A new decade, a new name: reviewing the motor sport journalism landscape

The start of the 2020 motor racing season sees a new name enter the starting grid in the journalism world, following a winter of change for many involved in the sector.

Just how much has the scene changed in the off-season, and what can we expect to see moving forward? Motorsport Broadcasting looks at what 2020 has to offer…

The Race enters the market…
Part of the Torque Esports Group, The Race intends to shake up motor sport journalism with its offering this year across five different content strands (Formula 1, MotoGP, IndyCar, Formula E and E-Sports).

Led by Andrew van de Burgt and Glenn Freeman under the watch of Darren Cox, the trio have brought Edd Straw, Matt Beer and Scott Mitchell in from Autosport to front their F1 offering.

In addition, Sam Smith leads their Formula E coverage, whilst ex-MCN Sport correspondent Simon Patterson leads their MotoGP reporting.

Other familiar names, such as ex-F1 technical director Gary Anderson and broadcaster Toby Moody also shape The Race’s coverage this season.

Limiting The Race’s remit to five pillars to begin with is a good idea in my view. I am always of the viewpoint that it is better to cover several topics brilliantly, rather than many topics shoddily. Let the readers, and the underlying data points, tell you where to go for the next step of your journey.

The Race has followed in The Athletic’s footsteps by bringing in established names from elsewhere in the hope of hooking fans onto their product.

Crucially, I understand that The Race, unlike The Athletic, will remain free for fans to consume, which should allow them to build a solid foundation to begin with.

The way the site covered Haas’ F1 launch was a positive early sign, with plenty of analysis across their platforms.

Websites - The Race.png
The Race’s website homepage as of February 15th, 2020.

Personally, I hope the site does not report day-to-day chatter in substantial detail, otherwise the analytical pieces may be less noticeable amongst the noise.

One might argue that The Race should not run live text feeds for example, instead using that resource to produce distinctive content – otherwise the brand may end up in an identity crisis: trying to be different, but keeping it same-y in tandem.

…presenting opportunity for journalists, young and old…
The Race’s arrival on the scene has created opportunity for a new generation of talent elsewhere.

Respected motor sport journalist Luke Smith arrives into the Motorsport Network fold at Autosport from Crash Media Group, whilst Alex Kalinauckas moves up to join Smith in the F1 paddock this year.

Kalinauckas’ exit from the Formula E paddock means Matt Kew moves into the vacancy left by Kalinauckas.

Unfortunately for the Richmond-based outlet, the exits have not slowed down recently, with Autosport.com international editor Jack Benyon the most recent to announce his departure.

Irrespective of your viewpoint on the wider Motorsport Network decision making, it is imperative for the future of Autosport that they stem the flow quickly, bringing back a sense of stability which they lost late last year.

Can Autosport bounce back? Yes. Will Autosport bounce back? The verdict is out, but I really hope it does. It is important for motor sport journalism that The Race succeeds, however it is equally important that Autosport remains in its current form.

More opportunities for budding journalists can only be a good thing, as the three vacancies that Autosport currently have online show (here, here, and here).

For all the talk about The Race over the past few weeks, it is Autosport that has the brand name and a large following attached to it that The Race does not yet possess, which is to be expected when comparing a start-up with a 70-year old brand.

That helps when you look at this from a search engine perspective rather than a social media perspective: the bigger reach of Autosport will undoubtedly help them compared with The Race in the short to medium-term.

Websites - Autosport.png
Autosport’s website homepage as of February 15th, 2020.

Alongside Autosport is Motorsport.com under the Motorsport Network banner, where the likes of Jonathan Noble remain.

…whilst some try to break into the upper echelons…
The Race’s competition is not just Motorsport Network, and to think that is a foolish statement to make.

The likes of Crash Media Group, RaceFans and Motorsport Week are all trying to break into Motorsport Network’s monopoly, some succeeding more than others.

Outside of F1, there are websites that specialise in other forms of motor sport.

Most recently, Inside Electric has established itself as an independent Formula E website, whilst DirtFish has expanded on its World Rally Championship offering, taking esteemed journalist David Evans with them in the process.

