Aside from the 101st Indianapolis 500 this weekend, there is the small matter of the Monaco Grand Prix!
Channel 4 will be covering the race live, the first time that a free–to–air broadcaster has done so since 2012. Susie Wolff is back with the team in Monaco, her first appearance this season. Like in Russia, the channel will be on air for four and a half hours on race day. The third episode of F1 Meets airs between practice three and qualifying on Saturday, as Lee McKenzie chats to Claire Williams.
Over on Sky Sports, the race will be simulcast on Sky Sports Mix, the first simulcast on Mix since Malaysia last year. The rest of the weekend scheduling is as anticipated, with practice taking place on the Thursday, a Monaco tradition.
Outside of the F1 and the Indianapolis 500, it is a packed weekend of motor sport, with Formula Two and World Superbikes amongst the other events taking place across the weekend.
For the Indianapolis 500 schedule, please head over here…
Channel 4 F1 Sessions
25/05 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
25/05 – 12:55 to 15:00 – Practice 2
27/05 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
27/05 – 11:55 to 14:30 – Qualifying
28/05 – 12:00 to 16:30 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction
27/05 – 11:25 to 11:55 – F1 Meets… Claire Williams
Sky Sports F1 Sessions
25/05 – 08:45 to 10:55 – Practice 1
25/05 – 12:45 to 14:55 – Practice 2
27/05 – 09:45 to 11:10 – Practice 3
27/05 – 12:00 to 14:40 – Qualifying
28/05 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live (also on Sky Sports Mix)
=> 12:30 – Race (also on Sky Sports Mix)
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Mix)
24/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
24/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
24/05 – 21:00 to 21:15 – Paddock Uncut
25/05 – 16:00 to 16:40 – Team Press Conference
25/05 – 16:40 to 17:10 – The F1 Show
26/05 – 17:00 to 17:30 – The F1 Show
31/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review
BBC Radio F1
25/05 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/05 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
27/05 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
28/05 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
British GT – Snetterton 300 (Frontrunner)
28/05 – Races
=> 11:20 to 14:00
=> 15:40 to 17:45
Euroformula – Spa
27/05 – 14:30 to 15:30 – Race 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
28/05 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)
Formula Renault Eurocup – Monaco (BT Sport 3)
27/05 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Race 1
28/05 – 10:00 to 11:00 – Race 2
Formula Two – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
25/05 – 10:55 to 11:45 – Practice
25/05 – 15:10 to 16:00 – Qualifying
26/05 – 10:25 to 11:55 – Race 1
27/05 – 15:05 to 16:25 – Race 2
Formula V8 3.5 – Jerez
27/05 – 12:30 to 13:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
28/05 – 12:00 to 13:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)
International GT Open – Spa
27/05 – 15:30 to 17:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
28/05 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)
The spectacle that is the Indianapolis 500 is here. This year, there is more attention and intrigue on the event as two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso attempts to add the blue riband event to his resume. Even if Alonso does not win, the 500 as always, promises to be a fantastic event.
As with the other IndyCar events, BT Sport will be screening the race exclusively live, which marks round six of the 2017 IndyCar season. There was some hope that another television or radio station would broadcast the Indianapolis 500, but that has not yet materialised. One source commented that the upcoming general election had reduced the chance of covering the race, with resources now dedicated to other areas. If plans change, including methods to watch the race legally, live via ‘other means’, I will update this post.
Whisper Films, who currently produce Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage, have been brought in to oversee BT’s Indianapolis 500 coverage. As of last week, I understand that Suzi Perry will present coverage from their studios on Olympic Park, helped by the fact that there is no MotoGP action that weekend.
Preparation commenced earlier this month, with key personnel interviewed. BT’s MotoGP reporter Gavin Emmett interviewed Fernando Alonso prior to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, whilst Whisper conducted filming at McLaren HQ on May 5th. It is likely that BT will bring in special guests to give the race itself a bigger feel compared to your typical IndyCar coverage.
For qualifying, Keith Collantine and Ben Evans will continue to provide commentary whilst American colleagues are on commercial.
