Scheduling: The 2022 Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads back down under for the first time in over two years, for the return of the Australian Grand Prix!

The eyes of the world were, for a short period, focused on Melbourne in March 2020 as COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 season opener, with the 2021 event also cancelled.

Now, the 10 teams and 20 drivers return to a revised, faster Albert Park layout, as Ferrari and Red Bull look to battle it out for victory in front of an always enthusiastic Australian crowd.

F1 returns to Melbourne…

Live coverage of the Grand Prix airs through the night across all three days on Sky Sports and BBC Radio, with the race itself starting at 06:00 on Sunday morning.

For Sky Sports subscribers, coverage of every session airs across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event.

Channel 4’s highlights of qualifying air earlier than usual on Saturday, and later than usual on Sunday, owing to their other sporting commitments in the form of live rugby union and Formula E (see below).

After missing Jeddah, Steve Jones returns to Channel 4’s line-up, joined throughout the Melbourne weekend by David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Lawrence Barretto and Alex Jacques.

Meanwhile, over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Harry Benjamin steps into the commentary booth for the first time this season, deputising for Jack Nicholls who is on Formula E duty.

Supporting F1 down in Melbourne is the Supercars championship, heading into its third race weekend, with Shane van Gisbergen continuing to lead the series.

For fans of the series outside of Australia, it is unlikely that the action will appear on SuperView due to the international F1 broadcasting rights, but will be available in short form highlights on YouTube.

All F1 sessions are available to listen live via BBC’s F1 website.

Thursday 7th April
20:00 to 21:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 8th April
01:00 to 02:30 – F1: Drivers’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
03:30 to 05:30 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 03:55 to 05:05
06:45 to 08:45 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 06:55 to 08:05
08:45 to 09:45 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)

Saturday 9th April
03:45 to 05:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 03:55 to 05:05
06:00 to 08:30 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 06:55 to 08:05
08:30 to 09:00 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
11:00 to 12:30 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)

Sunday 10th April
04:30 to 09:30 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 04:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 05:55 – Race
– also BBC Radio 5 Live from 05:45 to 08:00
=> 08:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 09:00 – Ted’s Notebook
15:05 to 17:35 – F1: Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

…MotoGP returns to America…

On the other side of the world, MotoGP heads north from Argentina to the Circuit of Americas in Texas for the Grand Prix of the Americas!

Live coverage airs in a primetime viewing slot for UK viewers on BT Sport 2. Suzi Perry returns as lead presenter, having opted to step aside for the Argentine weekend for Natalie Quirk.

Writing on her Instagram, Perry said “I’m not going to Termas de Río Hondo, (the Argentine GP) because 3 years ago in 2019 (the last time we were there), I contracted a dengue fever virus, followed by post viral fatigue so I had to miss 3 race weekends.”

“I’ve chosen to miss this out because I don’t want to risk a repeat performance.”

On the scheduling front, the main change is that Moto3 takes place at the end of the day instead of the beginning, with the main MotoGP class starting at 19:00 on Sunday.

Friday 8th April
15:00 to 22:00 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:00 – Moto2: Practice 1
=> 15:55 – MotoGP: Practice 1
=> 16:55 – Moto3: Practice 1
=> 19:15 – Moto2: Practice 2
=> 20:10 – MotoGP: Practice 2
=> 21:10 – Moto3: Practice 2

Saturday 9th April
15:00 to 22:00 – Practice and Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:00 – Moto2: Practice 3
=> 15:55 – MotoGP: Practice 3
=> 16:55 – Moto3: Practice 3
=> 18:35 – Moto2: Qualifying
=> 19:30 – MotoGP: Practice 4
=> 20:00 – MotoGP: Qualifying
=> 21:10 – Moto3: Qualifying

Sunday 10th April
15:15 to 22:30 – Races (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:15 – Warm Ups
=> 16:30 – Moto2: Race
=> 18:30 – MotoGP: Race
=> 20:15 – Moto3: Race
=> 21:30 – Chequered Flag

Monday 11th April
20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Grand Prix of the Americas. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

…while Formula E electrifies Rome

After an eight-week break, Formula E heads to Rome for a double-header event, marking rounds four and five of the current season.

