Scheduling: The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix

It will be odd, it will be strange, and it will be weird. But when the lights go out, nothing will sound better than twenty Formula 1 cars blasting their way around a Grand Prix circuit.

After a three-month hiatus, and seven months since the 2019 season ended, F1 is back with the start of the 2020 season, beginning with a double header in Austria.

Sky Sports are the only UK broadcaster presenting their coverage on-site. Simon Lazenby continues to steer the ship, alongside the likes of Ted Kravitz, David Croft and Martin Brundle out in Austria.

Due to COVID-19, Sky’s original plans from a scheduling perspective for 2020 have gone out the window. Both Paddock Walkabout and The F1 Show are missing from Sky’s Saturday schedule, whilst their qualifying and race build-ups have halved.

Current schedules show that Sky intends to have a 30-minute build-up to qualifying, with a 70-minute build-up to the race itself, reminiscent of ITV’s F1 offering in the early 2000s, albeit in very different circumstances.

Sky originally intended to extend their race build-up to 130-minutes for 2020, which appears to no longer be happening, for the early phase of the season at least. The qualifying programme is shorter, as Sky are airing a live Diversity in Motor Sport special in what would normally be the first 30-minutes of their qualifying show.

Given that the social distancing guidelines limit what you can do, it is not exactly surprising that Sky have had to review their programming and go back to basics – including no grid walk for the foreseeable future.

This site can reveal that both Channel 4 and the BBC are remaining in the UK for the opening rounds. Jack Nicholls and Jolyon Palmer form the BBC’s 5 Live commentary team for 2020, with Jennie Gow and Andrew Benson joining them.

Meanwhile, Steve Jones heads into a fifth season as Channel 4’s Formula 1 presenter, joined in their UK studio setting by David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Ben Edwards.

As revealed prior to Australia, Channel 4 are airing more of the race this year than in 2019, with around 60-minutes of the race airing in their edit, compared to 45-minutes last year.

Elsewhere, Sky are airing the Formula Two documentary series Chasing the Dream in the run-up to Austria. For those who do not have F1 TV, this is well worth a watch, the series following the leading contenders during the 2019 season.

Channel 4 F1
04/07 – 18:45 to 20:15 – Qualifying Highlights
05/07 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
03/07 – 09:30 to 11:50 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
03/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
04/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
04/07 – 13:30 to 15:30 – Qualifying
05/07 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Race
=> 13:00 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
29/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (1/5)
30/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (2/5)
01/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (3/5)
02/07 – 19:30 to 21:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference
02/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (4/5)
03/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
03/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (5/5)
04/07 – 13:00 to 13:30 – Diversity in Motor Sport

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
03/07 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
04/07 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
04/07 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05/07 – 13:55 to 16:15 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Formula Two – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
03/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
04/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
05/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
03/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
04/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
05/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 21:30 to 23:00 – Qualifying
04/07 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
05/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Keep an eye on this article over the forthcoming week, as broadcasters evolve their plans of the new F1 season.

Updated on June 30th to add details about Sky’s Diversity in Motor Sport special.

Update on July 2nd at 18:05 – As reported by Jonathan Noble over at Motorsport.com, the Drivers’ Press Conference format is radically different – and heavily extended.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place resulting in no media scrums, drivers are being interviewed team-by-team in a secure room. Anyone who has followed the tweets this afternoon from journalists will know it has been a drawn out process, hence Sky opting beforehand to air a 90-minute version later tonight.


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Revealed: Motorsport Broadcasting’s dream F1 presentation team

Over the past 50 years, many voices have graced the small screen to broadcast Formula 1 to the masses in a wide range of territories: from the UK to the US, from free-to-air to pay TV and beyond.

But how many would make Motorsport Broadcasting’s on-air team, and why? To answer that question is incredibly difficult, when trying to account for the different eras, the different broadcasters, the age of the talent in question, and so on.

The fan that ITV was trying to attract in the late 1990s may be different to the fan Sky is currently trying to attract to their offering.

