Scheduling: The 2020 Russian Grand Prix

The Sochi Autodrom in Russia plays host to round ten of the 2020 Formula One season.

As the paddock heads to Russia, Sky’s presentation team will look a little different for the race, with neither Simon Lazenby or Ted Kravitz with the team.

For Lazenby, it is his second absence of the season following Spain in August; expect Natalie Pinkham to step into the presenting shoes again.

After having to depart Mugello early due to family issues, Steve Jones returns to his role as Channel 4’s F1 presenter for Russia, alongside the likes of David Coulthard and Mark Webber.

The time difference means that the F1 race starts at 12:10 UK time. As thus, MotoGP from Catalunya moves an hour later to 14:00 UK time, avoiding a clash with the F1.

Elsewhere, the British Touring Car Championship season continues from Silverstone, and remains on ITV2, but this time due to the French Open.

The French Open also causes problems for Eurosport’s coverage of the World Touring Car Cup. Owing to the tennis, the touring car series airs exclusively live for UK fans via Eurosport’s online Player, with late night highlights airing on their linear TV channels.

Channel 4 F1
26/09 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
27/09 – 17:30 to 20:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
25/09 – 08:30 to 10:45 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 08:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 09:00 – Practice 1
25/09 – 12:45 to 14:45 – Practice 2
26/09 – 09:45 to 11:10 – Practice 3
26/09 – 12:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying
27/09 – 10:30 to 15:00 – Race
=> 10:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

Supplementary Programming
25/09 – 15:30 to 16:00 – The Story so Far
26/09 – 14:30 to 15:45 – Race to Perfection
30/09 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
25/09 – 08:55 to 10:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/09 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/09 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/09 – 12:00 to 14:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Catalunya (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
25/09 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
25/09 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
26/09 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
27/09 – 08:30 to 15:30
=> 08:30 – Warm Ups
=> 10:15 – Moto3
=> 12:00 – Moto2
=> 13:30 – MotoGP
=> 15:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Catalunya (Quest)
28/09 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone (ITV2)
27/09 – 11:00 to 18:25 – Races

GT World Challenge – Zandvoort (Sky Sports F1)
27/09 – 15:00 to 17:00 – Race (tape-delay)

Ferrari Challenge – Misano (Sky Sports F1)
26/09 – 16:10 to 17:10 – Race 1
27/09 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (tape-delay)

Formula Two – Russia (Sky Sports F1)
25/09 – 07:30 to 08:20 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/09 – 11:55 to 12:35 – Qualifying
26/09 – 08:05 to 09:20 – Race 1
27/09 – 08:45 to 09:50 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Virgin Australia Supercars – The Bend (BT Sport 3) TBC
Also airs live on SuperView (£)

World Touring Car Cup – Germany
Only available live via Eurosport Player

As always, this post will be updated if plans change.


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F1’s Tuscan Grand Prix coverage prompts 133 complaints to Ofcom

Coverage of the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix across Channel 4 and Sky Sports has generated 133 complaints, statistics released by the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom reveal.

Although their weekly bulletin does not outline what the complaints relate to, it is likely a result of Lewis Hamilton’s decision to wear a t-shirt related to the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Hamilton’s t-shirt contained the words “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front, with the words “Say her name” on the back.

Viewers logged 75 of the complaints against Channel 4’s highlights programme, with 55 complaints for Sky Sports’ live offering. For the week, F1 attracted the second highest number of complaints.

Britain’s Got Talent led the chart, due to a Black Lives Matters routine from Diversity on September 5th, which has attracted over 20,000 complaints.

Ofcom have yet to confirm if they plan to investigate the F1 matter further.

How often do people complain about F1 races?
Whilst the number of complaints recorded here is far higher than usual for Formula 1, it still only comprises of around 0.004 percent of the three million viewers that watch each Grand Prix.

Two other races in the past 15 years have recorded over 10 complaints.

126 people complained to Ofcom about ITV’s coverage of the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, where the broadcaster took a commercial break in the closing stages of the Grand Prix, in the middle of a close contest between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.

Three years later, Ofcom received 14 complaints about the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, as Martin Brundle used the word ‘pikey’ to describe those relaying the tarmac prior to the start of the race.

Ofcom considered the grid walk matter resolved, whilst they deemed ITV to be in breach regarding the ad-break situation.

