How to follow Formula 1 in 2023

After an extended winter break thanks to the men’s football FIFA World Cup, Formula 1 roars back into action this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, and fans have a plethora of ways to enjoy the action.

23 races take Formula 1 from Bahrain on March 5th through to Abu Dhabi on November 26th, with twists and turns guaranteed. Familiar venues such as Suzuka, Silverstone and Spa combine with newer venues such as Las Vegas, Miami and Zandvoort, giving fans a mixture of the new world and old throughout 2023.

From a broadcasting perspective, the landscape is increasingly fierce for content creators who want to stand out from the chasing pack. There are multiple options for fans consuming the content to choose from across live and highlights, video, and audio, and online or in the traditional newspaper format.

So, what is returning, what has changed over the hibernation period, and who are new kids on the block? Motorsport Broadcasting takes an in-depth look…

Channel 4 to take F1’s in-house commentary

A new year means new graphics on the television front, with F1 promising some incremental changes for 2023.

Speaking recently to SVG Europe, F1’s director of broadcast and media Dean Locke highlighted that fans will see six to eight live helmet cameras during a race weekend, audio upgrades, “new opening titles”, as well as the potential for biometric graphics later in the season, subject to FIA approval.

The sport has revamped their UK TV base, giving broadcasters the choice of hosting their offerings from an augmented reality (AR) studio at Biggin Hill. Locke says that F1 “will host various broadcasters’ commentary here as well, potentially.”

Fans in the UK can watch every session live on Sky Sports. Sky returns as the UK’s main F1 broadcaster, the pay television outlet entering their 12th season covering the series.

Sky will remain involved for the foreseeable future after agreeing a new rights deal late last year, taking them to the end of 2029 in the UK, and to the end of 2027 in multiple other European territories.

Their roster of motor sport programming expands beyond F1, and this year the broadcaster will air Formula Two, Formula Three, IndyCar, as well as the Indy NXT series for the first time.

The latter, previously branded Indy Lights, features current W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, Chadwick making the jump stateside. However, it is unclear whether W Series, minus Chadwick, will happen in 2023 owing to financial issues.

In the off-season, Sky have tweaked their on-air roster, with both Johnny Herbert and Paul di Resta departing. The rest of the team, including the commentary pairing of David Croft and Martin Brundle, remains the same.

Expect Nico Rosberg’s presence on Sky’s coverage to increase this year, as the FIA have relaxed its COVID-19 paddock protocols for 2023. F1 banned Rosberg from the paddock last season due to his COVID vaccination status.

As announced late last year when they renewed their deal with F1, Sky viewers can access all 20 on-board cameras this season in addition to a new ‘Battle Channel‘, giving Sky Q and Sky Glass subscribers a similar level of service to that overseas fans can receive via F1 TV Pro.

All details for Sky Sports F1 unless stated.

Friday 3rd March
11:00 to 13:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
14:45 to 16:20 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Saturday 4th March
11:15 to 12:40 – Practice 3
14:10 to 16:30 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event from 15:00)
16:30 to 17:00 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
19:30 to 21:00 – Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)

Sunday 5th March
13:30 to 18:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event from 14:00 to 16:00)
=> 13:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:30 – Race
=> 17:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 18:00 – Ted’s Notebook
21:00 to 23:30 – Race Highlights (Channel 4)

The full UK TV schedule for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. Updated on 3rd March to reflect the shorter ‘Grand Prix Sunday’ length and longer ‘Race’ length for Sky F1.

Channel 4’s free-to-air highlights package continues this season, with highlights of every race, as well as live coverage of the Silverstone weekend, airing on their main linear outlet.

Their coverage features a change which appears minor to begin with, but is significant underneath the surface. Alex Jacques remains Channel 4’s F1 lead commentator, however Jacques is no longer part of the core Channel 4 team. Confused?

Jacques has moved back to F1’s in-house team in the off-season, and will commentate on every race for F1’s streaming service, F1 TV Pro.

Instead of producing their own bespoke commentary, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm that Channel 4 will take F1’s in-house commentary this year, Jacques alongside a team that includes ex-IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe, Jolyon Palmer, and Channel 4 analyst David Coulthard.

The look and feel of Channel 4’s pre- and post-race programming stays the same. For Bahrain, Steve Jones will present alongside Coulthard, Mark Webber, Alice Powell, and Ariana Bravo, while Lee McKenzie, Jamie Chadwick, Billy Monger, and Lawrence Barretto will join them throughout the year.

F1 has announced various rights extensions in the off-season overseas, including in Mexico and Belgium, where the sport will continue to air on FOX Sports Mexico and Play Sports.

Over in Asia, the sport will continue its long-standing partnership with Fuji Television in Japan, with their agreement with DAZN also continuing in the market until the end of 2025.