As part of the selection process, I am assuming that age is not a factor, that time has no bounds, alive or deceased.

The cast assembled in my opinion brings together the best of the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky Sports into a super team, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Think of it as my version of the Avengers, for use of a better term!

Of course, this is all judgemental (I admit to being openly biased for the next 2,000 words) and that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The line-up comprises of:

  • 2 x presenters
  • 3 x analysts
  • 2 x pit lane reporters
  • 2 x technical reporters
  • 2 x commentators

So, who is in, and who is out? Revealed, Motorsport Broadcasting’s dream F1 presentation team…

Presenters
Every good on-air presentation team needs a presenter to fit the bill. For me, watching Formula 1, there are two presenters that brought warmth with them whenever presenting the sport.

First up, the BBC’s Formula 1 presenter from 2009 to 2012, Jake Humphrey. Humphrey worked his way through the BBC ranks, from children’s television into BBC Sport, and eventually onto BBC F1 for the start of F1’s return to the Beeb in 2009.

Humphrey’s style was a departure from his predecessors Jim Rosenthal and Steve Rider on ITV. Both Rosenthal and Rider are excellent, top-tier presenters, but Humphrey brought with him an additional element. During that period, it felt like Humphrey was one of us: a fan who happened to be living the dream as F1 presenter.

In my view, Humphrey helped bring us closer to the sport that we love, thanks to his presenting style, bouncing off his co-presenters where necessary.

Alongside Humphrey anchoring the show is Georgie Ainslee (nee. Thompson). Ainslee has been round the motoring circles for years, having been part of Sky’s A1 Grand Prix coverage in the mid-2000s.

2012 Australian GP - Sky Pad.png
Georgie Thompson and Anthony Davidson analyse the action on the Sky Pad, during Sky’s inaugural race weekend in 2012.

Ainslee was part of Sky’s F1 coverage in 2012, presenting elements of their programming including The F1 Show, but quietly left prior to the 2013 season, with reports at the time suggesting that she wanted a bigger role within the team.

One presenter anchoring the entire weekend is too much, so having two presenters in equal capacity feels the best way to handle the situation.

Back in 2012, I really enjoyed Ainslee’s Sky Pad contributions with Anthony Davidson, and it is unfortunate that she left in the manner that she did, considering she was one of the better parts of Sky’s offering in their inaugural season.

Analysts
This is where the choices get tough, given that there is a plethora of personalities to choose from spanning across the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, and ITV. Narrowing the choices down to three or four stars, past and present, is an extremely difficult challenge. But hey, we did say that this is a dream team.

All three of my choices are natural broadcasters, and all three were part of Sky’s Formula 1 line-up last season. We start with Martin Brundle, 2020 marking his 24th season on the microphone in the commentary box.

Brundle could double up as a third co-commentator, although this piece for brevity keeps Brundle primarily in an analytical role. Alongside Brundle are Sky colleagues Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button, both of whom have shown why they are worthy of being in a dream team in recent years.

Davidson’s broadcasting life started in 2008 alongside David Croft in the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary box, moving over to Sky for the start of their coverage in 2012.

Button joined Sky for five races last year. The thing that lets Sky down is that both Davidson and Button appear on-screen too infrequently across the season, but that is a wider issue surrounding the number of races as opposed to a Sky-specific problem.

On the Sky Pad, Davidson is a wizard, whilst Button has the same characteristics as Humphrey from a broadcasting perspective: a warm style, and a down to earth personality.

If you are looking for entertaining features, maybe this is not the trio for you, it really depends what you are after from a programming perspective.

2019 W Series - Ted Kravitz.jpg
Ted Kravitz dissects the W Series action during his Notebook segment.

For me, I want analysts who live and breathe F1, who know it like the back of their hand, and can articulate their knowledge back to the viewer at home in a digestible manner. Brundle, Button and Davidson tick those boxes for me.