Other complaints in recent year have primarily surrounding swearing over the team radio, as well as before and after the race. The most recent complaint however came because of a superimposed Rolex clock during coverage of the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying session.

Although Imola 2005 and Mugello 2020 currently have a similar level of complaints, it is likely that will change over the coming days.

Outside of the Ofcom spectrum, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) slapped Sky with a warning for misleading advertising following their 2019 pre-season promotional campaign.


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Scheduling: The 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

Delayed by three months due to COVID-19, the spectacular 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place this weekend!

As usual, live coverage of the race for UK fans airs on Eurosport, with the official World Feed commentary available via the World Endurance Championship app.

A congested weekend of action, also involving the Tour de France, British Superbikes and World Superbikes, means that their free-to-air station Quest acts as Eurosport’s overflow channel for the Superbikes.

The consequence of that means that Le Mans is not available to UK fans via any free-to-air outlet this year.

Martin Haven, Graham Goodwin and Allan McNish lead the World Feed offering, with Ben Constanduros, Peter Dumbreck, Jamie Campbell-Walter rotating in and out of commentary for the 24 hours.

Down in pit lane, Hayley Duncan and Alexandra Legouix will be grabbing all the interview snippets throughout.

We choose the best action and the best angle, thanks to some 40 cameras along the track and in the pits. It is also possible to put on-air one of the 14 cars equipped with 3 or 4 on-board cameras.

Two ‘cinéflex’, one onboard a helicopter and the other below an airship, a travelling on a 400-meter cable along the pits as well as a mobile ‘hyper-slowmo’, allows us to include exceptional footage.

Brand new motion graphics (already used during the World Endurance Championships) add a significant number of important information to ensure a better understanding of the race.

A selection of radio communication from the teams and the race director will be on-air, to explain and humanize the race.

Day and night over 300 people, who work in shifts during the 30 hours we produce, run this technical set-up to ensure that each broadcaster may offer their viewers all over the world a full coverage of the race.

Producing at the 24H Le Mans means bearing in mind that anything can happen, at any moment. This is why we continuously record from over 75 different image sources to be able to use this on air slightly offline. – 24 Hours of Le Mans

Over on Eurosport, Tom Gaymor leads the commentary line-up from off-site in the UK, joined by Mark Cole, Louise Beckett, Damien Faulkner, Sam Hancock and Chris Parsons.

Supplementing Eurosport’s coverage from on-site are Jennie Gow, Guenaelle Longy and Toby Moody who will be reporting from pit lane.

As always, Radio Le Mans will be doing their thing throughout the Le Mans festival, with John Hindhaugh leading the crew.

In a change to tradition, the race itself starts at 14:30 local time instead of the usual 15:00 local time. In addition, WEC’s cameras are not covering practice one, with coverage kicking in from practice two onwards.

Below are all the details you need, including MotoGP’s second Misano race, and World Rally Championship’s visit to Turkey…

World Endurance Championship – 24 Hours of Le Mans
Also airs live on WEC’s App (£)
17/09 – 13:00 to 17:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 13:00 – Practice 2
=> 16:00 – Qualifying
17/09 – 19:00 to 23:15 – Practice 3 (Eurosport 2)
18/09 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Practice 4 (Eurosport 2)
18/09 – 10:30 to 11:00 – Hyperpole (Eurosport 2)
19/09 – 09:30 to 11:00 (Eurosport)
=> 09:30 – Warm-Up
=> 10:00 – Road to Le Mans
19/09 – 12:30 to 13:15 – Preview (Eurosport)
19/09 – 13:15 – Race (Eurosport)
=> live coverage continues until 14:00 on 20/09

MotoGP – Emilia Romagna (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pas (£)
18/09 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
18/09 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
19/09 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
20/09 – 07:15 to 14:30
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Emilia Romagna (Quest)
21/09 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

British Superbikes – Oulton Park / World Superbikes – Catalunya
World Superbikes airs live on WSB’s Video Pass (£)
18/09 – 13:25 to 14:55 – WSB: Practice (Eurosport 2)
19/09 – 09:45 to 18:00
=> 09:45 (Eurosport 2)
=> 11:45 (Quest)
20/09 – 12:15 to 18:00 (Quest)
22/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – WSB: Highlights (ITV4)
23/09 – 19:30 to 21:00 – BSB: Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Thruxton (ITV2)
20/09 – 11:00 to 18:45 – Races

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland
18/09 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races (BT Sport 3)
19/09 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races (BT Sport 2)