Live coverage of the weekend airs across Channel 4’s and Eurosport’s linear channels and digital platforms.

As in Diriyah at the start of the year, the first race of the weekend airs on Channel 4’s YouTube channel, this time due to the aforementioned rugby coverage.

In contrast, the second race on Sunday directly precedes Channel 4’s Formula 1 highlights programme, so there is a potential opportunity for Formula E to hook some of the floating motor sport audience.

Saturday 9th April
06:10 to 06:55 – Practice 1 (Formula E’s YouTube)
07:55 to 08:40 – Practice 2 (Formula E’s YouTube)
09:30 to 11:15 – Qualifying (
Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
=> also on Eurosport 1 from 09:30 to 11:20
13:30 to 15:30 – Race 1 (Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
=> also on Eurosport 1 from 13:30 to 15:00

Sunday 10th April
07:25 to 08:10 – Practice 3 (Formula E’s YouTube)
09:30 to 11:15 – Qualifying (Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
13:30 to 15:05 – Race 2 (Channel 4)
=> also on Eurosport 2 from 14:00 to 15:35

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Rome E-Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

It is a packed weekend of action, with IndyCar from Long Beach (Sky Sports F1), Supercars and World Superbikes (Eurosport) also available for UK fans to watch throughout the weekend.

If scheduling details change, this article will be updated.

Additional Supercars details provided by Joshua Kerr.

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Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2022

2022 marks Sky’s eleventh season covering Formula 1 for fans in the UK, the sport having last aired fully free-to-air via the BBC in 2011.

From 2012 to 2018, the pay-TV broadcaster aired half of the races exclusively live, with the other half also airing live on free-to-air television.

Since 2019, Sky has covered F1 exclusively, with only the British Grand Prix airing live on free-to-air television on Channel 4. So, what options are available for UK F1 fans, and how does this compare to previous years?

Motorsport Broadcasting takes an in-depth look at the figures, to help fans decide which package is best for them…

Unlike last year, where the calendar was again subject to heavy change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks highly likely that F1 will stage a complete 23 race season with no COVID related interruptions.

F1 TV Pro

Formula 1 launched their over-the-top service in May 2018, and since then the service has grown in stature, both in terms of archive and in terms of live content.

Speculation mounted a few years ago that F1 TV Pro was set to land in the UK when F1 released a survey, suggesting that F1 TV Pro would be part of Sky’s TV platform Sky Q.

Despite the suggestions, nothing has since come to fruition, and for 2021, F1 TV Pro is again not an option for UK fans. UK fans can subscribe to F1 TV Access for £2.29 a month, or £19.99 across the year, which gives you access to F1’s rich archive.

The usual pay-TV comparisons below now include and exclude broadband, as all of Virgin Media’s pricing include broadband whether you want Virgin’s broadband package or not.

Sky

Sky’s latest attempt to entice new Sky Q subscribers to their platform is to bundle Netflix in as the default option.

The base Signature Pack costs £21.00 a month, in-line with previous years. However, when putting together a package, the Ultimate TV Add on for Netflix also appears, and it is not immediately clear how potential subscribers can remove this without phoning Sky up.

New subscribers can no longer subscribe to Sky Sports F1 only, although an offer is currently running for existing subscribers to upgrade for £18.00 a month. The cheapest broadband package, Superfast 35 costs £18.00 a month.

As always with Sky, their contracts last 18 months after which the price will increase, unless you can renegotiate the price.

OptionHD – no broadbandHD – broadbandUHD – no broadbandUHD -broadband
Signature£21.00£21.00£21.00£21.00
Sky Sports£20.00£20.00£20.00£20.00
Ultimate TV Add on£5.00£5.00£5.00£5.00
Ultra HD and HD  £10.00£10.00
Superfast 35 £18.00 £18.00
Monthly Cost£46.00£64.00£56.00£74.00
Yearly Cost£552.00£768.00£672.00£888.00
One-Off Installation Cost£20.00£20.00£20.00£20.00
Yearly Cost£572.00£788.00£692.00£908.00

Virgin Media

Before getting into the pricing, if you are considering subscribing to Virgin Media, do not enter your phone number when prompted on their website. Being cold called 7 times in 3 days is not fun…

Nevertheless, Virgin’s pricing is significantly better than what this site has reported in previous years. Virgin hiked up their TV pricing deliberately, to entice new customers to take out a combined TV and broadband package with them.

