An average audience of 389,000 viewers watched the live action from Le Mans, across all three classes, an increase of 124% on the BT-only figure from Jerez.
When focussing only on the MotoGP class, an average of 238,000 viewers watched the race via BT Sport, compared with 236,000 viewers for Jerez.
ITV4’s figure for the MotoGP segment (from 12:35 to 14:15) is unknown, however we can draw some conclusions from publicly available data.
Motorsport Magazine reports that a one-minute overnight peak of 425,900 viewers watched the Le Mans race on ITV4, and live sport does not add additional viewers on within the seven-day consolidation window.
Thus, it is fair to conclude that ITV4’s coverage peaked with around 430,000 viewers, averaging around 300,000 viewers for the MotoGP segment itself, including pre-race build-up and immediate post-race analysis.
Motorsport Broadcasting’s analysis suggests that an average audience of 538,000 viewers watched the MotoGP race, an increase of 128% on the BT-only figure from Jerez.
But highlights slump shows that live viewers were not returning fans
While the surge in MotoGP’s live audience is excellent, and shows why MotoGP needs the live free-to-air presence, ITV4’s highlights audience slumped the day after the race.
According to industry website Thinkbox, which publishes BARB data on a rolling week-by-week basis, highlights of the Le Mans round on ITV4 averaged 91,000 viewers, the 40th most watched show on ITV4 that week.
In comparison, highlights from Jerez a fortnight earlier averaged 296,000 viewers, and was the 6th most watched show on ITV4.
Looking at the MotoGP segment in isolation, the audience figures in totality suggest that an average of around 628,000 viewers watched the MotoGP action for Le Mans, with between 550,000 viewers and 600,000 viewers doing the same for Jerez.
So, whilst the change between Jerez and Le Mans did result in more viewers watching MotoGP live, these viewers were not new (in most cases).
Instead, all that happened was that around 70% of ITV4’s regular highlights audience jumped ship to the ITV4 live show on Sunday.
How many viewers were new, or returning, is difficult to quantify, but Motorsport Broadcasting’s analysis suggests that this figure is below 100,000 viewers, which makes the figures in totality look less spectacular than first suggested.
The headline here is that more people watched MotoGP live, with MotoGP recording its highest live average since 2013, thanks to its free-to-air presence, but that these viewers were not ‘new’ in the wider context.
The deal to air two races live across ITV’s network was broken first on Motorsport Broadcasting, with other news outlets following suite. However, an official press release was only issued by MotoGP’s commercial rights holder Dorna two days before the race.
If Le Mans was going to break through and capture more viewers, organisers needed to announce the deal far earlier rather than it coming across as an eleventh-hour deal. The timing very much felt like all parties were testing the waters to see what the reaction would be.
If fans knew before the season that ITV4 were airing races live, it may have given some an extra incentive to keep in touch with the highlights package throughout the season rather than jumping in cold.
An unscientific poll over on this site’s Twitter page suggests that BT’s audience may see a small bump over the months ahead thanks to Le Mans airing live on free-to-air television.
MotoGP has another bite of the free-to-air cherry in August, as Silverstone airs live on ITV’s main channel, and thus has a much bigger chance at attracting a wider audience who would never normally watch the championship.
After almost 40 hours of practice and 7 days of on-track action, it comes down to this. Welcome, to the 2021 Indianapolis 500!
Scott Dixon is on pole for the race from the brickyard, can he convert pole to victory to win his second 500?
Joining Dixon on the front row are Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay, both young chargers looking to win their first Indianapolis 500.
There are five ex-Formula 1 drivers on the 2021 grid, led by Alexander Rossi in 10th place.
Indianapolis 500 – the coverage
Live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 airs exclusively on Sky Sports F1, with the broadcaster’s offering coming live from McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking.
Natalie Pinkham presents Sky’s broadcast, with Tom Gaymor and McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris joining her.
Sky’s coverage will serve as a wrap around to the main US offering, meaning that UK fans will not miss a second of NBC’s US coverage. Sky will build-up to the US coverage from 15:45, before handing over to NBC at 16:00.
From 16:00 onwards, UK fans will hear Sky’s line-up during the frequent US ad-breaks over the hours that follow.
Leigh Diffey leads the commentary line-up for the third year running, with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy joining Diffey.
Down in pit lane, Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Kevin Lee will keep fans abreast of developments as the race progresses.