Fans in India will have access to live action via F1’s over-the-top service for the first time, while beIN SPORTS will cover F1 in ten territories across Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Elsewhere in the motor sport spectrum, 2023 sees the end of the BT Sport brand in the UK. While MotoGP remains live on BT Sport, and both World Superbikes and British Superbikes remain on Eurosport, all three will become part of the TNT Sports brand in the medium term.

TNT Sports becomes the new name for BT Sport from July, with Eurosport merging into the brand “sometime into the future” following the announcement of a joint venture between BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery last year.

The F1 Academy series launches in April; however, details of broadcasting arrangements are unknown as of writing.

Plenty on offer in the podcasting world

The BBC remains F1’s radio rights holders in the UK, with every race airing across either BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra or the BBC Sport website.

Thursday 2nd March
20:00 to 21:00 – Season Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 3rd March
11:25 to 12:45 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13:30 to 14:00 – Bahrain Grand Prix Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
14:55 to 16:15 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Saturday 4th March
11:25 to 12:45 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:55 to 16:15 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Sunday 5th March
14:45 to 17:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

The full UK radio schedule for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Rosanna Tennant leads their offering for the start of 2023 season following Jennie Gow’s serious stroke at the end of December. Writing on Twitter last week, Gow said  “I’m gutted not to be well enough to return to the paddock and to bring you all the excitement.”

“My recovery is progressing well – considering eight weeks ago I wasn’t able to move fully or speak at all!” Motorsport Broadcasting wishes Gow well on her recovery.

Jack Nicholls and Harry Benjamin will share the lead commentator microphone on 5 Live, alongside a roster of talent including Formula E driver Sam Bird, Chadwick and Palmer. Supplementing the BBC’s main race offering will be their Chequered Flag podcast, presented by the 5 Live team.

Joining 5 Live in the motor sport space this year is talkSPORT, who have launched a one-hour weekly show in collaboration with Formula E.

Presented by Jon Jackson, On Track airs on talkSPORT 2 on Tuesday afternoons, focusing not only on the electric series, but also on other championships, including F1 and MotoGP.

Where original audio and podcast content is concerned, the BBC’s and talkSPORT’s offering is only the beginning in a vast landscape this season.

Sky have launched their own podcast, with new episodes premiering every Tuesday. Presented by Matt Baker, The Sky Sports F1 Podcast replaces Any Driven Monday, which will not return to Sky’s YouTube channel after a single season on air.

Say hello to the faces of the newest F1 podcast, The Fast and The Curious: Greg James, Christian Hewgill and Betty Glover (l-r).

The Race Media have refreshed their WTF1 brand in the winter break, with two of the brand’s key players, Tom Bellingham and Matt Gallagher moving to pastures new.

The two have been largely responsible for the brand’s growth over the past decade, taking the brand from start-up to major player in the motor sport landscape. Instead, the two opted to create P1 with Matt & Tommy, a brand that they have full creative control over.

Content creators Andre Harrison, Hannah Atkinson, Ciaran Oakes, and Charley Williams have joined WTF1 ahead of the new season, with Jack Nicholls’ hosting WTF1’s s flagship Internet’s Best Reactions YouTube series.

“I believe the new team we have assembled gives us the best opportunity to keep the brand relevant and cater to the next generation of Formula 1 fans,” said The Race Media founder and COO Andrew van de Burgt.

Another new addition to the podcasting world this season is The Fast and The Curious, with a few recognisable faces to a non-F1 audience. BBC Radio 1 presenter Greg James hosts the podcast alongside Betty Glover and Christian Hewgill.

The show’s creators says that the podcast is “die-hard fans as well as those who are curious to learn more about the fascinating F1 world and the characters that inhabit it,” with guests in the opening episodes including Mercedes driver George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, and new Williams rookie Logan Sergeant.

And, if that was not enough, ex-Sky F1 pundit Herbert and Monger have launched the Lift the Lid podcast, while Whisper have launched a podcast with Coulthard and Eddie Jordan.

Lift the Lid has been “brought together through a love of F1 and their joint experience of life-changing crashes,” the two “join forces to give a unique drivers-eye-view on all the hottest topics from up and down the F1 grid each week!”

The Athletic joins the F1 media pack

A big addition on the writing front for 2023 is The Athletic, who have snapped up journalists Luke Smith from Autosport and Madeline Coleman from Sports Illustrated to kick start their coverage.

Introducing their F1 offering, The Athletic’s Managing Editor for F1, Alex Davies said “Our coverage will build on The Athletic’s mission of going beyond the chyron delivering scores and stats to the bottom of your TV screen.”

“From each racetrack around the world, we’ll dive deep into the personalities, technology, strategy, business, politics, culture and miscellanea of F1,” Davies added.