Thursday 18th May (YouTube)
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice 4
Friday 19th May (YouTube)
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice 5
Saturday 20th May
13:00 to 14:30 – Practice 6 (YouTube)
20:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 1
=> 20:00 (YouTube)
=> 21:00 (BT Sport/ESPN)
Sunday 21st May
17:00 to 19:00 – Practice 7 (YouTube)
19:45 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 2
=> 19:45 (YouTube)
=> 21:00 (BT Sport/ESPN)
Monday 22nd May (YouTube)
17:30 to 21:00 – Practice 8
Saturday 27th May (YouTube)
15:30 to 16:30 – Public Drivers’ Meeting
Sunday 28th May (BT Sport/ESPN)
16:30 to 21:00 – Race
If anything changes regarding the UK television coverage, I will update this post.
Update on May 20th at 11:50 – Keith Collantine and Oliver Webb will be commentating on qualifying for UK viewers. Furthermore, as noted above, Suzi Perry has confirmed she will be presenting BT’s coverage next Sunday.
Update on May 20th at 13:10 – Perry will be joined by Mike Conway and the Guardian writer Richard Williams next Sunday, with Collantine and Ben Evans on commentary during the US adverts.
Update on May 22nd – Further confirmation from Perry that Gavin Emmett and Jonathan Green will also be joining Perry in the studio.
The Spanish Grand Prix continued Formula 1’s recent upward trajectory in the ratings following on from positive numbers in Bahrain and Russia, overnight viewing figures show.
Year-on-year comparisons are difficult for this race for the individual broadcasters, as both channels aired the race live last year, whereas Sky Sports had exclusive live coverage this season. However, the numbers do show an interesting pattern. As always, figures exclude on-demand methods such as Now TV, Sky Go and All 4.
Live coverage of the race, broadcast on Sky Sports F1 from 12:00 to 15:30, averaged 530k (6.7%), peaking with 888k at 14:35 as Lewis Hamilton claimed victory. In comparison, Sky’s coverage last year, despite sharing with Channel 4, averaged 559k (6.4%), with a peak figure of 883k. So, despite having exclusivity, Sky’s figures failed to increase.
A peak figure below one million viewers for a Sky exclusive European round is disappointing, especially considering that two Premier League games on Sky Sports 1 brought in audiences over the magic million mark (West Ham vs Liverpool and Tottenham vs Man United).
Channel 4’s highlights programme, which aired from 18:45 to 21:00, averaged 2.12m (11.5%), peaking with 2.89 million viewers. Their highlights number marks an increase on the number for their Spanish Grand Prix live programme last year. Overall, Channel 4 should be pleased, with a number that is higher than a lot of their highlights programming from 2016, only behind Austria and Germany.
The combined audience of 2.65 million viewers is up 6.4 percent on last year’s average audience of 2.49 million viewers. The combined peak audience of 3.78 million viewers is up 5.6 percent on last year’s peak audience of 3.58 million viewers. Whilst both metrics represent a sizeable drop compared to 2015, the viewing figures mark a positive step in the right direction as the championship battle continues to heat up.
Live coverage of qualifying, broadcast on Sky Sports F1 from 12:00 to 14:40, averaged 289k (4.0%), peaking with 476k. Channel 4’s highlights programme from 17:30 to 19:00 added a further 1.14m (8.1%), with 1.56m watching at its peak.
The qualifying highlights followed an identical pattern to that of the race a day later: Channel 4 up slightly, Sky Sports down slightly despite the latter having exclusivity.
The combined average audience of 1.43 million viewers is up 9.3 percent on last year’s average audience of 1.31 million viewers. However, and failing to complete a ‘clean sweep’ as a result, the peak audience was down slightly year-on-year, with a combined peak audience of 2.04 million viewers recorded compared with a peak of 2.16 million viewers in 2016.
The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.
2017 marks twenty years since ITV’s Formula 1 coverage first hit our television screens. Their inaugural season covering the sport was a roller-coaster ride, with the championship battle between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher going down to the wire in Jerez.
Here, we turn our attention to the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix, which marked round six of the championship. Through the early fly-away races, the season had been a very competitive affair, dominated by the tyre war between Goodyear and Bridgestone. The previous round in Monaco saw Schumacher dominate in the pouring rain. Would Villeneuve be able to bounce back in Catalunya?