Meanwhile, Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, and Steve Letarte will provide additional views from NBC’s on-site studio, whilst Rutledge Wood will be out around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Friday 28th May 16:00 to 18:00 – Carb Day
Sunday 30th May 15:45 to 21:00 – 105th Indianapolis 500 => race starts at 17:45
Full UK scheduling details for the 2021 Indianapolis 500. Scheduling details correct as of Monday 24th May and are subject to change.
Elsewhere, MotoGP heads to Mugello for round six of the 2021 season. Ducati’s Jack Miller will be looking to win three races in a row after winning a changeable French Grand Prix last time out.
MotoGP – the coverage
After airing live on ITV4 for Le Mans, coverage airs this weekend exclusively on BT Sport, with ITV returning to the frame later this year for the British Grand Prix.
For BT, the weekend marks a big milestone on the return to normality, as the broadcaster begins a phased return to the MotoGP paddock.
While BT’s main presentation and commentary will remain at the BT Tower for now, a small crew led by Natalie Quirk, will be present on-site interviewing the stars of the show. Joining Quirk on-site is 2014 World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli who will be part of the team for the remainder of the season.
ITV4’s highlights airs later than usual at 23:00 due to live coverage of French Open tennis.
Friday 28th May 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1 (BT Sport 2) => 08:00 – Moto3 => 08:55 – MotoGP => 09:55 – Moto2 12:15 to 15:00 – Practice 2 (BT Sport 2) => 12:15 – Moto3 => 13:10 – MotoGP => 14:10 – Moto2
Saturday 29th May 08:00 to 16:15 – Practice and Qualifying (BT Sport 2) => 08:00 – Moto3: Practice 3 => 08:55 – MotoGP: Practice 3 => 09:55 – Moto2: Practice 3 => 11:35 – Moto3: Qualifying => 12:30 – MotoGP: Practice 4 => 13:10 – MotoGP: Qualifying => 14:10 – Moto2: Qualifying => 15:15 – Red Bull Rookies Cup: Race 1
Sunday 30th May 07:30 to 14:30 – Races (BT Sport 2) => 07:30 – Warm Ups => 09:15 – Moto3: Race => 11:00 – Moto2: Race => 12:30 – MotoGP: Race => 14:00 – Chequered Flag 14:30 to 15:30 – Red Bull Rookies Cup: Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)
Monday 31st May 23:00 to 00:00 – Highlights (ITV4)
Full scheduling details for the 2021 Italian MotoGP. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 25th May and are subject to change.
It promises to be an exciting weekend of action on both two wheels and four wheels, with plenty to whet the appetite over the Bank Holiday for UK readers.
The voice of Formula 1, Murray Walker has died at the age of 97, the BRDC has confirmed.
Walker commentated on motor sport for decades, from his first Grand Prix race in 1949 all the way through until retiring from his Formula 1 commentary role at the end of 2001, for both the BBC and ITV.
In a statement, the BRDC said “It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE.”
“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nations favourite commentator and a contagious smile. Murray will be sadly missed; his mark and voice will live on in motorsport and our hearts forever.”
“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community.”
Writing on Twitter, Martin Brundle, who commentated with Walker full-time from 1997 to 2001 said “Rest in Peace Murray Walker. Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula One legend.”
Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle said “It is with great sadness that I have to inform Silverstone’s fans that Murray Walker died earlier today. He was to so many of us fans of F1, the voice that epitomised the sport we love.”
“Knowledgeable beyond words and with a passion that occasionally got the better of him in commentary, he brought the sport and some of its greatest moments to life in a way that ensured they remained seared in our memories for ever.”
“Much will be written about the impact that Murray had on the sport and we will make a more fulsome tribute in due course, but for the time being rest in peace Murray and thank you.”
A legend who has inspired generations
When people think of F1, past or present, they think of a handful of names. Senna. Schumacher. Fangio. Prost. Hamilton. Bernie. And Murray.
The first F1 race I watched was the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix. Two things got me addicted to F1 that year and into the 2000s: Michael Schumacher in the iconic Ferrari, with Murray Walker and Martin Brundle providing the sound track. Without Murray, I doubt this site would exist.
Although Walker did step aside at the 2001 US Grand Prix, the joys of the internet means that his commentary lives forever, and is easy to find on any F1 archive clip from the 1970s to the 1990s.
I cannot mention Walker without mentioning James Hunt, two opposites, but joined together in the commentary box discussing the one thing they loved most: motor sport.