With the TV package on its own no longer available, the entry level price is slightly only higher than what Sky offer for TV and broadband.

One option is to combine Sky’s television package with Virgin’s cheapest broadband package (currently £25.00), resulting in a lower overall price. Like with Sky, Virgin operate on an initial 18-month contract before their prices increase.

OptionHD
Maxit TV (including BT Sport) 
Sky Sports 
M350 Fibre Broadband 
Monthly Cost£69.00
Yearly Cost£828.00
One-Off Installation Cost£0.00
Yearly Cost£828.00

BT TV

BT TV subscribers can watch Sky Sports via a Now pass.

Their Big Sport package encompasses both BT Sport and Sky Sports, whereas readers wanting to subscribe to BT Sport via Sky or Virgin would need to add BT Sport as a separate option to their package.

An additional benefit of BT is that you can flexibly change your packages as you see fit without any penalty.

OptionSDHD
BT Broadband£28.99£28.99
Big Sport£41.00£41.00
HD £5.00
Monthly Cost£69.99£74.99
Yearly Cost£839.88£899.88
One-Off Installation Cost£39.99£39.99
Yearly Cost£879.87£939.87

Now

If the idea of paying a significant amount of money for the pay-TV players does not sit well with you, there is the option of Now, an over-the-top service operated by Sky.

Like last year, Now e-mailed some fans with an exclusive offer to view all 11 Sky Sports channels for a reduced £18.99 a month for 12 months.

However, Now is running an offer on their website, giving fans the Sports Membership pack for £20.00 per month for nine months, meaning fans could watch F1 2022 for £180.00 (or £240.00 for HD), by far the most attractive option.

The Sports Membership option also gives fans access to additional on-board streams and catch-up options to watch F1. The offer ends on March 27th.

Now’s day pass has increased by £2.00 to £11.98, making this an even less attractive option than previous years.

In summary, there are 10 different options, across four different players this year:

– £939.87 – BT TV (HD – Broadband)
– £908.00 – Sky (UHD – Broadband)
– £879.87 – BT TV (SD – Broadband)
– £828.00 – Virgin Media (HD – Broadband)
– £788.00 – Sky (HD – Broadband)
– £692.00 – Sky (UHD – No Broadband)
– £572.00 – Sky (HD – No Broadband)
– £275.54 – Now (Day Pass x 23)
– £240.00 – Now (9 months Sports Membership + HD boost) – offer (expires March 27th)
– £180.00 – Now (9 months Sports Membership) – offer (expires March 27th)

In comparison, F1 TV Pro for fans in America costs $79.99 per year, which translates to £60.69 across the whole year, cheaper than any option above.

Are any of the options above cheap enough to hook you in? If you have spotted anything worth adding, or noted any other deals out there, drop a line in the comments below.

Pricing and information correct as of March 19th, 2022. Pricing is subject to change.

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Ben Edwards to return to commentary box with F1’s in-house team

Ben Edwards is to return to the commentary box for the upcoming 2022 Formula One season, the series has confirmed.

Edwards stepped down from his Channel 4 duties following the 2020 season, citing a need at the time to “step back from the front line of such an intense world and take a wider perspective on motorsport and life.”

By that point, Edwards had commentated on nine consecutive F1 seasons, firstly with the BBC from 2012 to 2015, and then with Channel 4 from 2016 to 2020.

Edwards made sporadic appearances last season for both BBC Radio 5 Live and Channel 4 last season, substituting for Jack Nicholls and Alex Jacques.

Now, the 56-year-old will formally return to the booth this year, forming part of F1’s digital team on their over-the-top platform F1 TV.

