Motorsport Broadcasting: Your 2018 Verdict

The 2018 Formula One season has ended, and with it, brings down the curtain on the motor racing year.

On-track, it has been a year of generally good racing wherever you look. Whilst neither the F1 or MotoGP seasons went down the wire, the racing in both has been worth watching on many occasions this year.

Off the track, there have been many developments on the broadcasting front. Traditionally, the end of season verdict has stuck to the UK F1 view point, but we live in a motor sport world far greater than both the UK and F1, and with that in mind it makes sense to expand the scope of the verdict to encompass all elements of broadcasting.

Whether it has been the launch of F1 TV, or World Rally Championship’s All Live service, there has been plenty of movement in the online arena. Liberty Media have made their mark on Formula 1’s graphics set, whilst closer to home, 2018 was the last year of Channel 4’s current F1 contract, the broadcaster remaining in a reduced capacity, for 2019 at least.

Now, we want your opinion. Has something irritated you with this year’s motor sport coverage? Have I missed a revolution that this site should be covering? And what would you like to be different about the motor sport broadcasting scene in 2019? Are you planning to watch a new series next season?

As always, the best thoughts and views will form a new article closer to the festive period.

The paddock reacts to the demise of’s television network

Last Friday, Motorsport Network announced that is moving to an online only platform, effectively closing its television channel from the end of September. The news brings down the curtain on 18 years of television broadcasting, covering and its former guise Motors TV.

Personalities that worked on the channel expressed their sadness at the announcement via social media, including Ben Constanduros and Channel 4’s Formula 1 commentator Ben Edwards, both of whom worked with Motors TV during its early years.

As widely expected, technical expert Craig Scarborough confirmed over the weekend on Twitter that Motorsport Network have axed his Rapid Tech programme. The network has also cut Peter Windsor’s weekly Motorsport Show, which featured a plethora of original content.

David Addison, who was a regular commentator on Motors TV’s ‘Race Day’ events for the Hayfisher production company, said that some championships could struggle because of Motorsport Network’s decision.

“What Motors TV and more recently did was bring lots of different championships to the enthusiast. It was a platform for different championships to be able to get exposure,” explained Addison, who spoke to this site during last weekend’s BTCC event at Silverstone.

“It was also an opportunity for different championships to use that as a sales tool to try to attract more people in. You might argue that it was a bit niche, because if you’re watching a motor sport channel, you’re already a motor sport fan.”

“But, it does take away a platform for championships in the UK and around the world. There are so many championships that need, and have benefited from,’s television coverage, that are now going to struggle.”

Frank Johns, whose company Frank Johns Associates provided national-level content to’s various guises, wrote a comment on this very site stating “As a regular programme provider to Motors TV from its earliest days and more latterly to its successor the sudden closure of this channel is sad news indeed.”

Johns noted in his comment that their programming would continue to air on’s on-demand service, but suspects that the audience figures “will be a shadow of its former self.”

For many national and international championships which aired exclusively on and want to retain a television presence, they will now need to look elsewhere for that exposure.

This site has reached out to both the World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship for comment, as well as Supercars in Australia, all three impacted by last week’s development.

A spokesperson for the Supercars series has since told this site “ will continue to show all highlights and selected events. Freesports will be showing highlights.”

“We also have a subscription called SuperView for our viewers outside Australia and New Zealand to live stream every Virgin Australia Supercars Championship qualifying and race session in 2018 (excluding the sessions at the 2018 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix), live and uninterrupted on your mobile, tablet or desktop.”

To cut a long story short, Supercars do not plan to change their existing UK rights (which presumably applies across Europe), meaning that events such as the Bathurst 1000 will not air live in the UK on television. could be ahead of the curve
Addison was keen to emphasise that, whilst some championships could struggle, could end up being a trend setter in the on-demand space, and that Motorsport Network’s decision might not be doom and gloom.

“My age group used to sit in front of the television once upon a time, on a Sunday afternoon watching motor sport. But now, we consume motor sport on so many different platforms, on the phone, on the train, you name it.”

“If is a subscription pay-TV platform only on the internet, actually it’s probably not that far removed from where we are now anyway,” Addison told me.

“It takes away that free service, yes, and it takes away that ‘channel punching’ ability to happen across motor racing. But for the real die-hards that want to watch it, they’ll probably still watch it, even if they have to pay, and have to watch it via the internet.”