Missing out by small margins are Mark Webber, Karun Chandhok and Allan McNish. On a different year in history, the choice may be different.

Also, it is worth bearing in mind that I am looking at this from a UK broadcasting perspective, so opinions may vary depending on where you are based.

Pitlane
Roving the pit lane are two faces, one of whom has never appeared in an official F1 capacity for a UK broadcaster, either through choice or because they overlooked him at every opportunity.

Enter Will Buxton. Currently Formula 1’s digital presenter, Buxton first made a name on the F1 broadcasting scene as GP2 and GP3 lead commentator. More recently, fans stateside heard Buxton’s voice during both Speed’s and NBC’s coverage of the sport from 2010 to 2017.

Despite being around the sport for nearly twenty years, Buxton has never worked in an F1 capacity for Sky, Channel 4, the BBC or ITV at their respective times. UK’s loss was America’s gain over the past decade.

During NBC’s coverage, Buxton and producer Jason Swales hosted several behind the scenes documentaries on the sport, including the ‘Road to…’ series, which was well received by fans.

Joining Buxton is Channel 4’s Lee McKenzie, who has been part of the UK’s free-to-air F1 output since 2009, grilling the drivers on a variety of topics.

Outside of the small screen, both McKenzie and Buxton are brilliant journalists in their own right, both with a unique ability to get the best out of their interviewee on any given occasion: whether in a pre-race vignette, or during the post-race media pen interviews.

You might think two reporters in pit lane and beyond is excessive. But remember, F1 consists of ten teams, 20 drivers, and hundreds of people that help bring the show to life. It is Buxton and McKenzie that get beneath the skin of the sport, helping to tell the stories that may otherwise go unnoticed.

NBC's Road to Mercedes.png
Will Buxton and Jason Swales at Reims for the Road to Mercedes documentary.

Technical
On the technical side, Ted Kravitz leads the output, having been part of the broadcasting scene since the 1990s. Kravitz moved to ITV’s F1 on-air team in a full-time capacity following Murray Walker’s retirement, staying in that role until 2008.

Kravitz moved with F1 to the BBC in 2009, and then again to Sky in 2012, where he has remained ever since, narrowly avoiding the chop from their team prior to the 2019 season. Well-liked by fans, Kravitz’s Notebook has been a fixture of Sky’s F1 coverage since its inception, along with the Development Corner segment.

What Kravitz has never had though, is a good wing man in the technical space, someone to bounce off from time to time. And that is where the second technical expert comes in the form of Craig Scarborough.

With the resources that he has, Scarborough does a great job dissecting the technical innovations across social media, sometimes with Peter Windsor in toe. Both were dropped by Motorsport Network in the latter half of 2018 as part of their cost-cutting exercise at the time.

I suspect no UK broadcaster has ever picked Scarborough up because he has never worked with in an F1 team as technical expert, unlike the likes of Gary Anderson, who was part of the BBC’s F1 offering in 2013 and 2014 before they dropped him.

Nevertheless, if you want an all rounded team that covers both the human element and technical element in equal detail, then you need two technical experts, and Kravitz and Scarborough are the two for me.

Commentators
The beauty of having a broadcasting dream team is that there is no right, or wrong, answer. I started watching Formula 1 in 1999, so caught the later years of Murray Walker‘s commentary.

I met Walker twice: once at a book signing back in 2002, and more recently at Channel 4’s Formula 1 launch in 2016. And, thanks to the internet, many classic races feature his commentary.

  • “And it’s Go! Go! Go!”
  • “Three point three six seconds! Damon Hill wins the Japanese Grand Prix!”
  • “And he exits the final corner for the fifty-third and last time, to win the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix, and the World Championship, for the third time!”

Commentary lines such as these will live on in Formula 1’s history. And it is for that reason that Murray, and his Murray-isms, feature in my dream team. Yes, Walker made mistakes.

1997 Australian GP - Qualifying.png
Martin Brundle and Murray Walker on the balcony during ITV’s coverage of the 1997 Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.