“Whether you’re new to F1 or a Serious Fan, we’ll get you up to speed by telling you not just who won, but how and what it means. Not just fighting words, but the roots of the rivalries. Not just how to tune into a race, but how to watch it like a pro.”

Davies highlights Drive to Survive as a factor in The Athletic beginning its F1 coverage, which has already been recommissioned for season six covering the 2023 season.

Autosport and The Race remain on the starting grid both in the written media and podcasting world, the latter now firmly embedded into the paddock and heading into their fourth season covering the sport.

Other faces to follow across social media in 2023 include Auto Motor und Sport’s Tobi Grüner and technical expert Albert Fabrega, the two breaking stories before the UK contingent of journalists.

AMuS’s most recent exclusive concerns the future of the AlphaTauri team, with owners Red Bull considering to put the team up for sale, a suggestion later denied by the team.

If journalists or broadcasters are not your thing, there is the other option of going DTT: direct-to-team. Expect plenty of content across the ten teams’ and 20 drivers social media channels this year, bringing fans closer to the action.

While Drive to Survive and broadcasters, such as Sky, aim to give all the grid ample coverage, some teams receive the short straw last season.

A tweet posted a few weeks ago by Williams suggested that they were releasing a behind the scenes documentary series focusing on their 2022 season, however Williams have since deleted the tweet.

Whether it is Red Bull’s Behind the Charge series or McLaren’s Unboxed, there is plenty of content to engage fans throughout 2023 across the different platforms.

Are Red Bull set to dominate 2023?

Audience figures stayed stable in 2022, with F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media reporting a cumulative audience of 1.54 billion viewers, resulting in an average per race worldwide of 70 million viewers.

Other metrics reported by Liberty indicate that F1 remains on the rise, with strong attendances following the COVID-19 pandemic and a 23% rise in the number of social media followers.

Early signs from testing suggest that Red Bull are the outfit to beat this year, as Max Verstappen looks to clinch his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship. Nevertheless, F1 will be hoping for a closer championship battle this year to keep the audience engaged through the 23 races.

Can Red Bull remain at the front, or will Ferrari, Mercedes and even Aston Martin pose a threat this season? Will it be Verstappen celebrating at the end of 2023, or are we looking at Verstappen vs Hamilton, round 2?

In the words of Sky Sports: enjoy the ride.

If you enjoyed this article, consider contributing 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.

Last updated on March 3rd at 20:20 to add details about Channel 4’s on-air team, Sky’s multi-screen options, a minor tweak to Sky’s schedule and a new podcast from Whisper.


Analysing the disparity between the front runners and tailenders in Sky’s F1 offering

Teams at the front of the Formula 1 grid are eight times more likely to appear during Sky Sports’ coverage of the sport compared to those in the midfield and beyond, new research from Motorsport Broadcasting shows.

The research focuses on the areas of Sky’s offering which are prepared in advance. This includes their build-up to each qualifying, sprint, and race session during 2022, encompassing paddock interviews, driver analysis via the Sky Pad and feature-length segments.

The main aim of the research is to understand what level of coverage that the broadcaster actively gives to each Grand Prix team. A gap in coverage between those at the front and the rear would be unsurprising and has existed for decades, however, the level of disparity from a UK perspective is currently unknown.

Excluded from the research are the ‘glamour’ VTs before and after a commercial break, ad-hoc analysis from within the paddock, post-race analysis, and Sky’s supplementary programming, including The F1 Show and Any Driven Monday given their lower audience.

While Sky primarily serves its audience at home, English-speaking countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia, take their UK offering.

Leclerc and Horner lead the field

There were two men during 2022 that featured predominantly during Sky’s pre-session output: Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Out of all the content last season that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to a given driver, Leclerc featured in 13.7% of it.

Leclerc’s fortunes at the front of Sky’s field were in stark contrast to team mate Carlos Sainz, who was part of just 4.9% of their driver offering, the biggest disparity on the grid during 2022.

Sky focussed on Leclerc through the majority of his 2022 campaign with analysis of his pole position laps, before his championship challenge ended, while Sainz comparatively speaking struggled to get a look in.

However, Sky did air one of the most insightful pieces of the year with Sainz, taking a behind the scenes look at his preparation for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with trainer Rupert Manwaring also involved.

From an airtime perspective, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pipped Red Bull driver Max Verstappen by 0.04 percentage points, the two coming in on 11.60% and 11.56% respectively. Hamilton beat team mate George Russell by 1.6%, while Verstappen beat Sergio Perez more convincingly.