Number of followers on Twitter as of February 15th
323k – Autosport (Feb 2009)
152k – WTF1 (Nov 2019)
139k – Motorsport.com (Apr 2009)
98k – RaceFans (Feb 2008)
60k – Motor Sport Magazine (Mar 2009)
34k – Motorsport Week (Mar 2009)
34k – Crash.net (Jan 2009)
15k – Touring Car Times (Jul 2009)
14k – Motorsport Broadcasting (Feb 2012)
12k – DirtFish (Dec 2010)
10k – The Race (Jan 2020)
10k – Dailysportscar News (Jun 2015)
4k – e-racing.net (Mar 2014)
4k – e-racing365 (Oct 2016)
1k – Inside Electric (Sep 2019)

There are only a limited number of hours in the day, and there is a limited pool of passionate motor sport fans, so The Race’s arrival is likely to negatively impact the above sites in my opinion. How quickly The Race grows will dictate the impact it has elsewhere.

If you are a site which has small profit margins, a difference of 5 to 10 percent in your audience year-on-year could be the difference between another year online or closure.

Whilst The Race may succeed in driving up the quality of motor sport journalism, there could (regrettably) be casualties elsewhere. However, sites should only feel threatened by the emergence of The Race if they themselves fear extinction in the first place.

In just over a month, The Race has amassed 10,000 followers on Twitter. In isolation, the figure is relatively small, but consider that the likes of Crash.net and Motorsport Week have 34,000 followers built up over a ten-year period!

That is not a dig at either site, merely a reflection on why The Race opted to bring in the people they did instead of plucking for unknown talent.

Websites - WTF1.png
WTF1’s website homepage as of February 15th, 2020.

It would be amiss to not mention F1 themselves, who have in-house journalists working for their website. Yes, F1 competing against journalists that they accredit to their own events. No, that is not a mistake, nor a typo…

…and others exist to entertain
One name referenced above is WTF1, which Dennis Publishing acquired last year.

WTF1 may exist primarily to entertain rather than to break news stories, however, the site now regularly reports news to a much younger audience thanks to the brand that the team have built over the past ten years.

Arguably, WTF1 is a bigger brand to the younger generation of motor sport fans than what Autosport currently is.

Despite scooping the exclusive story with the Haas livery unveil, WTF1 received far more engagement across social media than The Race, thanks to their loyal audience.

If The Race wants to be a successful player in the long-term and become an attractive proposition to potential future buyers outside of the Torque stable, it needs to establish a middle ground between Motorsport Network’s audience base (Autosport / Motorsport) and WTF1.

How it does that is not an easy task given that The Race wants to give readers a more analytical view of the world. Although they exist on opposite ends of the Richter scale, both entities have an interest in the Esports space, which may present opportunities further down the line.

One thing is for certain: the future is all to play for…


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Scheduling: The 2020 Mexico City E-Prix / Rally Sweden

Formula E heads north from Chile to Mexico, for round three of the 2019-20 season.

For UK viewers, the race takes place in prime-time hours, with the main event beginning at 22:00. As always, the action airs live across BBC’s digital platforms and Eurosport, with additional highlights airing on Discovery’s free-to-air channel Quest.

Meanwhile, BT Sport plays host to a depleted Sweden leg of the World Rally Championship, with half of the expected itinerary wiped due to unseasonably warm weather.

As a result, the Swedish rally now has 11 stages, but that could still change further, meaning that the scheduling details below could change further as the week unfolds.

Formula E – Mexico City
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
15/02 – Qualifying
=> 17:30 to 19:00 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 17:35 to 18:45 (Eurosport 2)
15/02 – Race
=> 22:00 to 23:00 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 21:55 to 23:00 (Eurosport 2)
16/02 – 06:00 to 07:00 – Highlights (Quest)

World Rally Championship – Sweden (All Live)
Also airs live on WRC+ (£)
13/02 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
=> 19:08 – Stage 1
14/02 – 05:45 to 15:30 – Stages 2 to 4 and Stage 8 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 07:42 – Stage 2
=> 09:08 – Stage 3
=> 10:00 – Stage 4
=> 14:00 – Stage 8
15/02 – 05:45 to 15:30 – Stages 5 to 7 and Stage 16 (BT Sport Extra 3)
=> 07:42 – Stage 5
=> 09:00 – Stage 6
=> 10:05 – Stage 7
=> 14:00 – Stage 16
16/02 – 07:45 to 12:45 – Stages 17 and 18 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 09:00 – Stage 17
=> 11:10 – Stage 18

