin Turner steered the channel from inception through its infancy, before stepping down as Sky’s Director of F1 in 2017. Scott Young succeeded Turner, bringing Jenson Button and Karun Chandhok into the team as Sky’s new agreement with F1 in 2019 edged ever closer.

February 25th, 2019 – Possibly Young’s biggest undoing was thinking he could drop one of Sky’s most popular team members. The Ted Kravitz saga overshadowed the start of Sky’s new F1 contract in 2019, with Kravitz’s role reduced in the process.

March 2020 – The world as we knew it changed, with Formula 1 and the rest of the sporting world paused as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Esports and special historical programming got Sky through the first lockdown.

The crew returned on-site to Austria at the start of July, however, COVID continued to impact production, in particular the Race to Perfection documentary series. The series, celebrating 70 years of F1, fell victim to COVID with planned interviews shelved because of the pandemic.

December 12th, 2021 – Sky’s audiences have doubled in recent years, and continued to swell further as the 2021 season came to its conclusion. A peak of 2.66 million watched the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashed.

One week later, Sky’s coverage also aired free-to-air for the first time via Channel 4, with a peak audience of over 7 million viewers watching the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

March 9th, 2022 – Now, Sky celebrates 10 years of F1, heading into its eleventh season. Naomi Schiff is the latest talent to join Sky’s broadcast team, with a new show set to air on Monday evenings from next week called Any Driven Monday, recapping all the action from F1, F2, F3 and IndyCar.

Schiff presents the show alongside Matt Baker, which will air across the F1 channel and YouTube. Speaking about the announcement, Billy McGinty, who has since succeeded Young as Sky’s Director of F1, said “I’m delighted to welcome Naomi to our Sky Sports F1 team. I’ve watched Naomi’s career with interest, I’m excited she’ll be contributing to our coverage and co-hosting our new YouTube show Any Driven Monday.”

“Every year we strive to push the boundaries of broadcasting, whether that’s technology and innovation or multi-dimensional storytelling and this year will be no exception. We are seeing growth in motorsport fans year on year and it’s our role as the exclusive home of Formula 1 to continue to challenge ourselves and deliver the best coverage for our audiences.”

“2021 was an exceptional season for the sport and we look forward to more excitement and drama in 2022.”

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.

3 thoughts on “Looking back at 10 years of Sky Sports F1

  1. Wonder what free to air broadcasters will try to offer and who the runners and riders might be for when the bidding process begins for the next F1 rights. Presumably initial interest will be lodged at some point this year, with bids scrutinised in 2023? We presumably won’t know who the runners and riders might be for 2025 onwards until nearing the 2024 summer break?

  2. I’ve never fully understood how long Sky have the rights for. Many sites say until 2024 but does that include 2024 or is next year the last season of the current deal?

    Im hoping for F1TV Pro thats not locked in to Sky or maybe Amazon picking up the rights. I wonder what F1 will offer, if they will keep streaming rights for F1TV in the UK or sell out to Sky again for the money. Maybe a 10 races live and the rest highlights on C4 and F1TV Pro for UK would be a good way to do it. Let people see the new F1 for free and upsell the streaming.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.