“Who is to say that in five or ten years’ time, people are standing in a paddock reminiscing about when motor racing was actually on the TV! It might be that they [] are ahead of their time.”

“We’re not saying that they are dead, not showing motor racing, they’ve just changed the way it is going to be presented and how one accesses it.”

Addison, who currently commentates on ITV’s British Touring Car Championship coverage, argues that some championships, such as the club events that featured prominently during Motors TV’s heyday, might be better suited to coverage on the internet.

“To some degree, and this is where one sounds in danger of sounding rather snobbish, there is an argument to say that your big, high profile glamour, well-attended categories, such as F1, touring cars, Blancpain, World Endurance continue to air on television, as they make for good television.”

“However, three and a half people at Anglesey watching half a dozen BMW’s is not great television. And that, with all due respect to the people in it, the people involved in the television production, does not look brilliant on TV.”

“Those races are of specific appeal to the participants and their families. National racing, club racing, cars, bikes or rally cross, oval racing, put it on the internet, it is of a specific appeal and it can exist quite happily there.”

TV channel to close

Motorsport Network are to close their television channel at the end of September, this site can exclusively confirm.

Launched internationally under previous ownership as Motors TV in 2000, the UK version of the channel launched in March 2001. As the UK channel grew, Motors TV played host to major events on the international circuit, such as live coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the British Touring Car Championship.

In more recent years, the broadcaster aired coverage of the World Endurance and World Rally Championships, whilst also airing live coverage of domestic track days featuring racing at club level, an important asset with no other specialised motor sport channels at that level in existence in the UK.

Motors TV, however were not without financial difficulties, with the channel disappearing and re-appearing from the Sky platform during the end of their lifespan. Nevertheless, the channel continued to survive and move forward.

Following the acquisition of Haymarket’s motor sport portfolio, Motors TV was next on Motorsport Network’s radar. The network duly purchased Motors TV in November 2016, re-branding the channel to three months later, and in high-definition.

The television channel has remained on-air since then, however some championships, such as NASCAR, Virgin Australia Supercars and the Motocross World Championship have disappeared from schedules in recent weeks without any warning.

I understand that the decision to axe’s television channels applies worldwide, and not just for the UK outlet. Existing championships will continue to air on’s digital platforms. A second source has indicated that discussion-based programming will be discontinued as part of this move.

There is the human aspect to this, with those who were working on the channel worldwide now looking for alternative forms of work, either within Motorsport Network, or elsewhere in the motor racing world. Allegedly, there are currently outstanding debts related to the channel to be resolved.

For UK fans, the Blancpain GT Series and Virgin Australia Supercar are, as of October 1st, in limbo without a television home. In addition, has the lion’s share of live coverage of the World Endurance Championship with BT Sport and Eurosport; whilst they also air highlights of the World Rally Championship with BT. All could transfer to BT Sport, but this is unconfirmed as of writing.

Elsewhere in the Motorsport Network spectrum, this site has learnt that Chief Executive Officer Colin Smith is stepping down from his post. Smith, who previously worked in NASCAR’s digital media team as Vice President, steps aside with F1 journalist and former commentator James Allen taking over as President of Motorsport Network with immediate effect.

When Motorsport Network acquired Motors TV, there was always a distinct possibility that Motorsport Network were going to discontinue their television channel. The network referenced the transition “from traditional linear broadcasting to a Video on Demand (VOD) service” in their initial press release in November 2016.

The shock here is the abrupt timing, with no immediate warning that this was going to happen at the end of September, prior to the end of the motor racing season. The demise of the television network both in the UK and abroad brings down the curtain on 18 years of broadcasting.

Motors TV might not have had the best picture quality, or audio for that matter, but it brought to viewers championships from around the world week in, week out. The UK motor sport television landscape will be a worse place without it.

Update on September 14th at 18:45 – Following the publication of this article, Motorsport Network staff were informed of the news late on Friday afternoon in an internal news briefing. The briefing outlined’s on-demand future beyond September, and that its television network would be no more.

In addition, at 17:37 this afternoon, the UK Twitter feed tweeted “ is moving to online and on demand exclusively. We’ve got all your favourite shows & races you enjoyed on TV, now on demand, any time. Visit or go to our Apple TV, iOS & Android Apps today to take advantage of our free 30 day trial.”