PositionDriverTeamPercentage of content featured in during 2022
1Charles LeclercFerrari13.7%
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes11.6%
3Max VerstappenRed Bull11.6%
4George RussellMercedes10.0%
5Lando NorrisMcLaren9.4%
6Daniel RicciardoMcLaren6.1%
7Sebastian VettelAston Martin5.2%
8Fernando AlonsoAlpine4.9%
9Carlos SainzFerrari4.8%
10Sergio PerezRed Bull4.5%
11Esteban OconAlpine4.5%
12Kevin MagnussenHaas3.3%
13Alex AlbonWilliams2.3%
14Nyck de VriesWilliams1.7%
15Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri1.6%
16Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo1.4%
17Mick SchumacherHaas1.3%
18Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1.2%
19Lance StrollAston Martin0.7%
20Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo0.4%
21Nicholas LatifiWilliams0.0%
22Nico HulkenbergAston Martin0.0%
A look at the percentage of driver-related content that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to each driver. Note: Motorsport Broadcasting has counted all Nyck de Vries’s interviews as Williams for the purpose of this analysis.

Like Sainz, Perez received inferior treatment compared to his championship challenging team mate, with Sky opting to feature Perez at his home race in Mexico along with a segment off-site earlier in the season in Canada following his Monaco victory.

Outside of the leading six drivers, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was best of the rest ahead of another veteran in Fernando Alonso, the two drivers beating their younger team mates.

The difference between Vettel and team mate Lance Stroll was far more pronounced than the duel at Alpine, the difference between the two drivers the third biggest in the field. Sky featured Vettel in 5.2% of driver content compared to 0.7% for Stroll.

At the other end of the leader board, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi did not feature in a single interview during Sky’s pre-sessions build-ups in 2022.

A surprising entry down also at the bottom is Valtteri Bottas, with both Alfa Romeo drivers rarely featured. If it was not for Zhou Guanyu’s crash at the British Grand Prix, which Sky followed up with an extended segment at the next round in Austria, it is likely Zhou would have joined Bottas at the back.

Out of all the content last season that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to a given team member (excluding drivers), Red Bull boss Horner featured in a whopping 33.7% of it, almost double his nearest rival. Horner featured more in Sky’s build-ups than 19 of the 20 drivers during 2022.

PositionPersonTeamPercentage of content featured in during 2022
1Christian HornerRed Bull33.7%
2Toto WolffMercedes18.2%
3Guenther SteinerHaas7.9%
4Mattia BinottoFerrari7.7%
5Andreas SeidlMcLaren6.8%
6Felipe DrugovichAston Martin4.3%
7Otmar SzafnauerAlpine3.8%
8Hannah SchmitzRed Bull2.9%
9Zak BrownMcLaren2.8%
A look at the percentage of team personnel related content that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to each team member. Note: As Felipe Drugovich was in Aston Martin gear during his interviews, Motorsport Broadcasting has classified Drugovich as a member of the Aston Martin team for the purpose of this analysis.

In comparison, Sky aired 18.2% and 7.7% of team content related to Mercedes lead Toto Wolff and then-Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. Pipping Binotto into third was someone who has risen in popularity thanks to Netflix’s Drive to Survive: Haas boss Guenther Steiner.

Sky eight times more likely to feature top three teams than bottom three teams

If a large disparity between the top and bottom teams exists on track, a similar (but not as large), exists off the track as well.

Analysis from Motorsport Broadcasting suggests that Sky were eight times more likely to feature the top teams compared to the bottom teams during the 2022 season. Again, this largely consists of material pre-prepared by the production team, such as an extended interview off site.

But all the interviews add up, showing that it is much easier for fans to get to know and understand the livelihoods of the personnel at the front of the field compared to the rear, even with hours of air time to fill across a season.

Red Bull and Mercedes led the way from a team perspective, this metric encompassing the drivers and key team personnel, such as team principals and technical directors.

The Milton Keynes based outfit led their Brackley rivals by just under a percentage point, with Red Bull on 21.8% and the Silver Arrows on 20.9%. Sainz’s weak showing, combined with Binotto trailing Wolff and Horner, meant that Ferrari slipped behind their rivals, sitting on 16.6%.

PositionTeamMost talked about during……because…Percentage of content featured in during 2022
1Red BullAbu DhabiPost-Brazil fallout and one year on from Abu Dhabi 202121.8%
2MercedesBahrainPre-season interviews with both drivers20.9%
3FerrariMonacoInterview with Charles Leclerc at home Grand Prix16.6%
4McLarenFranceInterview with Daniel Ricciardo addressing rumours about his future13.2%
5AlpineHungarySpecial grid walk and one year on from Ocon’s Hungary 2021 victory10.2%
6Aston MartinAbu DhabiFeature reflecting on Sebastian Vettel’s career5.6%
7HaasSaudi ArabiaInterviews following good result in season opener5.2%
8WilliamsBrazilSky Pad track guide with Alex Albon3.2%
9AlphaTauriJapanInterview with Pierre Gasly following 2023 announcement2.0%
10Alfa RomeoAustriaInterview with Zhou Guanyu following Silverstone accident1.4%
A look at the percentage of team related content that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to each team.

