Casting an eye over the F1 media landscape

The Formula 1 community is filled with journalists from all corners of the globe, with the sport covered in a variety of languages, catering for a range of different audiences, from the hardcore aficionados to the person wanting a quick five-minute summary of everything that is going on.

From a United Kingdom perspective, there are eleven entities that make up the Formula 1 media landscape, covering both heavyweights and outlets further down the chain:

  • Official F1 website
  • BBC
  • Crash Media Group
  • ESPN Media Group
  • ‘Fleet Street’
  • Motor Sport Magazine
  • Motorsport Media Services
  • Motorsport Network
  • Racefans
  • Reuters
  • Sky

Most entities above are primarily web-based, although some straddle into both television and print. So, how do the entities break down, and which groups splice off into sub-divisions?

The leading quartet
For most readers, four outlets are instantly recognisable, and hold control of the Formula 1 media landscape. Others will be unknown to the naked eye, until you look below the surface and see why they are listed.

The BBC and Sky are two of the UK’s biggest broadcasters, the latter now pan-European. Whilst the BBC no longer covers Formula 1 on television, its website, led by Andrew Benson as it has been for the past two decades, still produces insight and opinion.

Since their television coverage started in 2012, Sky’s UK arm have operated an expansive F1 website. As well as their news articles, the UK site provides a variety of columns, from behind the scenes paddock insight via Rachel Brookes, to technical analysis from commentary box director Mark Hughes. Although Sky’s UK and Italian television crews share content occasionally, this is more unusual online with a specific website for Sky Italia.

If you have purchased a copy of Autosport recently, or read an article via James Allen’s website, you might think that the two are owned by separate entities. Why would the passing punter think any different? That is where Motorsport Network, led by McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown, comes into the equation.

Initially consisting of just Motorsport.com, Motorsport Network have expanded their portfolio the past two years. First on the agenda was Haymarket Media Group’s motor racing outlets (including Autosport and F1 Racing), which moved under Motorsport Network’s ownership in late 2016.

Allen’s website and GPUpdate.net followed, with Motorsport Network closing GPUpdate.net’s English site, diverting resources towards their existing channels. Editorial resources covering Formula 1 across Autosport and Motorsport.com are becoming rationalised, with the same content, appearing on both platforms.

Autosport also runs an Academy for budding journalists, allowing them to exploit a wide range of opportunities across the Motorsport Network portfolio, both on print and television (Motorsport.tv, which was Motors TV, is also part of the Network).

Up until recently, the official Formula 1 website ran a skeleton news operation, reporting only information and not engaging in the rumour mill or analytical pieces. The frequency of news has increased since Liberty Media’s takeover of F1, with the likes of Lawrence Barretto (ex-BBC and Autosport) and Chris Medland joining the team.

Alongside the news articles, there are now regular features on the site, such as the F1 Inbox, and F1 Power Rankings with other FOM personnel such as Will Buxton contributing to these articles.

The mid-pack
The leading contingent above are significantly larger than some of the mid-pack runners, one might think of this as a ‘manufacturer’ versus ‘independent’ situation.

Previously known as F1 Fanatic from 2005 until the start of this year, Racefans is an independent website covering Formula 1, although it has started to branch out to cover other championships recently. Dieter Rencken, who was part of Autosport’s offering for 25 years, defected to Racefans at the start of 2018, bolstering their paddock presence.

Like Rencken, journalist Joe Saward has attached himself to an independent site. His musings are hosted on Motorsport Week, part of Motorsport Media Services’ outlets. Whilst the relationship is a little less formal than that between Rencken and Racefans, it goes to show that not every established journalist is within Motorsport Network’s portfolio. Motorsport Week has been around since 2008, historically known as The F1 Times and Grand Prix Times.

Another F1 rights holder with a website presence is ESPN. However, its Formula 1 website is largely independent of the US television coverage, having being around for several years. Laurence Edmondson and Nate Saunders lead the web output, with familiar faces to UK readers such as Mark Gallagher and Jennie Gow contributing to video content. Instead of giving their US coverage a distinctive voice, ESPN and FOM decided to give US viewers Sky’s UK coverage meaning that the ESPN website remained independent of the TV output.

As well as writing and contributing to Sky’s F1 coverage, Mark Hughes also writes regular columns for Motor Sport Magazine. Now in its 94th year, if you are after a more in-depth outlook on current affairs, as well as a reflection on yesteryear, Motor Sport Magazine is the place for you. Best of all, their entire magazine archive has been digitalised, putting many classic moments at your fingertips, written by those who were there on the day.

Slightly younger than Motor Sport Magazine at 18 years, Crash Media Group (CMG) is now an established name in the motor racing media circles (one can only guess if this group is on Motorsport Network’s radar or not). CMG goes beyond Crash.net, as the group also owns a motorcycling website (Visordown) and a golf website (GolfMagic). Crash has a working relationship with Bike Sport News, but does not currently own the entity.

News agencies and foreign outlets
Reuters is primarily a news agency, meaning that it is unlikely that fans go to Reuters’ directly for their news. Instead, news from Reuters’ resident Formula 1 correspondent Alan Baldwin will more than likely make its way through to other sites, such as the BBC for example.

The ‘Fleet Street‘ contingent has reduced over the years, but there are still some UK newspapers reporting on Formula 1 from the races. Bec Clancy leads the way for The Times, having succeeded Kevin Eason as their motor racing reporter. Other sites, such as The Independent and The Guardian, but very few have someone dedicated to F1 like in yesteryear. As one might expect, the expense of sending someone on site outweighs the amount of readers likely to view or read the following article.

The main non-English website to mention is German website Auto Motor und Sport, which regularly reports F1 stories before its English counterparts through its main reporter Tobi Gruner.

There are countless more websites that I could mention, but I have tried to avoid including sites that regurgitate content already out there. The further down the motor racing pyramid you go, the more sites you see that specialise in a specific series, as accreditation is more straightforward than at the top.

Plus, you have a higher probability of speaking to contacts, breaking an exclusive Formula E story for example, and getting your foot in the door than an equivalent in F1, , increasing your reputation. As the saying goes, you must start somewhere…

Are there any major websites that I have missed out? Do the sites listed cover everything you look for in Formula 1 reporting? Have your say in the comments below.

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7 thoughts on “Casting an eye over the F1 media landscape

  1. Reddit’s r/Formula1 subreddit is another big website but it’s a mix between aggregation and original content. If I recall it was the first to report Rosberg’s departure from Mercedes and Bottas’s joining of the team and it might be worth a mention, despite being a little differently set up than the others.

  2. Thanks for this. A very informative article. I have noticed the relationship between Motorsport and Autosport etc and wonder how long Autosport has left to run. Why would you read Autosport.com when you can read it all on Motorsport and have no article limit?

  3. Chris Medlund also writes good columns for Racer.com, so did Will Buxton but he cut back or stopped after getting the FOM gig, though of course it is a US-focused site.

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