But, if I had a choice between a commentator that could make paint dry sound exciting, with a few mistakes here and there, or someone who struggled to capture the excitement that F1 brings, it is the former all day long.

To put it simply, Walker’s voice is infectious, and we are lucky that he stayed in the commentary box for as long as he did. Walker will always be F1 to me, and for a whole generation of fans in their late 20s and onwards.

On the other side, one of Walker’s colleagues left this arena far earlier than they should have. James Hunt passed away at the age of 45 in 1993, days after commentating on the Canadian Grand Prix. Had Hunt opted to retire at the same age as Walker, Hunt would still be commentating on F1 today at the age of 72.

I was too young to watch Hunt’s commentary live – I had not even turned one when Hunt passed away. But what I do know is that Hunt in the commentary box was passionate about the racing that was unfolding in front of him, telling it how it was.

It is a testament to the relationship between Hunt and Walker that the pairing lasted 13 years, from 1979 until Hunt’s untimely death.

In a parallel universe, Hunt would have been commentating alongside Walker for many years to come, but alas, it was not too be. In a dream broadcasting line-up, both Hunt and Brundle would be part of that team (clearly, I am bending the rules in the name of fun).

If time had no bounds, this is Motorsport Broadcasting’s dream F1 presentation team:

  • Presenter: Georgie Ainslee
  • Presenter: Jake Humphrey
  • Commentator: James Hunt
  • Commentator: Murray Walker
  • Analyst: Anthony Davidson
  • Analyst: Jenson Button
  • Analyst: Martin Brundle
  • Pitlane: Lee McKenzie
  • Pitlane: Will Buxton
  • Technical: Craig Scarborough
  • Technical: Ted Kravitz

Like with any team, whether the eleven would blend together on-screen is a different question, in the same way that two world class drivers in the best team may go pear shaped.

You want a line-up that is flexible. You do not want a commentator that just commentates, or a technical expert that cannot interview drivers. In the scenario above, Walker would still interview drivers, and Brundle could still commentate, for sake of argument.

Notable by their omission are David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, amongst other high calibre candidates, which shows how difficult it is to select a dream team cutting across different eras. Had I been focusing on current generation only, then Coulthard and Jordan may well have made the cut.

To bring gravitas to the production is Channel 4’s F1 producer Whisper, but with backing from Sky Sports. Sky bring with them the Sky Pad, the paddock stage set up, as well as the extensive air-time, whilst Whisper bring with them some excellent VTs and a graphics package that is second to none. The best of both worlds, in my view.

And that is my dream Formula 1 broadcasting line-up. What is yours? Have your say and debate the question in the comments below.

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Analysing the motor sport ecosystem and why coronavirus could cripple it

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting motor sport in a way we have never seen before, impacting everyone involved in sport.

Collectively, the entire industry stands to lose a significant sum of money, and what the future holds is unclear. The longer this goes on, the worse the financial situation becomes, notwithstanding the fact that a global recession is likely because of the pandemic.

Who are the key players, and what are their role in the overarching ecosystem that is motor sport? Being a broadcasting site, naturally the focus is on broadcasting, although there is heavy linkage between broadcasting and the wider motor sport economy.

Speaking at the Black Book Motorsport Forum last September, Sky’s Head of Formula 1 Scott Young spoke about the delicacies of the ecosystem in a conversation around over-the-top broadcasting and pay television.

“Our investment is significant as one of the one of the investments that underpins F1, as all our rights do in every sport,” explained Young.

“I think that’s one of the differences between an OTT platform right now and major sporting broadcasters, like Sky and Eurosport, that actually invest a large amount of money that goes into those sports of which they need to help fund the teams to compete.”

“There’s an ecosystem in there that is quite delicate, and if you unravel it too quickly it can have some lasting effects,” he said.

Young quite clearly encapsulates the key themes of the ecosystem: the broadcasters, the rights holder, and the teams. If the system changes too quickly, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Coronavirus creates a gap in the chamber. The flow of money into the sport stops, meaning that money cannot flow back out the other end easily.