Red Bull featured in Sky’s offering in all but one round. Sky barely featured them during their British Grand Prix build-up coverage, an indirect result of the Silverstone round airing live on free-to-air television on Channel 4.

Sky focussed on Mercedes from the outset, the broadcaster filming pre-season segments with both drivers, while an extended feature in Australia sought to understand the team’s struggles in more detail. Up until Abu Dhabi were Mercedes the team that Sky had focused on the most throughout 2022.

But while the top three teams equated for 59.3% of air time when focusing on teams only, the bottom three teams made up just 6.9% of the share.

It is a massive difference, considering the swathe of air time that Sky has on offer through each of the 22 race weekends.

To put the percentages into time perspective, Motorsport Broadcasting associated 10 minutes of content to Alfa Romeo compared with 2 hours and 40 minutes of content to Red Bull. The gulf between the two would likely be even larger if the analysis covered general paddock discussion between Sky’s pool of analysts.

The story of Sky’s coverage offering evolved as the season progressed. Ferrari’s presence halved in the second half of the season, while Aston Martin were three times more likely to feature later in the season compared to the beginning.

McLaren have historically been popular with British F1 fans, and 2022 was no exception. In addition, the Daniel Ricciardo rumours that swirled round the team meant they received a disproportionate amount of air time on Sky during their build-up programming last year.

The Woking outfit earned 6.8% of the points on offer in 2022, but Sky showed the team for 13.2% of the available air time that Motorsport Broadcasting attributed to teams, the biggest positive difference for a single squad.

The ‘non-team’ angle to Sky’s offering revealed

One aspect not covered until this point are those who do not work for a specific team, yet played a significant role in Sky’s Formula 1 coverage in 2022. Enter Stefano Domenicali, Felipe Massa, and James Corden.

Domenicali became F1 CEO in 2020, and has since regularly appeared on Sky to discuss the latest political events. Off the back of events at the end of 2021, Sky sat down with Domenicali at the season opener in Bahrain, the segment taking up a portion of their qualifying build-up.

Combining this feature with various grid and paddock interviews meant that Sky featured Domenicali in their build-ups more than 8 drivers, and more than all but two team principals.

Working for F1 in an official capacity as part of their digital team meant that Sky interviewed Massa during six separate race weekends. Massa was one of many ex F1 drivers featured last year, a list that included names such as Emerson Fittipaldi (encompassing a special Lotus 72 feature), Sir Jackie Stewart, Jean Alesi, and Flavio Briatore.

During the 2022 season, Sky spent as much time interviewing Aston Martin personnel as they did speaking to celebrities in the paddock or on the grid. Sky interviewed at least 45 celebrities, with James Corden and Tom Brady leading the way thanks to their contribution to Sky’s Miami Grand Prix coverage.

Impressionist Conor Moore rounded out the top three, Moore playing his part in one of the best segments of the year on Sky, Moore doing his best impression of Carlos Sainz on the Sky Pad, before the real Sainz interrupted during their US Grand Prix offering.

RaceTeams FeaturedTeams Not Featured
Abu Dhabi46
A look at how the teams featured in each build-up session on Sky during 2022. Note: Sky reduced their coverage of the Italian Grand Prix due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Miami, Britain, and Austin led the way from a celebrity perspective, while fans yearning for a celebrity free zone got their wish on six occasions during 2022, with no celebrities in sight in Imola, Azerbaijan, France, Hungary, Italy, or Japan.

The inaugural Miami race was a major outlier for Sky, with only six drivers getting any attention during the qualifying and race build-up. The broadcaster opted to give fans a behind the scenes look at the event, with segments at the Beach Club, a guide to the city and celebrity interviews prioritised.

In comparison, Sky featured all ten teams and 15 of the 20 drivers in both Singapore and Brazil, aided by a rain delay and a Sprint weekend respectively. Kevin Magnussen’s shock pole position in Brazil for Haas helped give the broadcaster a different angle later in the season.

Where are we now?

The analysis from Motorsport Broadcasting shows a clear gulf between the top and bottom teams during 2022.

Last season, Sky aired at most Grand Prix around 150 minutes of build-up across their qualifying and race day shows, a vast increase on what free-to-air broadcasters offered prior to 2012 when Sky came into the fold.

While the jump is great for fans, what is not clear is whether the added exposure has led to a more equitable balance across the grid. The analysis would suggest that this has not happened, at least a decade on since Sky began airing F1.

In other news, Paul di Resta and Johnny Herbert will not be part of Sky’s line-up for the upcoming 2023 season. In a statement to Mirror Sport, the broadcaster confirmed that the remainder of their 2022 talent pool would remain with them for 2023.