At this point in proceedings, ITV’s coverage was beginning to gel together into a cohesive unit. Here is how the team lined up for the weekend:
Date: Sunday 25th May 1997
Time: 12:35 to 15:10
Presenter: Jim Rosenthal
Reporter: Louise Goodman
Reporter: James Allen
Commentator: Murray Walker
Commentator: Martin Brundle
Analyst: Tony Jardine
Analyst: Simon Taylor
In the early years, ITV’s build-up for the European rounds would typically last around 25 minutes, expanding into the early 2000s to the typical one-hour length that we currently see for live free-to-air broadcasts.
After an opening interlude from Jim Rosenthal highlighting Schumacher’s Monaco success, Jamiroquai plays in ITV’s F1 coverage. We are straight into a qualifying wrap up, with Louise Goodman providing voice over. It is a quick-fire round-up, no fancy graphics or music, just Goodman narrating with Walker providing the commentary over the key bits. The grid graphics (more fancy for 1997!) follow on.
Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve gives his post-qualifying opinion to James Allen, describing his last lap as “near perfection”. All the above occurring within the first five minutes, unsurprising when there is not much build-up time to play with for ITV.
The studio atmosphere between Rosenthal, Taylor and Jardine is good (there is enough time to mention Taylor’s seasickness from Monaco, for example!). ITV strike the right tone, with discussion varying from personality driven to one of a technical nature.
A feature of ITV’s coverage from day one was an on-board lap of the circuit, but in 1997 this took the form of a virtual tour. The channel used an early version of the F1 1997 PlayStation game for the virtual lap, with Martin Brundle narrating. There are no additional features during the build-up, with the remainder of time allotted to covering grid interviews and studio chat.
Allen and Goodman provided the grid interviews, interviewing Damon Hill, Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and Jean Alesi. Studio chatter interspersed the interviews, but this did not work well, and you can quickly see why ITV introduced a grid walk later in the season. Whilst the studio segments are good, you do not get a sense of the atmosphere building, in the same way you do in later years with the grid walk format that Brundle made popular.
Nevertheless, the studio discussion does produce some excellent technical conversation tailored to the casual fan, with Taylor dissecting why Ferrari are struggling around the Barcelona circuit.
JR: Again, for those coming to grips with the world of Formula 1, why should the Ferrari win in Monaco, which I know was a very different sort of circuit, and you say now this place just doesn’t suit them at all, with all the testing, all the money, with all the things like that.
ST: The real problem here in Barcelona is long, fast corners. And if you have a car that understeers, that’s a car that wants to go straight on in a fast corner, then you won’t get a good time. That’s Ferrari’s problem, they can’t get the grip in the long, fast corners. They can get the grip in the tight turns of Monaco. Here, it is very abrasive, they’re worried about tyre wear particularly on the front left tyre. So, it’s not looking good for Ferrari, but you can never discount them.
We see the championship standings much closer to the race start than usual instead of at the start of the broadcast, in the context of Benetton’s disappointing year so far following Alesi’s grid interview.
There is no batting around the bush about what to expect for the race, with Walker calling Villeneuve the “hot favourite” for the Grand Prix. The five minutes before the race are great from the local host director, as there is a take on Formula E’s segway with the camera man focusing on each car one by one, which is a nice touch. During the segway, Walker mentions the driver change at Sauber, Gianni Morbidelli replacing Nicola Larini.
In 1997, the Barcelona circuit was one of the newer races on the calendar, then in its seventh season nevertheless the crowd, whilst smaller than other races, is still a healthy number. Ralf Schumacher stalled his Jordan car at the first start, resulting in an aborted start. At this stage, Walker and Brundle have access to team radio information from the Jordan team, with material relayed back to the viewers. An abandoned start is a good thing for viewers at this stage, as it meant that ITV could take an advert break without ‘losing’ any laps, meaning that the first 19 laps were live and uninterrupted.
Whilst the pre-race angles on the grid were good, the first lap was a mess from the local director. Multiple camera operators were far too slow to respond to the cars, resulting in cameras that panned to action half way through the field instead of the action up front. We can just about pick out, as does Walker, the “meteoric” start from Schumacher’s Ferrari, although Walker does make it sound better than it was, which Brundle points out half way round lap two! (Stating he started 9th and not 7th). The replays do make up for the host directors’ inefficiencies, with a helicopter replay, and a replay showing on-board footage of Schumacher’s start, which is amazing to watch and decipher.