During Walker’s tenure, F1’s popularity in the UK boomed, thanks in part to Nigel Mansell’s and Damon Hill’s on-track successes, but also due to Walker’s commentary, Walker communicating the intricates of the sport to the masses.
Lines such as “And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat!” are forever etched in F1 history, and will always will be.
I had the pleasure of meeting Murray twice. The first was at a signing for his ‘Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken’ book in late 2002. What I remember about the evening most was not the actual signing, but the long queue of hundreds of people, which stretched far outside the Waterstones.
From kids, like me, through to the grandparents, everyone wanted Murray to sign a copy of the book. And that was a sign of just how much people connected with Murray at home. Murray was special, and he brought our wonderful sport to life.
Fast forward 16 years, and to the second meeting of me and Murray, this time at Channel 4’s Formula 1 launch.
Murray was on stage with the rest of the Channel 4 team, before joining the rest of the team in roundtable discussions with media afterwards. Even at the age of 92, Murray was in fine form.
Sadly, there will not be a third meeting.
The motor racing paddock is filled with young talent: racers, mechanics, hospitality, and on the broadcasting side, producers, commentators, presenters and so on.
All of them have a connecting bond: they grew up listening to Murray’s infectious commentary. Without Murray, the motor racing paddock today would be a worse place. There will never be another Murray Walker.
Murray, you inspired generations, not one generation, but multiple. Legend is bandied around far too much, but you were a legend, and simply the best.
For the first time in 24 years, Formula 1 heads to Portugal for the Portuguese Grand Prix!
Instead of heading to Estoril, which hosted the last race there in 1996, the championship instead heads to the 2.9-mile circuit in the Algarve for its inaugural visit.
Live coverage of the race airs as usual on Sky Sports F1, the Grand Prix itself beginning at 13:10 UK time.
Later, the IndyCar Series concludes with the race that was meant to begin its COVID-19 disrupted year in St Petersburg. Scott Dixon looks set to clinch the crown, but Josef Newgarden is close in his mirror.
As if that was not enough, Sky are also airing live coverage of the Spa 24 Hours on Sky Sports F1! The majority of the 24 hours air live on the channel. I would expect the remainder to air live behind the Red Button, but this is unconfirmed as of writing.
With F1 and IndyCar, it means there is over 37 hours of live motor sport on Sky next weekend.
Elsewhere, the British Touring Car Championship starts earlier than usual on ITV4, as the nights draw in heading into the Winter months.
NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 25th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…
Channel 4 F1
24/10 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
25/10 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights
Sky Sports F1 Sessions
23/10 – 10:30 to 12:45 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 10:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 11:00 – Practice 1
23/10 – 14:45 to 16:45 – Practice 2
24/10 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
24/10 – 13:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
25/10 – 11:30 to 16:30 – Race
=> 11:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 13:05 – Race
=> 15:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 16:00 – Notebook
23/10 – 16:45 to 17:15 – The Story so Far
25/10 – 16:30 to 17:30 – Race to Perfection
28/10 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief
BBC Radio F1 All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
25/10 – 13:00 to 15:20 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
MotoGP – Teruel (BT Sport 2) Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
23/10 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
23/10 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
24/10 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
25/10 – 07:45 to 15:00
=> 07:45 – Warm Ups
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:30 – MotoGP
=> 13:15 – Moto2
=> 14:30 – Chequered Flag
On the eve of the Nürburgring’s return to the Formula One calendar, Motorsport Broadcasting has decided to be a little nostalgic, with a throwback to the 2000 European Grand Prix!
Funnily enough, many fans remember the events of the 1999 running of the Grand Prix far more than 2000, as Johnny Herbert climbed to victory in mixed weather from 14th on the grid. But, reviewing that race from a broadcasting perspective feels too obvious.
And, whilst the 2000 race may not have been thrilling in quite the same way, it for me is still a classic wet weather race in the Eifel mountains with twists and turns along the way.
Would McLaren be able to outsmart Ferrari, or would Michael Schumacher’s wet weather prowess show once again? Here we go…
Date: Sunday 21st May 2000
Time: 12:15 to 15:15
Presenter: Jim Rosenthal
Reporter: James Allen
Reporter: Louise Goodman
Commentator: Murray Walker
Commentator: Martin Brundle
Analyst: Tony Jardine
By this point in their coverage, ITV dedicated around 45 minutes of build-up to the European races, with another 30 minutes for analysis post-race. The build-up gradually expanded in length year-on-year, and before we know it, the commercial broadcaster was dedicating an hour of programming to build-up.