World Rally Championship – Sweden
Live stage times on linear BT Sport channels to be confirmed
14/02 – 22:00 to 22:30 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
15/02 – 23:00 to 23:30 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/02 – 23:00 to 23:30 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
18/02 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

When further revised details about WRC’s Sweden coverage are confirmed for the weekend, this post will be updated.


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Scheduling: The 2020 F1 Pre-Season Tests

Every day. Every minute. Live.

Formula 1 springs back into life with two pre-season tests, both of which take place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

Last year, F1 experimented by airing the first test live via their over-the-top platform, with Sky Sports also covering the afternoon sessions live.

Thanks to the positive response, F1 are taking testing further than ever before this year, with every minute airing live via Sky Sports for fans in the UK and Italy, as well as F1 TV Pro for the territories the over-the-top service is available in.

11 new countries get their hands on F1 TV Pro for the first time this season, including South Africa. However, the UK remains absent from the list.

As well as opening up garages during testing, F1 promises an improved live timing feed for testing which will presumably feed through to the on-screen graphics set.

In addition to the on-track action, a one-hour wrap-up show called The Story so Far will air following the first five days. As of writing, there is no word on who will be covering testing, but F1 says it will be a hybrid of Sky and F1 talent on hand to call the action.

For F1 TV Access subscribers (which UK fans can subscribe to), F1 has confirmed that exclusive content from Will Buxton and Jolyon Palmer will feature during the testing period, as well as lunch time press conferences for fans to watch.

In total, 53 hours of live action is set to air over the six days of testing, more than enough to whet the appetite ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix in March.

F1 Testing – Barcelona (Sky Sports F1)
11/02 – 17:30 to 18:15 – Ferrari Car Launch
13/02 – 13:30 to 14:00 – McLaren Car Launch
19/02 – 07:55 to 18:00 – Day 1
=> 07:55 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session
=> 17:00 – The Story so Far
20/02 – 08:00 to 18:00 – Day 2
=> 08:00 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session
=> 17:00 – The Story so Far
21/02 – 08:00 to 18:00 – Day 3
=> 08:00 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session
=> 17:00 – The Story so Far
26/02 – 08:00 to 18:00 – Day 4
=> 08:00 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session
=> 17:00 – The Story so Far
27/02 – 08:00 to 18:00 – Day 5
=> 08:00 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session
=> 17:00 – The Story so Far
28/02 – 08:00 to 17:00 – Day 6
=> 08:00 – Morning Session
=> 12:00 – Break
=> 13:00 – Afternoon Session

As always, schedules are subject to change, and this article will be updated if needed.

Update on February 6th – F1 has today issued a press release confirming testing details, which is now included in the main body above.


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Flashback: 2005 Australian A1 Grand Prix

What do the last names Verstappen and Yoong have in common? Yes, both were Minardi drivers in Formula 1. But both also competed in the inaugural season of A1 Grand Prix, and that is where the latest instalment of flashback takes Motorsport Broadcasting to.

A1 Grand Prix launched 15 years ago to much fanfare, with a glitzy season opener at Brands Hatch. Just four years later, financial issues confined the World Cup of Motorsport to history. Although the series itself ended into 2009, it took until 2015 for the company itself to be dissolved.

But, memories of the series remain scattered across the web. Unfortunately, this is not in one centralised place, and given that A1 Grand Prix has long gone, the chances of that happening at all is unlikely. One can dream, however…

> What went wrong with A1 Grand Prix?

In terms of its position and scheduling, A1 Grand Prix was the Formula E of 2000’s, although the latter has outlived the former. Life for Sky Sports in the UK before Formula 1 consisted of A1 Grand Prix and IndyCar, amongst other forms of motor sport.

Initially, Sky gave A1 lots of attention, so much so that the first ever race day from Brands bumped the football Super Sunday off Sky Sports 1!