Who are the parties involved, and what are their roles? Let the below diagram explain, using Formula 1 and MotoGP as the key examples…

Motor sport ecosystem.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem.

Much of the above is stating the obvious, however it shows how the ecosystem joins up from one segment to another, from the customer paying the pay TV broadcaster their monthly subscription, all the way through to teams paying their staff.

The diagram is, I admit, a simplistic view of the landscape, but hopefully helps to show how some of the basic activities connect. There are many more inputs and outputs, the diagram only covers the main ones (although if you feel there is a major gap, please shout).

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 1).

Branch 1 – Pay TV > Commercial Rights Holder
Pay-TV broadcasters receive income from both their customers monthly, as well as from advertisers / sponsors who want to advertise during their programming. Not all motor sports air on pay-TV, but overall, that is the way.

Some have suggested that UK’s pay-TV broadcasters BT and Sky should refund subscribers of their sports channels during the coronavirus outbreak, however neither are planning to do so currently.

The income pay-TV broadcasters receive allows them to broadcast prestigious events, the broadcaster paying the relevant Commercial Rights Holder an agreed amount each season.

For MotoGP, the Commercial Rights Holder is Dorna, for F1 it is Formula One Management, for World Rally Championship it is WRC Promoter, and so on.

To attract subscribers, pay-TV broadcasters want to utilise the best talent, on and off-screen. For that, they use a hybrid of permanent in-house staff and freelancers.

Both bring their benefits: being a permanent member of staff gives you added security with a regular pay packet, but makes it unlikely that you can work on events not aired on their outlet.

Freelancers on the other hand may work F1 one weekend, MotoGP the next, and then Formula E the weekend after, each paid on a standalone basis. Three different broadcasters and production teams, but not a problem. That approach brings risks: any cancellation will result in a loss of income.

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 2).

Branch 2 – Circuit > Commercial Rights Holder
The second area is simpler. Fans pay money to attend the circuit to watch a race, the circuit pays the Commercial Rights Holder the fee for holding the race. Investors and sponsors may pump money into the circuit to improve facilities, increasing the prospects of holding major events there.

It sounds simple, until someone cancels the race, which is where the legal complications come in. Mark Hughes over on The Race summarises the situation in relation to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

In the event of the cancellation of a race, someone will lose money. Opting not to refund the fans is an untenable option. The organisers refund the fans, in which case the organisers lose money. Unless the Commercial Rights Holder waives the fee and takes the financial hit.

The worst-case scenario for a circuit is that they lose so much money, they go into administration and liquidation.

Circuits need money to keep operating outside of the F1 and MotoGP race weekends, they need to pay their own employees (not labelled in the diagram) to give one example. In the UK, the Rockingham Motor Speedway closed in 2018 after financial issues.

Cancelling one race might be okay, but would be enough to disturb the cashflow of the circuit. What happens though, if the Commercial Rights Holder opted to take the hit, saving the circuit, but putting themselves at jeopardy?

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 3).

Branch 3 – Commercial Right Holder > Staff
Like the pay-TV scenario above, the Commercial Rights Holder will pay people to run the World Feed for them all the weekend, both freelancers and permanent staff. The talent varies: from directors, to vision mixers, to replay operators, to camera operators, the list is never ending.

F1 has a mixture of freelance talent and permanent talent, same as above. Same positives, same negatives, same risks.

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 4).

Branch 4 – Commercial Rights Holder > Teams
As well as receiving money off pay-TV broadcasters and circuits, the Commercial Rights Holder will receive money off advertisers, sponsors and investors, the Rolex’s of this world.

Pay-TV broadcasters may want compensation off the Commercial Rights Holder if races fall by the wayside, and the same applies for advertisers, whilst circuits may want their fees lowered.

If organisers cancel one race, most championships would be able to deal with it, however when multiple races disappear, the problem amplifies.