Following Simon Taylor’s departure from ITV’s Formula 1 line-up, the team opted to bring an additional guest into their studio for some of the build-up, an array which included the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, Bernie Ecclestone, and even Ant and Dec!
For Nürburgring, it was the turn of Mercedes’ Sporting Director Norbert Haug in the studio, Haug joining Jim Rosenthal and Tony Jardine.
The build-up for this race feels split in two: the first 20 minutes focusing heavily on the McLaren and Ferrari scrap, with the latter 20 minutes looking at some of the other stories making the F1 agenda.
In my view, the format works, and more importantly covers a lot of ground across the segments, meaning that the viewer feels well versed in the world of F1 by the time the lights go green.
Haug’s insights were not the most engaging however, but nevertheless helped bring additional context to the McLaren and Ferrari battle.
Following the usual qualifying round-up and summary, conversation moves onto the big incident from the previous round in Spain: a botched refuelling pit stop from Ferrari resulting in a broken ankle for Nigel Stepney.
The conversation provides the opener to an excellent segment from James Allen, who joined BAR during their pit stop practice to demonstrate the many roles and responsibilities during the pit stop sequence.
McLaren versus Ferrari remains the theme in the pit stop piece, with comment from McLaren’s Ron Dennis and Ferrari’s Ross Brawn. Next-up, on-board for a lap of the Nurburgring with Rubens Barrichello!
A thrills and spills VT showing Johnny Herbert’s spectacular victory from 1999 follows, with a segment on the other side of the ad-break taking us further into the world of F1 through Martin Brundle’s ‘Inside Track’ series.
Brundle’s piece for round six of 2000 looks at F1’s strict weight limits, well timed given that Prost’s Nick Heidfeld was thrown out of the weekend after qualifying for fielding an underweight car.
Attention turns further down the pecking order to two F1 struggles: Jaguar, and Jacques Villeneuve. Jaguar had yet to capitalise on Stewart’s strong 1999 season, the team the subject of Louise Goodman’s segment.
The thing I really like here is that the segment was not a ‘talk to camera’ segment, but rather an all-rounded segment that offered different perspective, with the opinions of technical director Gary Anderson and drivers Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert on show. The editors made clear the purpose of the segment from the outset, which made it even more engaging.
An interview segment between Brundle and Villeneuve followed. You really got the impression from these two segments that every second of the broadcast counts, there is no waffle, no glitziness to the output, but why should there be?
The piece touches on Villeneuve’s disappointment with his move to BAR, his relationship with Craig Pollak and whether he, in Brundle’s words, can “really walk away from a works Honda deal?”
Rosenthal and Jardine filled the gaps in between the VTs, but this was a segment heavy build-up, with Brundle’s famed grid walk not in sight, for this round at least. In ITV’s early days, the team did not overuse the grid walk, gradually bringing it in until it became a permanent fixture at most races from the mid-2000s onwards.
With the scene set at “a cool 10 degrees,” it is race time!
I have mentioned this before, but the 2000 grid is gorgeous, with the red Ferrari’s, green Jaguar’s, and yellow Jordan’s amongst the colours on offer.
Back in the early 2000s, F1’s television operation for most viewers was decentralised. ITV directed the British Grand Prix, Fuji Television would direct the Japanese Grand Prix, and here at the Nürburgring, it was German broadcaster RTL who controlled of the European round from Germany.
Off the line, Hakkinen stormed into the lead from third, swapping places with Coulthard, as Schumacher remained in second. The first of Murray Walker’s prophetic pe-race predictions came true, as Villeneuve in the BAR jumped up to fifth from ninth on the grid.
Only four drivers are on the harder compound Bridgestone tyre. They’ve got the super soft tyre here for the first time this year, and the soft tyre, which is actually the harder one here today, is being used by both the Ferrari drivers [Rubens] Barrichello and Michael Schumacher, by Jacques Villeneuve and by Jos Verstappen. And I certainly know in the case of the Ferrari’s that, as Martin has said, it’s because they just get a better balance on the car. They tend to go off after about ten laps, so Michael Schumacher will be looking to get ahead as soon as the race begins, and in order to do that, he’s got to pass David Coulthard. – Murray Walker talking tyres.
The local RTL director had a limited choice of exterior angles to play with for replays of the start, with no on-board angles during this sequence.