Virgin Australia Supercars – The Bend (BT Sport 3)
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
19/09 – 06:30 to 08:00 – Race 1
20/09 – 03:15 to 04:45 – Race 2
20/09 – 05:45 to 07:15 – Race 2

World Rally Championship – Turkey (All Live)
Also airs live on WRC+ (£)
18/09 – 14:15 to 18:15 – Stages 1 and 2 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 15:00 – Stage 1
=> 16:18 – Stage 2
19/09 – 06:00 to 16:45 – Stages 3 to 8 (BT Sport Extra 2)
=> 06:47 – Stage 3
=> 08:00 – Stage 4
=> 09:03 – Stage 5
=> 12:47 – Stage 6
=> 14:00 – Stage 7
=> 15:03 – Stage 8
20/09 – 04:15 to 12:45 – Stages 9 to 12 (BT Sport Extra 2)
=> 05:27 – Stage 9
=> 07:00 – Stage 10
=> 09:07 – Stage 11
=> 11:15 – Stage 12 [Power Stage]

World Rally Championship – Turkey
18/09 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport 1)
19/09 – 00:00 to 00:30 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
19/09 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Stage 4 (BT Sport 3)
19/09 – 22:45 to 23:15 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
20/09 – 07:00 to 08:00 – Stage 10 (BT Sport 3)
20/09 – 22:15 to 22:45 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
22/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always if details change, this article will be updated.


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Analysis: How F1 and MotoGP have interpreted Mugello differently from a broadcasting perspective

The Mugello circuit in Italy is renowned for two wheeled action, with MotoGP fans flocking to the race track each June to cheer on their favourite stars, including Valentino Rossi and the Ducati team.

This year, COVID-19 has meant that MotoGP has had to postpone its visit to the legendary circuit, the first time Mugello has not been on the MotoGP calendar since 1993.

The unusual circumstances have resulted in Formula 1 making its inaugural trip to Tuscany, with the circuit set to be one of the most physically demanding on the calendar for its 20 drivers.

As readers of this site will be all too aware, any new circuit represents a new challenge for those working on the broadcasting front, and Mugello is no different.

Formula 1’s production team comes to Tuscany from Monza with their own intentions and goals, meaning that the result from a television perspective will be significantly different to MotoGP’s own output from their yearly Mugello visit.

But just how different were Formula 1’s camera angles compared to MotoGP’s usual positions for two-wheeled action? Motorsport Broadcasting analyses the running themes from today’s F1 practice sessions…

Higher or lower?
Both championships’ take a significantly different approach in terms of camera height. When analysing last year’s MotoGP race with today’s practice action, it is clear that throughout the 5.2km circuit, F1 have opted to position their cameras lower than MotoGP’s historical positioning.

 

The lower angles help show the direction change of the single-seaters much better than a higher angle – a strategic direction F1, under Liberty Media’s watch, started to take back in 2017. Critically, the lower angles give viewers a better side-on view of the car, which is important for sponsors whose brands are located there.

In contrast, MotoGP’s angles give fans a better idea of the elevation on offer around the Mugello circuit which, in my opinion, F1 does not convey as well as their bike rival.

This is obvious in two main places. MotoGP’s camera angles at the start of the start-finish straight and turn six are higher than F1’s, the bike series making Mugello look like a rollercoaster ride compared to F1. However, F1’s angles show off Mugello’s picturesque backdrop.

The angle at turn six though is deliberate from F1’s perspective. All of the cars will be going flat out heading into here during qualifying, and F1 wants to show the change of direction on offer at high speeds.

Further round the lap, both display the same traits at turns eight and ten: F1 going for the low angle, with MotoGP venturing higher up.

Slip-streaming is a common feature of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, and the higher angles will make it easier to identify when slip-streaming is occurring as the race progresses.

One straight, many cameras
Motor sport is renowned for long straights that head into sharp corners, and Mugello is no different in this regard.

Combined with the elevation change, one camera angle is insufficient to track the machinery from the exit of the final corner to the start of turn one.

At some circuits, such as Shanghai, one camera angle would be enough if you were short on resources, but such an approach would also make for boring viewing.

As Sergi Sendra, Dorna’s Senior Director for Media Content, Television and Production explained to me last year, the TV team typically splits long straights into three: one for the exit from the previous bend, the second for the mid-section as the bikes head to top speed, and finally for the braking zone.