For Edwards, his return to F1’s in-house team is a throwback to 2002, when he commentated on the full season from F1’s Biggin Hill headquarters as part of the interactive F1 Digital+ platform on Sky Sports.

Edwards will commentate on 10 races this season, beginning in Bahrain this weekend alongside Jolyon Palmer. The pair, along with Will Buxton, Sam Collins, and Tom Gaymor, will be part of the F1 Live channel via F1 TV, the primary feed choice for F1 TV subscribers.

The F1 Live channel will offer “analysis ahead of each race with the teams’ technical directors showing off the car upgrades for the cameras and seamless programming throughout the weekend.”

Sky’s UK commentary, which used to be the main feed option on F1 TV, takes a back seat, but will still be available as a secondary option for subscribers.

Edwards started his F1 commentary career with Eurosport in the 1990s alongside John Watson, until Eurosport’s coverage ended following the 1996 season.

The partnership, which became popular with fans, continued beyond 1996, the two reuniting for F1 Digital+ in 2002, and again for A1 Grand Prix from 2005 onwards.

Speaking to Motorsport Broadcasting, Edwards spoke of his desire to return to the F1 commentary box, but on a reduced schedule.

“I’ve been doing commentary for a long time, and although there were a lot of years I wasn’t doing Formula 1, I was always doing a lot of stuff,” Edwards says.

“The end of 2020 was the right time for me to just back off and rejig myself a little bit, and I think that’s what I needed to do last year, and then this came up.”

“I found that I did enjoy doing a few races [last year]. When it became a possibility that I could do some races, and that there was a source happy for me to just some, that did become interesting to me.”

“I didn’t want to do the whole season now that it’s up to 23 races, but if I can do part of it and work with a team, then that appeals to me.”

“I went to Biggin Hill last week to look around. It’s a slightly different setup to how it was 20 years ago, but it’s the same building, and it felt familiar heading down there,” Edwards recalls.

“The only difference is I won’t have Bernie Ecclestone behind me as I did for my very first bit of commentary with John Watson in 2002!”

While the news of Edwards’ return to the booth is fantastic for subscribers of F1 TV Pro, fans in the UK will not be able to listen legally to Edwards’ commentary this season.

The premium-tier of F1’s over-the-top platform remains geo-blocked to UK fans thanks to F1’s existing deal with Sky Sports which runs until the end of 2024.

A survey released on the subject in 2020 explored potential options for UK fans, none of which have yet come to fruition.

HDR coming to F1 in 2022, with new graphics also set to debut

After successful tests last year fans in multiple territories, including the UK via Sky Sports, will be able to watch Formula 1 in High Dynamic Range (HDR) this season.

Sky says that the move will bring “brighter, sharper and bolder imagery to the sport than ever before will result in a true-to-life picture for every moment of suspense, every emotion and every podium this season,” as Sky aim to make HDR the new standard for fans.

Jonathan Licht, Sky Sports’ Managing Director, said “We are pleased to bring the 2022 Formula 1 season to life in a way fans won’t have experienced before.”

“The stunning picture quality offered through HDR will make viewing the new Formula 1 season even more exciting and impactful than ever.”

“As the exclusive home of live Formula 1 in the UK and Ireland we will bring Sky customers the drama from every circuit around the world straight into the comfort of their own homes.”

Ian Holmes, Formula 1’s Director of Media Rights and Content Creation, said “As we enter an exciting new era of Formula 1, it is fantastic that fans will now get to experience the 2022 season, and enjoy Sky Sports’ extensive Formula 1 coverage, in HDR.”

“This is the latest in a long line of innovations in F1’s production that allow us to bring racing to fans in new and engaging ways and we can’t wait to see it in action.”

In addition, and in a sign that F1 sees the 2022 season as the start a new era across the piece, new television graphics are set to debut this weekend in Bahrain.

Since the turn of the decade, F1’s graphics have changed around every 4 years, so a change at this point is perhaps unsurprising.

Early images from Bahrain suggest that the F1 digital on-screen graphic (DOG) will be repositioned to the top left corner of the screen, embedded into a new look timing tower.

