After a chaotic opener, Formula 1 remains in Austria for a second weekend, Austria’s Red Bull Ring playing host to the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix.
Although the on-track scheduling mirrors that seen in the first weekend, there are several amendments on the UK scheduling front.
After a shorter build-up for Austria, Sky have reverted back to their 2019 lengths starting this weekend, with a 60-minute build-up to qualifying, and a 100-minute build-up to the race itself.
The BBC’s radio coverage of the Styrian round will largely air on the website only, due to a clash with England’s cricket test match series against the West Indies, which kicks off on Wednesday.
One addition to the schedule is F1’s in-house programme the Midweek Debrief, which again airs on Wednesday evenings following each Grand Prix.
On the Formula Two front Matt Gallagher, of WTF1 and Esports fame, joins lead commentator Alex Jacques in the Biggin Hill commentary booth.
Meanwhile, the IndyCar Series heads to Road America in Wisconsin for a double-header weekend. The first race airs live as usual on Sky Sports F1, however the second race is currently set to air on a 30-minute tape-delay to avoid overlap with the conclusion of the F1.
Channel 4 F1
11/07 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
12/07 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights
Sky Sports F1 Sessions
10/07 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
10/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
11/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
11/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook
08/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief: Austria
10/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
15/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief: Styria
BBC Radio F1 All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
10/07 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/07 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Formula Two – Styria (Sky Sports F1)
10/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
10/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
11/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
12/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2
Formula Three – Styria (Sky Sports F1)
10/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
10/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
11/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
12/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2
IndyCar Series – Road America (Sky Sports F1)
11/07 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Qualifying (tape-delay)
11/07 – 22:00 to 00:30 – Race 1
12/07 – 17:30 to 20:30 – Race 2 (tape-delay)
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
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 onBBC’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.
After a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, motor racing is back! Over the next few weeks, the schedules will begin to fill back up with live motor racing action taking place from across the globe.
Kicking us back into action are two stateside championships: MotoAmerica and the IndyCar Series. MotoAmerica is the American equivalent of the British Superbikes championship, with ten race weekends featuring on the revised 2020 calendar.
This weekend’s MotoAmerica race (30th and 31st May) is the first of two stops for the series at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with both races airing live on Eurosport for UK viewers.
One week later, the IndyCar Series begins its 2020 tour at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday 6th June. For the first time ever, in addition to qualifying and the race, practice also airs live for UK fans on Sky Sports F1.
Elsewhere, there is a plethora of new programming on Sky Sports F1 and BT Sport, whilst there is plenty of Esports action also on offer. RaceFans has a complete list of the Esports events taking place this weekend.
Of interest also to UK readers is the fact that Formula E documentary film ‘And We Go Green‘ premieres on Channel 4 on Tuesday 2nd June at 00:05 (Wednesday morning).
IndyCar Series – Texas (Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix)
06/06 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Practice
06/06 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying
06/06 (Saturday night) – 00:30 to 04:00 – Race (Main Event and Mix from 01:00)
MotoAmerica – Road America (Eurosport)
30/05 – 20:00 to 22:00 – Day 1
31/05 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Day 2
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…
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).
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.
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?
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.
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…
In the coronavirus-free round-up, Formula 1 jumps ahead of MotoGP in the Instagram stakes, whilst the BBC have increased their motor sport portfolio with the acquisition of another electric series.
Where possible, Motorsport Broadcasting endeavours to link directly to the original source instead of linking to a third-party site that may have misinterpreted the original headline.
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.
All of the round-ups to date can be found here, and as always, all feedback on the site, positive and negative, is more than welcome.
Formula 1 – contractual arrangements
Austria – Red Bull broadcaster Servus TV is looking to snatch television rights off ORF when the latter’s contract with F1 expires at the end of 2020, according to an article on the Osterreich website.
Osterreich expects an announcement following this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Canada – F1 will continue to air on TSN and RDS after the parties agreed a new deal until the end of the 2024 season.