Once the initial attention drifted, the series settled down, and flashback takes us to the Eastern Creek Raceway in Australia, which played host to the fourth round of the season.

  • Date: Sunday 6th November 2005
  • Channel: Sky Sports 3
  • Time: 02:00 to 05:30
    • 02:30 – Sprint Race
    • 04:00 – Feature Race
  • Presenter: Georgie Thompson (Sky)
  • Reporter: Lee McKenzie (A1)
  • Reporter: Gareth Jones (A1)
  • Commentator: Ben Edwards (A1)
  • Commentator: John Watson (A1)
  • Analyst: Andy Priaulx (Sky)
  • Analyst: Keith Huewen (Sky)

A1’s race day offering consisted of two races: a 30-minute sprint race and a 60-minute feature race. Both had lap counters, although as we discover in Australia, both end up going to time for differing reasons.

Back in the day, most sports that Sky covered live had the luxury of wrap-around studio coverage from their base in Osterley, jumping in and out of the World Feed along the way. For Eastern Creek, the 30-minute build-up to the sprint race consisted of just that.

Sky’s own colour consisted of Georgie Thompson, Andy Priaulx and Keith Huewen. An initial discussion around qualifying, which saw France’s Nicolas Lapierre qualify on pole, at the start of the programme shows how A1 tried to stand out. Qualifying for each event consisted of four segments, with the best two lap times for each country forming the grid.

Thompson reminds viewers that it takes three Boeing 747 jets to get the 50 cars over to Eastern Creek from Europe, a big achievement for a young series.

From that point onwards, we are in and out of the A1 feed, with Lee McKenzie interviewing a young Lapierre, and Ben Edwards giving viewers an excellent virtual guide of the circuit, the graphics looking decent for 2005! The overriding feeling is that Eastern Creek is an old school track and rough round the edges. A1 loved virtual graphics, with the 24-car grid also covered in virtual form later in both build-ups.

Ad-breaks are an unavoidable part of Sky’s pre- and post-race offering, but the races themselves air uninterrupted on the pay TV outlet. Sky miss some World Feed segments as a result, such as pre-race interviews with New Zealand and Australia, however this does not detract from the programme.

2005 Australian A1 GP - on-board Italy.png
On-board with Italy’s Enrico Toccacelo as he tries to get past Canada’s Sean McIntosh during the sprint race.

There is some repetition in the sprint race build-up (not convinced viewers needed to hear from Lapierre, or see the virtual grid graphics, twice), however there were a good sample of grid interviews, with McKenzie chatting to Canadian driver Sean McIntosh as well as Great Britain’s team principal John Surtees.

Both grids were quiet compared to Formula 1 or Formula E, but also the Eastern Creek Raceway had a vast amount of space, so perhaps is not the best comparator. The main thing here is that the attendance looks really healthy for A1’s first appearance down under.

After the national anthems, it is race time!

Sprint race
The A1 Grand Prix liveries look so distinctive and awesome, certainly the chances of wrongly identifying a car is slim.

The opening laps of the sprint race give us a chance to analyse the graphics package on offer, which reminds me of not only F1’s ‘slant’ package from 2010 onwards, but also the classic 1994 to 2003 graphics set due to the black and yellow colour combination for the numbering. The package follows the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ principles, making it straightforward for viewers to follow.

As an example, all A1 cars have a power boost system, which drivers can use four times in the sprint race and eight times in the feature race, giving a tactical element to the racing. No fancy graphics used, just a simple number, which the television feed highlights when a driver activates it.

The timing wall cycles through five cars at once, however there is no sign of Team Radio, a sign of the era more than anything else. From a camera angle perspective, the director opted to use the heli-cam at the rolling sprint race start, with sporadic on-boards used throughout helping to show the ragged nature of the machinery.

As usual, Edwards and Watson are a joy to listen to, the two covering movements further down the field, even when not aired on the World Feed.

Wonderful topography of this Eastern Creek Raceway where they’re up and down, they’ve got off camber corners to deal with. It’s a little bit like Oulton Park in the UK or Mid Ohio in the United States, there’s a lot of thinking to be done, it’s quite technical in places.