For hypothetical sake, assume the Commercial Rights Holder has buckled in the event of cancellation. They have waived the circuit race fee and given both advertisers and pay-TV companies some compensation. Unlikely, but let us continue the worst-case path.

But, hang on. The Commercial Rights Holder needs to the pay the teams their prize money, right? Well, yes. Oh. But, the Commercial Rights Holder has already lost money? Again, yes.

“Okay then, we will not give teams their prize money.” Good luck with that one.

Teams need to pay their permanent staff and freelancers, as well as suppliers, and need some form of income from both the Commercial Rights Holder and sponsors.

Suppliers are important here. Motor sport relies on thousands of small to medium-sized employers worldwide that rarely gets a mention. If any one of those suppliers go under, that could impact the team’s ability to go racing. Suddenly, we have a major problem…

The likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Repsol Honda, will survive with minimal disruption. The likes of Williams in F1, and many outfits in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, all the way down the motor sport pyramid I worry about.

I worry about the freelancers, inside and outside of broadcasting, who are out of work for at least the next month. I worry about championships who struggle to make a profit each year.

I appreciate this is a simplistic view of the world, and does not account for all factors (there are many indirect lines excluded).

The point I am getting at though is that the motor sport ecosystem will be seriously tested over the next few months, and the potential longer-term consequences for this sport do not bear thinking about…


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Scheduling: The 2020 Australian Grand Prix

Update – both F1 and IndyCar have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

An air of uncertainty surrounds motor sport as the Formula 1 paddock beckons on Melbourne, Australia for the start of the 2020 Grand Prix season.

As I write this article, the Australian Grand Prix is still set to take place on Sunday 15th March. However, the coronavirus outbreak means that nothing is certain, and that the details in this article are accurate as of right now, but could change rapidly in the days ahead.

On the broadcasting side, very little has changed in terms of personnel over the winter break, a stark contrast to twelve months ago.

Simon Lazenby continues to lead Sky’s coverage of Formula 1 in Melbourne, alongside the likes of Paul di Resta, Martin Brundle, Jenson Button, Karun Chandhok and David Croft.

Ted Kravitz remains with Sky for 2020, in what Motorsport Broadcasting understands will be a similar arrangement to 2019, with Kravitz part of Sky’s output for most of the 22 races this year.

Meanwhile, Steve Jones continues to steer Channel 4’s ship, with David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Ben Edwards again alongside the Welshman. Over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Jack Nicholls, Jolyon Palmer and Jennie Gow preside over events from Melbourne.

As reported earlier, close sources have indicated to this site that Sky will be presenting their output from Melbourne on-site, however the situation for Channel 4 and BBC is unclear.

On the scheduling front, Sky’s build-up for the 22 races extends to 130 minutes this season, which must be some kind of record. The change means that their live race day shows clock in at five and a half hours when also accounting for the Notebook.

There are other smaller changes to Sky’s schedule, namely Welcome to the Weekend moving from Thursday’s to Friday’s immediately before the first practice session.

Channel 4’s highlights programming also changes for 2020, moving back towards its previous ‘Extended Highlights’ format, as revealed exclusively by this site in January.

The free-to-air broadcaster can now air 60 minutes of the race itself, instead of 45 minutes as was the case last year.

Elsewhere, the IndyCar Series is back for its second season on Sky Sports F1, whilst the World Rally Championship heads to Mexico for round three of 2020.

Channel 4 F1
14/03 – 12:00 to 13:30 – Qualifying Highlights
15/03 – 14:10 to 16:40 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
13/03 – 00:30 to 02:45 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 00:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 01:00 – Practice 1
13/03 – 04:45 to 06:45 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
14/03 – 02:45 to 04:30 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 02:45 – Practice 3
=> 04:10 – Paddock Walkabout
14/03 – 05:00 to 07:30 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 05:00 – Pre–Show
=> 05:55 – Qualifying
15/03 – 03:00 to 08:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 03:00 – Sunday Social
=> 04:00 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky One)
=> 05:05 – Race (also Sky One)
=> 07:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 08:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
12/03 – 05:00 to 05:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
13/03 – 07:30 to 08:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
14/03 – 07:30 to 08:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
18/03 – 20:00 to 20:30 – F1 Weekend Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
12/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
13/03 – 00:55 to 02:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/03 – 04:55 to 06:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/03 – 02:55 to 04:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/03 – 05:55 to 07:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/03 – 04:30 to 07:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