Both MotoGP’s and F1’s positioning in Mugello follows this rule to the letter, with the second angle close to pit lane exit after the starting grid.

Positioning of angles
A common trait from MotoGP is to position additional angles on the inside of corners, and use that as their main angle. During last year’s MotoGP race, the production team utilised an angle on the inside of turn one, using this to show the bike’s lean angle throughout the constant radius hairpin.

For turn four, MotoGP positions their camera on the entry to the corner showing the riders turn into the bend, whereas F1 opted to go for a more direct angle with their positioning.

In my view, MotoGP does a better job in making Arrabbiata one continuous corner, whereas it is not immediately obvious with F1’s angles that the two corners seamlessly link with one another.

The key to all this though is that there is no right or wrong answer to positioning cameras around a race track.

F1 switching its angles to the same position to MotoGP’s angles would not make F1’s product infinitely better, or vice versa.

The answer is much more nuanced than that depending on the constraints that both championships, commercial, budgetary, or otherwise, are working within.

In addition, the action points for bike racing and single-seater racing are inherently different on a circuit-by-circuit basis, meaning you cannot apply a one size fits all model from a production perspective.

For now, F1 will have learnt a massive amount from today, and will no doubt be making tweaks to their camera angles as the weekend progresses in Mugello as race day approaches.


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Sainz’s pursuit of victory sees F1’s viewing figures double in Spain

Carlos Sainz’s pursuit of victory in last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix saw viewing figures double in Spain, audience data from overseas shows.

The race was red flagged after a major accident for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Following the restart, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly battled McLaren’s Sainz for victory, Sainz a couple of laps too short from potential victory.

Sainz’s pursuit of victory resulted in audience figures surging in his home land.

An audience of 244,000 viewers (2.1% audience share) watched the Grand Prix on pay TV station Movistar+ according to Formula TV, double the 121,000 viewers (1.2% audience share) that watched last month’s Spanish Grand Prix on the same channel.

Last weekend’s race was up by around a third on last year’s Monza figure, which averaged 173,000 viewers (1.4% audience share) in Spain.

Over in France, a peak audience of 1.24 million viewers watched Gasly’s victory on Canal+, a slight increase on last weekend’s peak audience of 1.16 million viewers.

The average audience declined from 932,000 viewers for the Belgian Grand Prix, to 841,000 viewers last weekend, a reflection of the red flag period which may have depleted the Canal+ average slightly.

The conclusion here is obvious, but worth stating: France’s viewing figures are higher than Spain, meaning that there is less room for growth, whereas F1 in Spain is underperforming massively now.

The presence of Sainz fighting it out up front – and the returning Fernando Alonso – is critical to move the needle in Spain.

Unfortunately, one of F1’s biggest territories in Europe shed over one million viewers, thanks to Ferrari’s continued woes. According to Motorsport.com, coverage of the race in Germany averaged 4.54 million viewers, a decrease on last year’s figure of 5.71 million viewers.

The 2020 figure is in-line on F1’s audiences for the year to date in Germany, whereas last year’s race over-indexed considerably.

Viewing figures for the race also dipped year-on-year in America on Labor Day weekend. 602,000 viewers watched the race on ESPN2, compared with 635,000 viewers last year.

Impressively, live coverage of the third practice session averaged 244,000 viewers at 06:00 on Saturday morning on ESPN, with 518,000 viewers tuning into qualifying, showing that increased interest in F1 in the US is filtering through to the other weekend sessions.

Formula Two viewing figures surge in UK
In the UK, viewing figures for the Formula Two championship continue to impress according to consolidated data from BARB and ThinkBox.

Whilst data for the Italian Grand Prix is unavailable, data from the Belgian Grand Prix weekend shows that 222,000 viewers watched the Formula Two feature race on Saturday 29th August, believed to be Formula Two’s highest ever figure in the UK.

185,000 viewers watched the race via Sky Sports F1, with an additional 37,000 viewers watching on Sky Sports Main Event.

To put that into historical comparison, back in 2012 during Sky’s first season covering F1, only 29,000 viewers watched the GP2 feature race during the Belgium weekend.

Viewing figures have increased rapidly in the past year and a half, Sky’s F1 exclusivity helping the cause.

Elsewhere, the Indy 500, which took place the week before, averaged 130,000 viewers, although the two figures are not directly comparable given that the IndyCar figure includes a 90-minute build-up which would have depleted the average.


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