Over 22 races, around 17 hours of feature-based content aired, encompassing grid walk interviews, Sky Pad driver segments and off-site interviews, during Sky’s build-up coverage.

The coronavirus pandemic has limited the possibilities for Sky in recent years, but the wider paddock was back to a near-normal situation in 2022.

Sky aired many features covering F1, both past and present, but did not cover the British contingent in either F2, F3 or the W Series, such as rising F3 star Oliver Bearman, despite having the broadcasting rights to all three series (it is possible that segments aired on The F1 Show, outside of the scope of this analysis).

One could argue that with 22 races now on the F1 calendar, there is no excuse not to feature every F1 driver in-depth during their race day programming.

As nice as it was to hear from Leclerc last season, hearing from the same driver during the track parade, in the paddock, on the grid and then in pit lane immediately before lights out becomes repetitive.

Mixing up the voices we hear on air would be no bad thing, but broadcasters would rightly say that teams at the front of the field bring the casual fan to their programming. A segment with Leclerc an hour before lights out is likely to bring more viewers than, for example, a segment with Stroll at the other end of the pit lane.

There is no denying though that, unless an incident occurs at the tail end of the field that requires follow-up analysis, they are for the most part neglected and pushed to the side.

Arguably, from a broadcasting perspective, the teams at the back of the grid would lose the most should an 11th team join F1.

The broadcasters airing F1 would still focus on the front, but anyone from the midfield downwards would find themselves increasingly squeezed if a new outfit joined the grid, unless they began to progress to the front.

For now, ten teams and twenty drivers enter the fight, both on the track and off it, heading into the 2023 season.

If you enjoyed this article, consider contributing 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.

F1 and Sky extend broadcast deals across UK, Italy and Germany

Sky Sports will continue to broadcast Formula 1 across key European territories in forthcoming seasons, the two parties have today (September 30th) confirmed.

In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Sky will air Formula 1 until the end of the 2029 season, a five-year extension to their existing deal which was set to expire at the end of 2024.

Further afield in Europe, the broadcaster has extended their rights agreements with F1 in Italy and Germany until the end of 2027. Deals in both territories were set to expire at the end of this season.

The deal includes broadcast rights to Formula Two, Formula Three and the Porsche Supercup.

Live coverage of the home race, and highlights of all other races, will remain available on a free-to-air basis. This is the same as the current UK deal, but an increased level of exclusivity for Sky in Italy and Germany, with fewer races available live on a free-to-air basis.

As part of the new agreement, F1 TV’s premium-level offering, which allowed fans access to live action, will no longer be available to fans in Germany.

F1 says that, from 2023, viewers watching via Sky will have an “improved multi-screen and second-screen option, tracking their favourite driver’s position on the circuit or selecting a driver’s on-board camera.”

The wording here indicates that UK fans will not have access to F1 TV, a source of contention for some fans in the UK. However, it is possible that the experience via Sky’s improved options will be on parity with that offered by F1 TV.

Formula 1’s president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said “We are incredibly proud of our long-term partnership with Sky, and we are delighted to announce that we will continue working together until 2029, a very important commitment from Sky.”

“Since the beginning of our relationship in 2012 we have both strived to bring the excitement, emotion, and drama of Formula 1 to our traditional fans while engaging new and more diverse audiences. Formula 1 has seen huge growth in recent years, and I can’t think of a better partner to continue to reach our fans with dedicated, expert and in-depth coverage.”

Sky not only brings fans live coverage but a range of behind-the-scenes access and content that brings F1 to life. We are hugely excited about the future of the partnership and the journey of Formula 1.”

Stephen van Rooyen, Executive Vice President & CEO, Sky UK & Europe, added “Every race. Every moment. Every twist and turn. All exclusively live on Sky for years to come!”

“Formula 1 continues to break records on Sky, with millions more watching than ever before across our markets, driven by new younger and female fans which is fantastic for the sport. More than 80 countries will continue to enjoy our world class analysis and content of one of the most exhilarating sports in the world.”

While Sky Sports will continue to broadcast F1 in the UK until 2029, it is unclear whether Channel 4 will remain involved from a free-to-air perspective following the conclusion of the 2022 season.

The broadcaster, which has aired Formula 1 on free-to-air television since 2016, issued a “no comment” statement when asked by this site whether they will continue to cover F1 next season.

Announcement in the making for some time

Motorsport Broadcasting understands that the announcement has been in the making for some time. The extension is not a surprise to this writer, who accurately predicted the timing of the announcement back in July 2021.

F1 and Sky were originally set to announce the extension on the Friday of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, however both parties agreed to delay the announcement following the death of Queen Elizabeth II the evening before.

Sky have made moves in recent months to lock in long-term deals in the UK: Scottish football (2029), England cricket (2028) and PGA Tour golf (multi-year) some of the most recent extensions, however the F1 extension is their most high profile yet.