IndyCar Series – St. Petersburg (Sky Sports F1)
14/03 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying
15/03 – 18:30 to 22:00 – Race

World Rally Championship – Mexico (All Live)
Also airs live on WRC+ (£)
13/03 – 01:15 to 03:00 – Stages 1 and 2 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 02:08 – Stage 1
=> 02:31 – Stage 2
13/03 – 13:45 to 03:00 – Stages 3 to 12 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 15:08 – Stage 3
=> 16:16 – Stage 4
=> 17:14 – Stage 5
=> 18:12 – Stage 6
=> 21:35 – Stage 7
=> 22:43 – Stage 8
=> 23:41 – Stage 9
=> 01:21 – Stages 10 and 11
=> 02:14 – Stage 12
14/03 – 13:45 to 02:30 – Stages 13 to 21 (BT Sport Extra 1)
=> 14:58 – Stage 13
=> 16:01 – Stage 14
=> 17:08 – Stage 15
=> 20:56 – Stage 16
=> 21:59 – Stage 17
=> 23:08 – Stage 18
=> 00:38 – Stages 19 and 20
=> 01:26 – Stage 21
15/03 – 13:30 to 18:45 – Stages 22 to 24 (BT Sport Extra 2)
=> 14:38 – Stage 22
=> 15:56 – Stage 23
=> 17:18 – Stage 24

World Rally Championship – Mexico
13/03 (Thursday night) – 02:00 to 03:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport 2)
14/03 (Saturday morning) – 06:00 to 06:30 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
14/03 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Stage 15 (BT Sport 3)
15/03 (Saturday night) – 04:30 to 05:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
15/03 – 17:00 to 18:30 – Stage 24 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
16/03 (Sunday night) – 03:00 to 03:30 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
17/03 – 22:30 to 23:30 – Highlights (ITV4)

Of course, the listings above are subject to change, so keep an eye on both this site and the official championship social channels for the latest up to date information.


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News round-up: F2 documentary release date announced; UK Christmas scheduling details

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, news on when fans can get their hands on the new Formula Two documentary, whilst fans of the Formula One season review will be getting double the action in this year’s offering…

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

ICYMI: Round-Up #7 (November 3rd): F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

ICYMI: Round-Up #6 (October 15th): New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

ICYMI: Round-Up #5 (September 12th): Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

ICYMI: Round-Up #4 (July 23rd): New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

The round-up covers from the start of November onwards, so I have mentioned a few points retrospectively for completeness.

Note from Dave – This is the eighth and last round-up of 2019. As we head into 2020, I would be interested to know if you have found the round-ups interesting and informative this year. The point of the round-ups is to cover news snippets that I would not usually mention in a standalone piece.

It is impossible to mention every little detail, otherwise the round-up turns into a long and unwieldy list, which I want to avoid. If you have found these interesting and valuable, a quick comment underneath or over on the social channels would be much appreciated.