As part of the new deal, fans can access additional feeds via the TSN and RDS app. F1 says that last year was the most-watched season ever on TSN, which coverage reaching “nearly 5.3 million Canadian viewers” across the two networks.
It should be noted that Canadian fans can also watch F1 live through F1’s over-the-top service F1 TV Pro.
Portugal – Eleven Sports has created an annual pass to allow motor sport fans to watch all of their motor sport content, as well as other sports.
The pass covers Formula 1, their feeder championships Formula Two and Formula Three, as well as the Porsche Supercup and TCR touring car series.
The pass costs Portuguese fans just €49.99 across the year, or €4.17 per month. In UK pounds, that works out at £43.79 across the year, or £3.65 per month.
USA – Mothers Polish will continue to sponsor ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 until the end of 2022, meaning that American viewers can continue to enjoy F1 without commercial breaks.
As in 2018 and 2019, ESPN will take Sky Sports F1’s UK offering this season, extended in length on race day because of Sky’s own scheduling changes for UK fans.
Formula 1 – other news
Over on social media, Formula 1 is now the most popular series on Instagram in terms of the number of followers, overtaking MotoGP towards the end of February. F1 now has 9.00 million followers, whilst the bike series has 8.90 million followers.
Channel 4’s F1 presenter Steve Jones won the award for Sports Presenter of the Year.
F1 commentator Alex Jacques received the Silver Award for the Broadcast Ones to Watch (on-air).
Former presenter of ITV’s F1 coverage Jim Rosenthal received the Doug Gardner Award for Services to Sports Journalism and the SJA. Writing on Twitter, Rosenthal said he “never saw it coming,” and that he was “blown away by the reaction.”
F1 are relaunching their official F1 magazine after a 16-year hiatus. The first iteration of the magazine closed in 2004, but is now being relaunched by owners Liberty Media, with ex-associate editor of F1 Racing magazine James Roberts at the helm.
The magazine brings together a range of motor racing correspondents including Rebecca Clancy (The Times) and Giles Richards (The Guardian), as well as Oliver Owen (previously The Observer).
The magazine aims to offer “unrivalled access to the heroes of the sport, with in-depth interviews, exclusives, strong opinion and intelligent summaries.”
An interesting sub-plot to this is that Lifestyle Media House Limited are publishers of the new magazine. Lifestyle Media were originally meant to be purchasing F1 Racing magazine off Motorsport Network. That deal fell through, and coincidentally, Motorsport Network have since renamed F1 Racing magazine to GP Racing. Read into that what you will…
Alex Brundle is to join Alex Jacques in the Formula Two commentary box for five weekends this season, he has announced.
Writing on his Twitter, Brundle says he will partner Jacques for the Bahrain, Dutch, Belgium, Russian and Abu Dhabi rounds this year.
The BBC is to air live coverage of the new Extreme E series in a “multi-year deal.” The series, which begins in January 2021 sees all-electric SUV cars compete in remote locations around the world.
Ali Russell, Extreme E’s chief marketing officer, said: “The UK has an insatiable appetite for world-class motor racing and a groundswell of backing for sustainable technologies – particularly pertinent given the government’s plans to bring forward the transition to fully-electric motoring to 2035.”
James Hinchcliffe is to join NBC’s on-air team for their coverage of the IndyCar Series this year. Hinchcliffe will commentate on ten races this season, the first of which is this weekend in St Petersburg.
A new look and feel greeted MotoGP fans over the Qatar Grand Prix weekend, with a new graphics set.
Keep an eye on Motorsport Broadcasting over forthcoming weeks for in-depth analysis on the new package.
Also on the MotoGP front, the series has teamed up with Facebook, bringing exclusive content to the social media platform. MotoGP says that there will be “original and exclusive” content available on Facebook Watch, and will be between “three and seven minutes in length.”
The recent series of Top Gear featured an excellent 20-minute segment celebrating 25 years since Colin McRae won the World Rally Championship in his Subaru Impreza 555.
The segment is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here until March 2021.