Remember that the local director was ‘competing’ against F1’s own digital operation during this era, meaning that on-board angles were rare for most viewers worldwide.
Shots from Heinz Harald Frentzen’s Jordan, Jean Alesi’s Prost and Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari were on offer throughout the mixed weather race, none of whom ever had a chance at victory (and Frentzen’s race lasted just a single lap).
Unsurprisingly, the director focussed firmly on Schumacher’s attempts to take the lead off Hakkinen, the German harassing the two-time champion lap after lap, meaning Walker ended up reciting the order every so often.
With rain threatening, a lot of chatter was about refuelling, with Brundle adequately explaining the rationale behind a heavier fuel load at race start.
The director did miss Benetton’s Giancarlo Fisichella overtaking Villeneuve live in the early phases, but under the circumstances, an understandable omission. Schumacher eventually dived down the inside of Hakkinen into the chicane he designed, as the forecast rain intensified.
At which point, the race kicked off in many different directions: Jos Verstappen, Marc Gene, and Pedro Diniz all lost it in the tricky conditions. Considering how patchy some of the television direction was back in the day, the German director on this day in history did fantastically well to catch the key bits.
Both Walker and Brundle through this race relied on the World Feed pictures and just one timing monitor, as the front runners carved their way back through those who had yet to switch to wet tyres.
The commentary felt very instinctive, but it also felt like they were living through the moment with us, which made it all the better. Walker described it as a “commentator’s nightmare,” Brundle called it a “commentator’s dream!”
Also inspired was ITV’s lop-sided ad-break structure for the Grand Prix, with the first 26 minutes running without adverts. It did mean more frequent adverts later (five ad-breaks in total), but was unavoidable at time. ITV did capture Schumacher’s overtake on Hakkinen live, so you cannot complain, really.
A late pit stop meant that Barrichello dropped back through the field, which probably pleased the director given the on-board camera on Barrichello’s car!
As the order and conditions settled down, so did the coverage, with the director focusing more on the battles in the latter half of the points paying positions, with heavy focus on Arrows, BAR and Benetton. On the commentary side, Allen provided additional analysis on the movers and shakers from pit lane throughout the Grand Prix.
One battle caught in its entirety was a three-way scrap between Irvine in the Jaguar, Ralf Schumacher’s Williams, and Verstappen’s Arrows. Unfortunately, it ended with both Irvine and Schumacher eliminated at the first corner, followed by Verstappen shunting into the wall towards turn ten.
This is where you can see how radically Formula 1 has changed in even twenty years: Verstappen’s off would have necessitated a Safety Car nowadays, but back then controlled under yellow flags.
One man making a good impression was Verstappen’s team mate Pedro de la Rosa who had crept up to third, which Walker hyped on commentary as “something F1 really needs!” In the end, de la Rosa did need to pit again, dropping him further back.
If anything, the direction for this race was not too dissimilar to a Grand Prix in recent times, given what the director had to work with. Safety Cars aside, the major differences were the lack of team radio and on-board angles, both of which would have added an extra dimension.
RTL’s director caught Ferrari’s error in under fuelling Barrichello at his second stop instantly, which the ITV team picked up many laps later.
In the end at the front of the field, Schumacher picked up his fourth win of the 2000 season, with Hakkinen finishing 13 seconds behind! Coulthard and Barrichello finished in third and fourth, but one lap behind…
With the race overrunning slightly, analysis from ITV was thin on the ground, but nevertheless covered the key events.
Brundle called the race “a very significant day in this year’s World Championship.” As it turned out, Ferrari would only win two of the next seven races, with McLaren largely dominating the Summer months before the tide turned in Italy.
Paul Stoddart is an interesting sighting during the podium celebrations with the Ferrari crew. Although not yet a Formula 1 team boss, Stoddart was present in the paddock, his European Aviation outfit sponsoring the Arrows team.
Following the podium procedure and an ad-break, a young sounding Tom Clarkson is the man asking the questions in the post-race press conference.
Coulthard was amiss to explain the issues with his McLaren, although the ITV team were keen to praise him afterwards, Jardine calling his performance a “very, very brave effort”, the bravery cited due to the plane crash he was involved in a few weeks earlier.
Back in the paddock, Allen interviews Barrichello to wrap up analysis of the big two teams. A brief comment on Jaguar follows, tying up the loose ends from the pre-race build-up, before a few promos and standings concludes ITV’s broadcast of the European Grand Prix!
If the action is anything as thrilling this Sunday, we are in for a treat…