I have requested comment from various rights holders on the current situation, and will update the site as and when I have more information. Blancpain is unaffected for 2018 as their season concludes at the end of the month.

Scheduling: The 2018 Singapore Grand Prix

The 2018 Formula One season heads out of Europe and into Asia for the Singapore Grand Prix! Now in its eleventh year, action from the Marina Bay circuit airs live across Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1 over the weekend.

As we head into the fly-away period, the session times remain broadly identical between 2017 and 2018, the only change is that the races will start ten minutes later than in previous years.

Eddie Jordan returns to Channel 4’s coverage for Singapore, Jordan will be analysing the action alongside David Coulthard and Mark Webber. On the scheduling front, the only unusual note is that Channel 4 has a 20-minute build-up for the second practice session.

Singapore marks the last weekend in a little while for Martin Brundle, as Brundle will not be part of Sky’s coverage in either Russia or Japan.

Elsewhere, a variety of championships are heading towards their conclusion both domestically and overseas. In the UK, the British Superbikes series begins its ‘Showdown’ phase at Oulton Park, whilst the penultimate round of the British Touring Car Championship takes place at Silverstone.

Further afield, Sonoma plays host the final round of the 2018 IndyCar Series. The race airs live on BT Sport, with an extended build-up, which could be BT’s last covering the series, as IndyCar’s rights agreement with ESPN’s international arm is up for grabs.

Channel 4 F1
14/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1
14/09 – 13:10 to 15:05 – Practice 2
15/09 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
15/09 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
16/09 – 12:00 to 16:15 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build-Up
=> 12:40 – Race
=> 15:30 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
14/09 – 09:15 to 11:20 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
14/09 – 13:15 to 15:20 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
15/09 – 10:45 to 12:15 – Practice 3
15/09 – 13:00 to 15:45 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
16/09 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race
=> 11:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – On the Grid
=> 13:05 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
13/09 – 11:00 to 11:30 – Driver Press Conference
13/09 – 13:00 to 13:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
15/09 – 15:45 to 16:20 – The F1 Show

BBC Radio F1
14/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/09 – 13:25 to 15:05 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain GT Sprint Series – Nurburgring (BT Sport/ESPN)
15/09 – 12:45 to 14:30 – Race 1
16/09 – 15:00 to 16:30 – Race 2

British Superbikes – Oulton Park
15/09 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
16/09 – 12:30 to 15:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
16/09 – 16:15 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
19/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone (ITV4)
16/09 – 11:15 to 18:30 – Races

Formula Renault Eurocup – Nurburgring (BT Sport/ESPN)
15/09 – 11:30 to 12:45 – Race 1
16/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Sonoma (BT Sport 1)
16/09 – 23:00 to 02:30 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Sandown 500 (
16/09 – 03:55 to 08:00 – Race

World Rally Championship – Turkey
Every stage live via
14/09 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (BT Sport 1)
15/09 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Live: Stage 12 (BT Sport 1)
15/09 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (
=> 00:00 to 00:30 (BT Sport 3)
16/09 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Live: Stage 14 (BT Sport 1)
16/09 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Live: Stage 17 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 1)
16/09 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (BT Sport 3)
18/09 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Superbikes – Portugal
14/09 – 09:30 to 10:30 – Practice 1 (Eurosport)
14/09 – 15:30 to 16:55 – Practice 2 and 3 (Eurosport 2)
15/09 – 10:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
16/09 – 11:30 to 12:30 – Support Races (Eurosport 2)
16/09 – 15:15 to 16:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
18/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Scheduling: The 2018 Belgian Grand Prix / British MotoGP

12 down, 9 to go. Formula 1 returns from its Summer break, with the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit playing host to round 13 of the season, as the championship speeds towards the finish line.

Given what has been a frantic month so far for the sport, one would expect a packed weekend for all the UK’s F1 broadcasters, with no room for filler.

Sky have a new kid on the block, with a new programme on Thursday afternoons. Welcome to the Weekend is a live 30-minute show wrapping up the Thursday interviews with Natalie Pinkham presenting. The show replaces Paddock Uncut, which used to fulfil the same purpose and aired for 15 minutes on Thursdays prior to each weekend.