Overtaking is obviously not easy, there are a few opportunities that we’ve seen though. – A1 commentator Ben Edwards talking about the circuit

Separate incidents involving Czech Republic’s Tomas Enge and Germany’s Adrian Sutil prompt two Safety Cars during the race, but it is a dull affair outside of that, with France winning the time limited race over Portugal and Brazil, continuing their dominance of the series so far.

Break between Races
Reaction to the sprint race is thin on the ground from Sky, with some brief analysis from Huewen and Priaulx in the studio, followed by the press conference, before moving on to a variety of segments.

Having an hour between the races gave broadcasters enough breathing room in one sense, but not in another. Sky have around 40 minutes to play with (excluding commercials) between the end of the sprint race and the start of the feature race, which is not much. However, for a new series it makes sense, I can see the logic in not wanting to drag proceedings on for too long.

2005 Australian A1 GP - virtual grid graphics width=

Cutting to the studio immediately after the sprint race meant that Sky lost some of the track atmosphere, but avoided them having to brutally crash in and out of the World Feed, reminiscent of ITV’s Formula E studio coverage.

Sky added their own flavour in the form of a segment with Thompson and France’s Alexandre Premat, the two sitting underneath the Eifel Tower to reflect on Premat’s domination in the Portuguese round. The segment was more of a quick-fire Q&A, with no flashy music, doing the job nicely in introducing fans to the characters.

Multiple segments from the World Feed followed, which Sky played out ‘as live.’ The first covered the battle between Australia and New Zealand, with Gareth Jones narrating (a story A1 hyped up throughout the broadcast), and a second looking at what the drivers have been doing in the run up to the weekend.

Next up, McKenzie is in pit lane chatting to Japan’s Hayanari Shimoda after the sprint race, before another A1 piece, this time with the drivers out surfing on Bondi Beach. If anything, this part of the programme is VT heavy, however Sky are reliant on whatever content A1 are sending to them from Australia. Of course, the Sky Pad did not exist back then…

After an ad-break, we head into the feature race build-up, following a similar structure to the sprint race, with McKenzie and Jones chatting to the likes of Ireland’s Michael Devaney and New Zealand’s Jonny Reid on the grid.

The only difference this time round is that it is A1 Grand Prix’s founder Sheikh Maktoum who gives the starting command, which was always a nice touch. “Gentlemen, for the pride of your nations, start your engines!”

Feature race
The TV direction and commentary at the start was subpar, not helped by an unusual choice of camera angle, which failed to spot Portugal’s Alvaro Parente jumping the start. France lost the lead to them as a result, whilst Ireland took a trip through the gravel trap.

The pre-race tactics that the commentary team discussed quickly come to fruition, as Britain’s Robbie Kerr used power boost to get past Brazil on lap two.

2005 Australian A1 GP - feature race leaders.png
The A1 Grand Prix field hurdles towards turn one on lap two, with Portugal leading the way. Behind, Brazil activates power boost as they try to fend off Great Britain.

The feature race features a mandatory pit stop, with A1 opting to display the whole pit lane time on the screen, not just the stationary time.

South Africa was the first country to crash out on lap five. Portugal’s lead was short-lived because of the jump start, although their jump start is not obvious from the replays, so I do have some sympathy with Edwards and Watson here. Like in race one, the Safety Car found itself in the lead most of the time.

The first caution period comes because of a collision at turn two (the main trouble spot) between Mexico and Russia, during which most of the field opt to pit. The exception is 25-year-old Basil Shaaban who now finds himself leading for Lebanon!

Shaaban tumbles down the field once the Safety Car pits, but Watson quite rightly calls his performance “outstanding,” as the Lebanese driver held his own. The on-board angles are again awesome, and a real plus point for the television offering, showing how difficult the cars are to control.

Czech Republic and Austria are the next pair to collide into one another, resulting in the second Safety Car period. France leaves the rest of the field trailing on the restart, as Ireland re-overtakes New Zealand.

Some of the direction and camera work is sub-standard, but in the context of this being A1’s fourth race weekend, it is solid in my view for what is a very hectic race.