The early laps are close between the front-runners, the excitement in Walker’s voice is loud and clear, even if Brundle proclaims that Villeneuve will “run and hide”. The attention is on the battle between Schumacher and Coulthard, with a queue quickly developing. Walker covers the rest of the action as best as he can at that phase in the Grand Prix, but the director is right to focus on the growing train behind the leading Ferrari.
It is a tyre dependent formula, which explains and justifies ITV’s pre-race stance to explain this element adequately to viewers. The local Formula One Management director uses helicopter shots to show the growing gap between Villeneuve and Schumacher. Coulthard finally makes the move before his first of three stops. ITV use James Allen during the pit stop sequence, pointing out a near collision between Schumacher and Benetton’s Gerhard Berger in the pit lane.
Damon Hill is in fifth position! Damon Hill in the Arrows Yamaha is higher than he has ever been this season, a terrific performance, whatever reason. Some of it of course will be due to the fact that people have been in for tyres and he hasn’t. Villeneuve leads, Alesi is in second position… and Hill stops! Ohh… as I say it. That is six races and six failures for Damon Hill. And even his patience and tolerance must be severely tested. – Murray Walker with the commentators’ curse
Villeneuve’s performance with one less stop is dominant. On return from the first break Rosenthal hands us over to Simon Taylor who covers Alesi’s first stop ‘as live’ (which occurred during the commercial break), before handing back to Walker, a neat move as he moved in front of Ferrari’s Schumacher. Through the first pit stop sequence and Villeneuve’s different strategy, Coulthard has closed in on Villeneuve with the gap down to three seconds, whilst Panis on the Bridgestone tyres in third before pitting.
Our TV director missed Alesi and Schumacher passing Hakkinen, instead cutting to Frentzen pitting despite the German driver being out of contention at this phase in the race. Walker and Brundle continue to bring into play the tyre situation, noting that blistering is a factor and that the Goodyear tyres are “too soft” for this race track. There is limited coverage of runners below sixth place, beyond the pit stop sequences, just one of ways that the feed became diluted in the late 1990s compared to the F1 Digital+ service that was starting across Europe. However, the gaps throughout the field are marginal meaning we see the likes of Johnny Herbert’s Sauber running in 4th place briefly, Walker describing it as an “interesting and exciting race.”
A lot of pit stop strategies have gone completely out of the window this afternoon. And as we look out of our commentary box window itself, there seem to be as many cars coming down the pit lane as down the pit straight! – ITV co-commentator Martin Brundle
The tyre war theme continues into the second half of the Grand Prix as Panis on Bridgestone tyres overtakes Coulthard’s McLaren on Goodyear tyres for third position (a beautiful helicopter shot at this moment showing Panis move ahead), Panis then comfortably pulling away from the McLaren! Clearly a Prost car overtaking a McLaren was previously unheard of, but made possible because of the 1997 formula, Walker notes that all the races so far in 1997 have been tyre dominated. Brundle seems in almost shock regurgitating to viewers that Coulthard may end up on a “four stop strategy” as ITV head to a further break. The differing strategies raises the prospect of Panis winning the race thanks to his lightning pace.
Once the leading runners pit, the order is Villeneuve, Panis, Alesi and Schumacher. ITV take their last break with 12 laps to go, and on their return the battle for first is a battle for second between Panis, Alesi and Schumacher, thanks to backmarkers failing to move over, with Alesi gesticulating repeatedly to the marshals. Panis does close in on Villeneuve again near to the end, but Brundle clearly annoyed in commentary at how long it took Panis to clear the traffic, leaving Villeneuve to win the Grand Prix.
Like at the start, the host director struggles at the end as Villeneuve tours back to the pit lane, missing Johnny Herbert overtaking Coulthard’s McLaren on the last lap. Brundle brutal in his assessment that the local director has missed “just about everything else” this weekend.