Formula 1

  • There are plenty of Christmas specials coming up to keep the pulse racing.
    • Sky Sports’ 60-minute review is already available to watch via Sky’s on demand service.
    • BBC’s 5 Live special premieres on Christmas Eve at 20:00, with a very special presenter. Steve Rider presides over the festivities as Claire Cottingham, Jack Nicholls, Alex Jacques, Andrew Benson, Jennie Gow and Jolyon Palmer take part in an F1 themed quiz.
    • Over on F1 TV Pro, there is a 45-minute special of the Weekend Debrief, aptly titled Season Debrief. UK fans can watch the special on Sky Sports F1 over the festive period.
    • Further afield, Sky aired highlights of the annual Autosport Awards earlier this month. The same 90-minute package can also be found on Autosport’s YouTube channel.
  • 2020 starts with the new Formula Two documentary series landing on F1 TV. As first revealed by Motorsport Broadcasting in July, the series focuses on the stars of tomorrow in a 5 x 25 minute series. Fans worldwide, including the UK, will be able to watch F2: Chasing the Dream from Thursday 2nd January.
  • Series 2 of Drive to Survive is complete from an editorial perspective. Writing on Twitter on Friday, producer Paul Martin noted that Friday was the “last night in the edit.” Box to Box Films or Netflix have yet to confirm a release date for the much-anticipated sequel.
  • The FIA has amended the 2020 Formula One Sporting Regulations to “prevent teams from covering their cars during winter testing, in order to make these events more appealing to the media and fans.”
    • Not only is this good news for fans attending the tests, but it is good news for fans worldwide, as testing airs live across F1 TV and Sky Sports F1 for the second year running.
  • The official 2019 Formula One Season Review will return to a four-hour format when it is released by Duke later this month, after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • The 2018 review was slimmer compared to previous years, and contained live commentary from Sky’s David Croft and Martin Brundle instead of a bespoke voiceover from Ben Edwards. Whilst the running length returns to the 2017 format, fans will continue to hear Sky’s commentary in the 2019 review.
  • 2019 champion Lewis Hamilton appeared on The Graham Norton Show last month following his championship victory in Austin. The episode, which aired on BBC One, is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until the early hours of Boxing Day.
  • An audience of 5.8 million viewers watched the 2019 F1 Esports Series online, according to figures released by Formula 1, surpassing the 5.5 million viewers that watched across online and television last year.
    • In addition, F1 says that 79 percent of all viewers were below 34 years old. “We are really excited about the progress we have made this year with a 65% increase in interest in the series compared to 2018, our highest ever online audience of 5.8 million and 169 million social media impressions,” said Julian Tan, F1’s Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports.
    • “The massive growth in viewership and engagement is testament to the strength of our esports proposition. I am confident that Formula 1 Esports will continue to grow and broaden the opportunities for the next generation of motorsport fans and brands to engage and invest in this burgeoning space as we continue to break down borders into our sport through esports and gaming – the growth in viewership and engagement this year is a prime indicator of this,” added Tan.
  • The annual Formula Three race from Macau aired live on Formula 1’s YouTube channel last month. For anyone who needs their motor sport fix over Christmas, the race remains on the channel over here.

Elsewhere…

  • The German touring car championship DTM has announced that they are to launch an over-the-top platform ready for the 2020 season. The platform launched in beta mode during last month’s special DTM cross-over event with Super GT.
  • The EV racing site e-racing365 has announced that it is to reduce its Formula E offering from January onwards, citing the current economic environment in the media landscape. e-racing365 has seen record growth, “with a 74 percent increase in unique viewers and a 54 percent increase in page views compared to 2018,” led by editor Sam Smith.
    • Writing on the site, founder John Dagys said “While our editorial coverage has been second-to-none, we’ve fought very hard the last two-and-a-half-years to make it economically viable. It takes significant resources to cover a defacto world championship and without the necessary financial support, we’re unfortunately unable to continue at this level. The motorsports media landscape has continued to change over the last few months and we stand by our principle of being one of the few remaining independent media outlets covering the sport we all love.”
    • “There are a number of exciting all-electric series in the pipeline that we feel will have the necessary interest and support for the site to continue to grow. We’re excited for those opportunities and look forward to helping share the story of the sport’s transition to electrification in the years to come,” Dagys added.
  • The American bike series MotoAmerica is touting record numbers for the 2019 season. The series says that their broadcast audience increased by 134 percent on 2018, largely thanks to a new broadcast relationship with NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 2 instead of beIN Sports. In addition, their social media accounts grew by 33 percent, with impressions up by 229 percent.

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


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