Elsewhere, a special 90-minute edition of Speed with Guy Martin airs on Bank Holiday Monday on Channel 4. As noted last month, the show sees Williams Heritage rebuild their FW08C car for Martin to race at Silverstone in a challenge that occurred prior to the British Grand Prix weekend.

Martin challenges Jenson Button, who will be in the banned six-wheel Williams FW08B car, which the team were going to race in the 1983 Formula One season. As with his two previous Formula 1 orientated programming in March 2016 (bike versus racing car) and September 2017 (pit stop challenge), the turnaround time from filming the challenge to airing has been short, with a six-week gap in total.

On two wheels, MotoGP are the ones heading to Silverstone this weekend, with live coverage as always on BT Sport 2. In addition to their usual coverage, BT are also covering both British Talent Cup races live, whilst a one-hour live magazine show will air live from Woodlands campsite on Thursday evening, with Suzi Perry presenting.

Because the F1 races this year are starting 70 minutes later, it means that the British MotoGP round starts at 13:00 UK time instead of 15:30 as it has done for the past few years, avoiding a clash with the F1.

Channel 4 F1
24/08 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1
24/08 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2
25/08 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
25/08 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
26/08 – 13:00 to 17:35 – Race
=> 13:00 – Build-Up
=> 13:40 – Race
=> 16:30 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
27/08 – 21:00 to 22:30 – Speed with Guy Martin: Classic F1 Special

Sky Sports F1
24/08 – 09:45 to 11:50 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event from 10:00)
24/08 – 13:45 to 15:50 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/08 – 10:45 to 12:15 – Practice 3
25/08 – 13:00 to 15:40 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
26/08 – 12:30 to 17:10 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky1 from 14:00)
=> 16:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky1)

Supplementary Programming
23/08 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
23/08 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
25/08 – 16:55 to 17:30 – The F1 Show

BBC Radio F1
23/08 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
24/08 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
24/08 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/08 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/08 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Britain
24/08 – 08:45 to 16:15 – Practice 1 and 2 (BT Sport 2)
24/08 – 19:00 to 20:00 – ICYMI Live (BT Sport 1)
25/08 – 09:00 to 16:15 (BT Sport 2)
=> 09:00 – Practice 3
=> 12:00 – Qualifying
26/08 – 08:45 to 16:00 (BT Sport 2)
=> 08:45 – Warm Ups
=> 10:30 – Moto3 MotoGP
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 12:45 – Moto3
=> 14:15 – Moto2
=> 15:30 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Britain (Channel 5)
28/08 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

British Talent Cup – Silverstone (BT Sport 2)
25/08 – 16:15 to 17:15 – Race 1
26/08 – 16:00 to 16:45 – Race 2

British Touring Car Championship – Knockhill (ITV4)
26/08 – 11:00 to 18:15 – Races

Formula Three European Championship – Misano
25/08 – 16:45 to 17:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
26/08 – 07:00 to 08:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)
26/08 – 16:30 to 17:30 – Race 3 (BT Sport X2)

Formula Two – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
24/08 – 11:50 to 12:45 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
24/08 – 15:50 to 16:30 – Qualifying
25/08 – 15:40 to 16:55 – Race 1
26/08 – 09:45 to 10:50 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
24/08 – 16:45 to 17:25 – Qualifying
25/08 – 08:30 to 09:25 – Race 1
26/08 – 08:30 to 09:15 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Gateway 500 (BT Sport/ESPN)
25/08 (Sunday morning) – 01:00 to 04:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Belgium
26/08 – Race
=> 10:45 to 11:45 (Eurosport 2)
=> 11:15 to 12:00 (Sky Sports F1)

Virgin Australia Supercars – The Bend (
25/08 – 07:30 to 09:00 – Race 1
26/08 – 04:45 to 07:00 – Race 2

The above schedules will be amended if anything changes.

Update on August 21st – It appears Sky have also dropped the F1 Report from their weekly schedule. I am chasing up an official line on this, and will post further in the forthcoming days with an update.

Update on August 25th at 20:30 – If you are recording MotoGP tomorrow, I strongly advise scheduling a massive amount of overrun. Inclement weather has prompted organisers to move the MotoGP race to 11:30 UK time. I suspect that on its own is not going to be enough, but we shall see. I’ve updated what the BT schedule is at the moment above.

Update on August 26th at 12:00 – Sky snuck in a Sky1 simulcast in their final exchanges last week, which I have added above.