By the end of 2029, Sky will have broadcast 18 F1 championships and close to 400 races live on their F1 channel, compared with 12 full seasons on ITV and 22 full seasons on the BBC (19 under the ‘Grand Prix’ banner and 3 from 2009 to 2011).

While Sky’s F1 viewing figures in the UK largely plateaued when coverage of half the races also aired across the BBC and later Channel 4, their viewing figures have surged in recent years.

The broadcaster was the beneficiary of a titanic championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen last year, while also benefiting from Netflix’s Drive to Survive season, increasing their younger audience.

The positive trajectory has continued for Sky in the UK into 2022, with the British Grand Prix in July recording Sky’s highest ever audience for the home round.

Sky say that their audiences are skewing younger than in previous years, their offering also attracting more women to F1.

F1 audience statistics
Sky UK and Ireland

  • Average audience for 2022: 1.7 million (up 60% since 2019)
  • 4.3m new viewers to Sky Sports F1 since 2019, of which 1.7m were women
  • 4 of the top 5 most watched races ever on Sky during 2022

Sky Italia

  • Average audience for 2022: 1.5 million (up 20% since 2021)
  • Most watched Grand Prix in Italian pay-TV history was Saudi Arabia with 1.937 million viewers

Sky Deutschland

  • Average audience up 24% since 2021
  • Half of new viewers aged under 35
  • 40% of new viewers overall are women
  • Most watched Grand Prix was Saudi Arabia with 1.38 million viewers
Source: Sky

Sky will be hoping the Drive to Survive halo continues into future seasons, as their new deals with F1 come into effect.

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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.

F1’s UK audience figures rise in 2021, but series sees worldwide dip

Formula 1’s UK audience figures rose to their highest level in around four to five years as the titanic battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton came to a climax, however, audience figures dipped worldwide, analysis from Motorsport Broadcasting shows.

The consolidated UK data, released by BARB, includes viewers who watched the Grand Prix within seven days of the original transmission across TV, PC, smartphone, and tablet (defined by BARB as ‘four-screen viewing data’), the body no longer splitting these out into separate components.

A small number of historical data points are missing; however, these are not statistically significant enough to impact the overall trajectory.

In addition, this analysis excludes the Russian Grand Prix, as Sky’s figures for that weekend are unavailable, but does include the shortened Belgian Grand Prix.

Sky’s figures rise to highest ever level…

On race day, Sky split their programming into three or four blocks, depending on weekend.

Their build-up normally lasts 85 minutes, with the race segment lasting 135 minutes. The ‘Chequered Flag’ programme follows the podium for 60 minutes, whilst Ted’s Notebook sometimes wraps up proceedings.

Across a mix of Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase, an average audience of 1.59 million viewers watched the 22 races live on Sky during 2021, their highest ever audience for Formula 1.

Year-on-year, Sky’s figures increased by 25.7% from 1.27 million viewers in 2020, the fourth consecutive year that Sky’s F1 audience has increased.

For the first time, over 2 million viewers watched an F1 race live via one of Sky’s television channels. The season started well in Bahrain, with an average of 1.94 million viewers watching the race, peaking above the 2 million mark.

Later in the year, 2.11 million viewers watched a dramatic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix unfold, with 2.30 million opting to stay with Sky for the season decider in Abu Dhabi. The latter figure excludes those who decided to watch Sky’s broadcast on Channel 4.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Dutch Grand Prix was Sky’s lowest rated of 2021, averaging just 1.12 million viewers.

Competition from other channels was easier than usual, with no Premier League football, however the race followed the farcical Belgian Grand Prix one week earlier, which may have invertedly caused a dip.

Sky’s wrap around programming felt the benefit of the championship battle, with their pre-race build-up increasing by 13.9% year-on-year, while their post-race analysis increased by 31.1%, both double their 2018 averages.

Unsurprisingly, both Britain and Italy saw larger post-race audiences, thanks to Hamilton and Verstappen’s on-track incidents, with 407,000 viewers sticking around for the Silverstone post-race analysis and 448,000 viewers sticking around for the Monza debrief.

The new F1 Sprint format also performed well, with an average of 739,000 viewers watching Hamilton charge through the field in Brazil, the figure including Sky’s extensive wrap-around programming.

Sky gained an extra competitive session because of the change, with the displaced Friday qualifying session performing strongly. Both the Italian and Brazilian qualifying programmes averaged 470,000 viewers, comfortably above Sky’s usual practice average.

…as Channel 4’s audience continues to drop…

While Sky benefited from the intense championship battle, Channel 4 saw no obvious benefit, outside of the Abu Dhabi decider.

Highlights of 20 races on the free-to-air broadcaster (excluding Silverstone and Abu Dhabi) averaged 1.50 million viewers, down 14.4% of the 2020 average of 1.75 million viewers.