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BBC extends F1 radio rights until end of 2024 season

The BBC will continue to broadcast Formula 1 exclusively across radio for the next three seasons, the broadcaster has confirmed.

Every session will air across BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sounds until the end of the 2024 season. By 2024, F1 will have aired on Radio 5 Live for 30 years, the new agreement extending an already long relationship between the two parties.

The free-to-air broadcaster continued to cover F1 on radio after they relinquished television rights at the end of 2015.

Jack Nicholls will lead the 5 Live commentary team, his seventh as full-time lead commentator with 5 Live, with Jennie Gow also remaining part of the line-up.

For the weekends which clash with Nicholls’ Formula E commitments, Motorsport Broadcasting understands that Harry Benjamin will substitute for Nicholls.

As reported earlier, Jolyon Palmer will remain with 5 Live, but in a reduced capacity, with Palmer moving to F1’s in-house team on a more permanent basis.

Instead, fans will hear from “a range of different voices from the world of motorsport throughout the season.”

Formula E driver Sam Bird, who races for Jaguar TCS Racing, will join Nicholls for the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, while two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will work on a “number of races”, including Saudi Arabia on March 27th.

Jack Aitken and Marc Priestley will also feature this season as part of 5 Live’s commentary offering.

Joining 5 Live out in Bahrain this weekend for the season opener are Radio 1, in the form of BBC Newsbeat, who have increased their F1 coverage in recent years, with Christian Hewgill presenting the programme from Bahrain.

IMG will continue to produce to produce the BBC’s 5 Live Formula 1 offering, including the popular Chequered Flag podcast.

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Over 4 million viewers tune into Drive to Survive’s opening weekend

The fourth season of Formula 1’s Drive to Survive kicked off with over 4 million viewers watching across its opening weekend, audience data from Netflix reveals.

Since launch, Netflix audience data has been unavailable for the general public to analyse.

That changed last Summer, when the corporation opted to release weekly data, showing how well their top 10 shows perform week-on-week.

What the data shows for Drive to Survive

Netflix releases weekly data each Tuesday, with the data release on March 15th covering the week ending March 13th, encompassing the first three days of Drive to Survive season 4.

The audience figures show that fans consumed 28.01 million hours of Drive to Survive during the opening weekend, equating to an average of 4.14 million viewers worldwide so far.

In comparison, season 5 of The Last Kingdom, which premiered two days earlier than Drive to Survive, was consumed for 63.54 million hours, equating to an average of 6.97 million viewers so far.

Caution needs to be taken when analysing the data, as the raw average for every series will be higher than reported in the data release. The data released by Netflix does not account for the fact that multiple people will be watching the series around one ‘viewing’ or TV set at the same time.

At most, this will likely push the Drive to Survive average closer to 5 or 5.5 million viewers for the opening weekend.

Drive to Survive: Season 4 – week ending March 13th, 2022
28.01 million hours consumed…
…which is the same as 1.6806 billion minutes…
…divided by 406 minutes
…results in an average of 4.14 million viewers per minute

Netflix data analysed by Motorsport Broadcasting

Nevertheless, for the first time, we have a true indication of how many people are viewing Drive to Survive on Netflix. These figures will only increase as the weeks progress.

To put the Netflix data into wider context, data from F1 shows that around 70 million viewers on averaged watched each Grand Prix in 2021.

It is difficult to conclude whether these figures are good or bad given that we have no historical reference points to compare against.

Drive to Survive popular in non-F1 territories, but fails to make US top 10

The data for the opening weekend, shows that Drive to Survive was the most watched show in Norway.

The impact of Max Verstappen is clear in the data so far, with the opening weekend being the 2nd most watched show in both Belgium and the Netherlands.

Drive to Survive was also the 2nd most watched show in non-F1 territories, such as the Czech Republic, Ireland and South Africa.

The series, which made its debut in 2019, also made the top 10 for the week in key F1 territories, including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and Italy.

Surprisingly, the series failed to make the top 10 in the US, where it is suggested that Drive to Survive has had a big impact on the championship’s stature increasing stateside.

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