A huge accident for Japan’s Shimoda at turn one brings out the final Safety Car of the race. The violent nature of the accident separated the car into two, however Shimoda escaped relatively unscathed. A1 officials pause before showing the replay, but when they do show it, it is clear just how big the accident is, the Lola chassis doing its job.

2005 Australian A1 GP - on-board New Zealand.png
On-board with New Zealand’s Jonny Reid during the feature race.

As in race one, the race switches to time format. Nothing can stop France from continuing their clean sweep of the weekend! Kerr holds on for second place for Great Britain, defending from Switzerland and Netherlands behind.

A little like Formula E has tried to do, A1 Grand Prix helped fill the void doing the traditional motor racing off-season, arguably better than Formula E has ever accomplished in that respect.

Yes, the electric series has outlived A1, but the latter was a genuine winter championship. The first season of the World Cup of Motorsport ran from September to April, with six race weekends between November and February, more than Formula E has ever had in the equivalent period.

The highlight of A1 for me? Seeing Jos Verstappen for Netherlands win the Durban feature race during season one by overtaking Switzerland’s Neel Jani on the very last lap. There is not much better than this moment, with Ben Edwards on commentary declaring “The Netherlands have taken the lead,” is there?

A1 may not have lasted long, but for those that followed it race in and out, it certainly is much missed.


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News round-up: F1 and Tata split; NBC grabs MotoGP rights in US

The motor sport broadcasting news is coming thick and fast as we race into 2020, with news on both two and four wheels.

In this edition, news of a surprising split on the F1 front, whilst news also emerges of changes for MotoGP fans this season.

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

As suggested in the last round-up of 2019, I have created a category for the news round-ups, so all historical round-ups are easily accessible in one place (over here). As always, I appreciate any feedback on both the site and the round-ups as a whole, good, or bad.

Formula 1

  • F1 and Netflix have confirmed that season two of Drive to Survive lands on the platform on Friday 28th February, a week earlier than the equivalent season one release date.
    • As exclusively revealed over the festive period, Mercedes’ German Grand Prix calamity will feature in the series, contrary to earlier speculation.
  • F1 and Tata Communications have split ahead of the 2020 season, ending an eight-year relationship. The Indian-based company were F1’s official Connectivity Partner.
    • In a statement to Reuters, Tata’s Vice President of Marketing Amit Sinha Roy said Tata wanted “to explore other platforms that will allow us to showcase the full power of our digital services to our key customers.”
    • Roy confirmed that Tata will continue their relationships with F1’s other partners, such as Sky Sports and Star Sports.
    • It will be interesting how much the change impacts F1 this season, given that Tata provided F1 with on-site backups (including the World Feed), as well as fibre connectivity to get F1 on-air, amongst other artefacts.
  • F1 has reported on their viewing figures for the 2019 season.
    • A cumulative TV audience of 1.922 billion viewers watched the season, an increase on the 2018 figure of 1.758 billion viewers, which F1 says is the highest cumulative audience since 2012. Therefore, 91.5 million people viewed each race last year, compared with 83.7 million in 2018, an increase of 7.8 million per race.
    • However, the amount on unique viewers dropped year-on-year from 490.2 million in 2018 to 471 million in 2019.
    • F1 touts other increases across the board, with social media continuing to grow strongly.
  • F1’s Director of Media Rights, Ian Holmes, has defended the use of pay television within the sport.
    • “It goes without saying that an FTA broadcaster is going to generate a larger audience than a pay TV channel. That said, it is a bit of an oversimplification. Firstly, there are always commercial elements to be considered but equally as important, is to look at who the viewers are, what the demographics are, and therefore who you’re addressing,” Holmes said.
    • “Furthermore, pay TV often provides far more in depth coverage and I think it would be fair to say that in the likes of Sky and Canal+ they have and continue to strive to improve the overall standard of F1 coverage, bringing to the fan far more than ever existed in the past – and they do a fantastic job. Then there are those people who are consuming F1 content on the different digital and social channels of our broadcast partners and our own F1 owned and operated platforms and channels,” he added.
  • The change to the US Grand Prix start time for 2020 does not impact UK fans, as the race moves a week later this year (I have amended the article which referenced this last week). The British Grand Prix moves an hour later, beginning at 15:10 BST time on Sunday 19th July.
    • The earliest start for UK fans is the Australian Grand Prix, which begins at 05:10 GMT on 15th March, with the latest being the US, Mexican and Canadian rounds, which all begin at 19:10 UK time.
    • The new Vietnam round begins at 08:10 UK time on Sunday 5th April, whilst the Dutch Grand Prix starts at 14:10 UK time.
    • The 2020 season avoids a clash with the Wimbledon finals, although the Canadian round clashes with the opening weekend of Euro 2020 as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
    • In addition, five Formula E races fall on the same weekend as F1, meaning Jack Nicholls may miss the corresponding F1 races over on 5 Live.
    • Half of the MotoGP races clash with F1, with one potential direct clash (between Azerbaijan and Catalunya on June 7th).
  • W Series will make two appearances on the F1 support bill this year, appearing at the US and Mexican rounds. No word on how the scheduling will work during either weekend, or which UK broadcaster will cover W Series.
    • Elsewhere, every W Series race from 2019 is now available to watch via YouTube.
  • A new documentary from the makers of 1: Life on the Limit premieres at the Manchester Film Festival on March 8th.
    • The film, which focuses on ex-FIA president Max Mosley, has been in development since at least 2018, with Alexandra Orton serving as writer.
    • Michael Shevloff, who directed Life on the Limit, is directing the documentary, with Flat Out Films again involved.