Including Silverstone and Abu Dhabi, the 23 races on Channel 4 averaged 1.63 million viewers, down on the equivalent 2020 figure of 1.80 million viewers. An average of 3.36 million viewers watched the season decider live on Channel 4.

The return of USA and Mexico to the F1 calendar hurt Channel 4’s average, both bringing in less than a million viewers after 7 days of consolidation, in part thanks to their late night time slot on Sunday.

Channel 4’s weak average was compounded by the fact that five of the European based races (France, Styria, Belgium, Netherlands and Turkey) averaged under 1.50 million viewers compared with one race (Abu Dhabi) in 2020.

Nevertheless, there were some positive numbers in amongst the overall decline for Channel 4, with the Emilia Romagna, Hungarian and Italian rounds drawing in close to 2 million viewers for their 150-minute highlights packages.

An average of 1.97 million viewers watched as Hamilton and Verstappen collided for the second time in 2021 at Monza, a slight increase on an equally dramatic 2020 Italian Grand Prix, which brought in 1.88 million viewers.

…but the overall UK picture is positive…

Unsurprisingly, Hamilton versus Verstappen drew in the viewers in 2021.

3.22 million viewers watched across Sky Sports and Channel 4, an increase of 5.1% on 2020 average audience of 3.06 million viewers, bringing audience figures back to a level last seen in 2016 and 2017.

However, the 2021 average dropped slightly at end of season compared with the mid-season figure of 3.24 million viewers.

As referenced both the USA and Mexican rounds performed poorly on Channel 4, with Sky’s live audience failing to offset the Channel 4 drop. The lack of increase may also suggest audience fatigue crept in as the season progressed.

For example, the Qatar Grand Prix averaged 3.15 million viewers, 1,000 viewers fewer than the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite the championship battle having stepped up considerably by that point.

The season finale in Abu Dhabi was the most watched race of 2021, with 5.66 million viewers watching live across Channel 4 and Sky Sports, this figure including some of the pre-race build-up and post-race wrap-around.

Overnight data showed that a peak of 7.4 million viewers watched as Verstappen overtook Hamilton to win the F1 title.

Saudi Arabia, Britain and the season opener in Bahrain also drew strong audiences. The inaugural race in Saudi averaged 3.88 million viewers, F1’s highest average at that time since the 2018 US Grand Prix.

Channel 4’s and Sky’s F1 audiences continued to converge, with a 49:51 split between the two broadcasters.

Assuming Sky’s audience figures remain strong this season, it is increasingly likely that they will become the dominant F1 broadcaster, from an audience share perspective, in the UK moving forward.

…as F1 faces a worldwide audience dip

While Formula 1’s audience increased in the UK thanks to the championship battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, worldwide the sports average audience dropped significantly.

An average of 70.3 million viewers watched each race, a decrease of 20% on 2020’s average of 87.4 million viewers, and down on the 2019 figure of 91 million viewers.

F1 says that the decrease is due to a change in broadcast rights in Germany and Brazil. For markets where broadcast rights have remained identical, audience figures increased by 13% to 60.3 million viewers, which F1 says is the best figure since 2013.

Taking the figures at face value, this implies that where broadcast rights changed hands between 2020 and 2021, F1’s average audience dropped by 24.1 million viewers, from 34 million viewers in 2020 to 9.9 million viewers in 2021.

SeasonCumulative Audience% y-o-yAverage Audience% y-o-yRaces Held
20181.76 billionn/a83.7 millionn/a21
20191.92 billion9%91.5 million9%21
20201.49 billion-23%87.4 million-5%17
20211.55 billion4%70.5 million-19%22
Source: Formula 1 press releases / Motorsport Broadcasting analysis

The drop is significant for F1, but unsurprising in some ways. F1 themselves highlighted in their 2019 data release that Brazil and Germany were two of their top markets, a statistic that will have since changed two years later.

While not impacting the whole of 2021, it is likely that the closure of Fox Sports in Asia also dented F1’s average across the season. F1 needed to find new homes in territories such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia after Fox closed its doors in early Autumn.

The fact that F1’s figures have increased for territories where the TV rights have stayed the same is good, but it fails to account for the overall worldwide drop that F1 has experienced. Like Formula 1, Formula E also used their cumulative audience data to hide a race-by-race drop.

Over on F1’s digital platforms, analysis by this site shows that the amount of people watching F1’s race highlights packages on YouTube has increased by 41% year-on-year, from an average of 5.24 million viewers in 2020 to 7.38 million viewers in 2021.

Both the cumulative TV audience and unique audience increased by 4% and 3% respectively year-on-year to 1.55 billion viewers and 445 million viewers, reflecting the longer calendar compared with 2020.

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.