ITV stick with the podium without going to an advert break. The process from parc ferme to the podium itself appears to be a lot quicker than it is now. Following the Canadian and British national anthems, it is time for the obligatory champagne! An all French-speaking podium, which might be a rare occasion.
We see the classifications rundown again, as Walker outlines the key achievements including a 1-3 for Renault and a strong performance for Prost. Walker also compliments Goodyear’s 350th win against the onslaught of Bridgestone (who were successful in CART), saying “heaven knows where Grand Prix racing would be if it wasn’t for Goodyear.” This is to a degree to fill time before the press conference, ITV airing it live instead of switching back to the studio for initial post-race analysis.
At the start of the analysis, Rosenthal made it clear that the three post-race interviews would be with Patrick Head, Johnny Herbert, and Michael Schumacher. The three main subjects as a result are Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s poor performance (which the consensus is that it was not his fault, but instead a result of poor set-up) and Schumacher’s brilliant start which Jardine analyses.
The last interview with a happy Herbert, describing how his tyres got better with each set, which led into a studio discussion about the scrap involving Schumacher and Coulthard during the first phase of the Grand Prix. There is not much else covered, aside from the promos for other events, all that is left is for Rosenthal to publicise the Canadian Grand Prix and to wrap up proceedings in Spain.
The Formula 1 paddock moves into Europe for round five of the 2017 Formula One season, the Spanish Grand Prix. The weekend’s action will be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with highlights airing each evening on Channel 4.
Anthony Davidson will be back with Sky Sports for the Spanish round of the season. As announced pre-season, Davidson will be with the team for five races this year. Elsewhere, the Formula E championship returns with round five from Monaco. Martin Haven will be back in the commentary box as Jack Nicholls will be covering the Formula 1 action for BBC Radio 5 Live. Haven will be alongside Bob Varsha and Mike Conway as Dario Franchitti is stateside for the Indianapolis 500 build-up. The electric championship speeds up now with eight races taking place in the next two and a half months!
Also in action, next weekend is IndyCar action from the Indianapolis road course, whilst the World Superbike riders will be at Imola.
Channel 4 F1 Sessions
13/05 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
14/05 – 18:45 to 21:00 – Race Highlights
Sky Sports F1 Sessions
12/05 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
12/05 – 12:45 to 14:50 – Practice 2
13/05 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
13/05 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying
14/05 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
10/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
11/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
12/05 – 01:30 to 01:45 – Paddock Uncut
12/05 – 17:35 to 18:15 – Team Press Conference – to be confirmed
12/05 – 18:15 to 18:45 – The F1 Show – to be confirmed
17/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review
BBC Radio F1
11/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/05 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/05 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/05 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/05 – 12:30 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
Formula Two – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
12/05 – 11:00 to 11:45 – Practice
12/05 – 14:55 to 15:25 – Qualifying
13/05 – 14:35 to 15:45 – Race 1
14/05 – 09:30 to 10:25 – Race 2
Formula E – Monaco (online via Channel 5’s social media channels and YouTube)
13/05 – 06:55 to 07:55 – Practice 1
13/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2
Formula E – Monaco
13/05 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Qualifying (Spike)
13/05 – 14:30 to 16:15 – Race (Channel 5)
Formula V8 3.5 – Monza (BT Sport 3)
13/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1
14/05 – 10:30 to 12:00 – Race 2
GP3 Series – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
13/05 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
13/05 – 16:10 to 17:00 – Race 1
14/05 – 08:20 to 09:00 – Race 2
IndyCar Series – Grand Prix of Indianapolis (BT Sport 2)
14/05 – 20:30 to 23:00 – Race
Speedway Grand Prix – Poland (BT Sport 3)
13/05 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races
World Rallycross Championship – Belgium (Motorsport.tv)
14/05 – 13:00 to 14:55 – Race
World Superbikes – Imola
13/05 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
14/05 – 10:00 to 15:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
16/05 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)
As mentioned, once Sky’s schedules are in shape, I will update the above information.
Update on May 9th – I have had confirmation from Sky that their original schedules were incorrect. Sky will not be broadcasting the Porsche Supercup series and GP3 practice live, so exactly the same as previous years. I have also amended the Formula E commentary line-up – Dario Franchitti is in fact stateside and not covering the event.