Motorsport Network

  • Kelsey Media has acquired the weekly Motorsport News magazine from Motorsport Network.
    • Phil Weeden, who is Kelsey Media’s Chief Operating Officer, said “This is a fabulous product, representing the very heart of grass roots motorsport. With our strong connections to the world of motoring and a passion for all forms of motorsport, we’re looking forward to injecting fresh energy and enthusiasm into Motorsport News.”
    • Motorsport Network’s president James Allen added “Our focus is very clear; digital first with a slimmed down portfolio of print titles, to reflect our customer’s needs.”
  • Contrary to earlier announcements, the network has retained F1 Racing magazine, however from March the magazine will be moving away from the F1 branding. Instead, the magazine will be known as Grand Prix Magazine.
  • James Dickens joins Motorsport Network as their Vice President of Editorial. Dickens joins from football outlet Goal (under the DAZN Group), where he was Global Editor in Chief for nearly two years.
  • The haemorrhaging of staff has continued on the journalism side, with Tom Errington (Autosport’s DTM correspondent) and James Roberts (F1 Racing’s Associate Editor) both departing.
    • The two announcements take the tally to eight for those that have announced their exit since October, leaving the magazine’s output depleted ahead of the new season.

Elsewhere…

  • Formula E have released further details about their new ‘Driver’s Eye’ camera angle, which they say is “a world’s first in any category of FIA-sanctioned single-seater racing.”
    • Weighing in at 2.5 grams and measuring 8.5 millimetres in diameter, Formula E showcased the angle fully for the first time during the Santiago E-Prix.
    • “Driver’s Eye provides a new perspective from inside the helmet in live race conditions, showing the skill it takes to thread the car between the walls while processing data and communicating with the team at speed,” says Sebastian Tiffert, Formula E’s Content, Editorial and Digital Director.
    • “Driver’s Eye adds a unique dimension to the viewing experience and the innovative camera technology immerses fans in wheel-to-wheel racing. We are delighted to bring our fans closer to the drivers’ sensory experience and their engagement with Driver’s Eye content across social media demonstrates the value of innovations core to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship,” Tiffert added.
  • Eurosport have retained the rights to the World Superbikes series, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.
    • Although no announcement has yet been forthcoming from the championship, Eurosport officials have confirmed to this site that they will again be the home of Superbikes in 2020.
  • MotoGP is moving to NBC for US fans, according to respected reporter Adam Stern. Races will air across NBC and NBCSN, with a mixture of live and tape-delay on offer.
  • The bike series is also starting 2020 in style with a new graphics package, commercial rights holder Dorna have confirmed, with further details expected towards the end of February.

If you have spotted anything else making the rounds that is worth a mention, drop a line in the comments section below.


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