Scheduling: The 2018 French Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns to Paul Ricard for the first time since 1990, with the French Grand Prix! The race makes its return to the calendar, having last held a Grand Prix in 2008 at Magny-Cours. It forms the start of Formula 1’s first ever triple-header, Austria and Britain following in the next two weeks.

A returning race is normally a big thing, generating more publicity for the sport than usual, however that is not quite the case this year thanks to the clash with football’s World Cup extravaganza.

The start times for all the weekend’s action is an hour later than usual (and 130 minutes later than the 2017 European times), the change designed to avoid a clash on Sunday between the Grand Prix and England’s football game against Panama.

Because of the race starting at 15:10 UK time, Channel 4’s highlights are pushed deep into the evening. Channel 4 have opted to keep Bake Off: The Professionals and The Handmaid’s Tale in their usual slots, the F1 highlights starting at 22:10.

The free-to-air broadcaster cannot start their highlights programme at 18:00 (less than 3 hours after the race starts), so the options were to run a truncated show from 19:00, start the programme at 19:00 and drop either Bake Off: The Professionals or Handmaid’s Tale for a week, or do what they have done and start the F1 at 22:15.

It is very unfortunate as the F1 would comfortably bring in more viewers than both programmes based on audience figures so far. The football competition in that scenario would have been Poland versus Colombia, not exactly tier 1 material.

Sky have failed to capitalise on their exclusively live coverage, sticking to the usual routine of airing coverage on the F1 channel, with a Main Event simulcast. Exclusive race or not, I am struggling to grasp why they have not gone a step further and aired live coverage on Sky 1.

There is a massive shop window here for Sky to bring new viewers to their output, and they have not recognised that fact. Furthermore, there is limited coverage on 5 Live, so a major missed opportunity, in my eyes. A separate question is just why the FIA decided to run a triple-header in the middle of the biggest sporting event of the year, and not at either the start or end of the European season…

On the personnel front, Tom Clarkson continues to be super sub for Channel 4 reporter Lee McKenzie, McKenzie currently presenting rugby coverage elsewhere on Channel 4.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
23/06 – 18:30 to 20:10 – Qualifying Highlights
24/06 – 22:15 to 00:10 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
22/06 – 10:30 to 12:55 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
22/06 – 14:45 to 16:50 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/06 – 11:45 to 13:15 – Practice 3
23/06 – 14:00 to 16:40 – Qualifying
=> 14:00 – Pre-Show
=> 14:55 – Qualifying
24/06 – 13:30 to 18:10 – Race
=> 13:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 14:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Supplementary Programming
20/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
21/06 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
21/06 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
23/06 – 18:15 to 18:50 – The F1 Show
27/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review (also Sky Sports Mix)

BBC Radio F1
22/06 – 10:55 to 12:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
22/06 – 14:55 to 16:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
23/06 – 11:55 to 13:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
23/06 – 14:55 to 16:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
24/06 – 15:00 to 18:00 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain GT Sprint Series – Misano (BT Sport 2)
23/06 – 18:45 to 20:30 – Qualifying Race
24/06 – 12:15 to 14:15 – Championship Race

British Touring Car Championship – Croft (ITV4)
24/06 – 11:15 to 18:20 – Races

Formula Two – France (Sky Sports F1)
22/06 – 12:50 to 13:50 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
22/06 – 16:50 to 17:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/06 – 16:40 to 18:15 – Race 1
24/06 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Race 2

GP3 Series – France (Sky Sports F1)
22/06 – 17:45 to 18:30 – Qualifying
23/06 – 10:25 to 11:20 – Race 1
24/06 – 09:40 to 10:40 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Road America (BT Sport/ESPN)
24/06 – 17:30 to 20:30 – Race

World Superbikes – Laguna Seca
23/06 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
23/06 – 21:15 to 23:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
24/06 – 21:30 to 23:15 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
26/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Vila Real (Eurosport 2)
26/06 – 09:00 to 10:30 – Qualifying
26/06 – 15:00 to 18:00
=> 15:00 – Race 2
=> 16:30 – Race 3

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

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8 thoughts on “Scheduling: The 2018 French Grand Prix

  1. The paul ricard race track is now strange race track high speed but with multi color tarmac run offs everywhere. so there is no punishment if you make a mistake. one of the many things wrong with modern F!.

    The List is
    Tracks have been spoil
    Tracks in far flung place that people don’t care about
    Tyre’s made to fall to bits
    No Tyre war
    Engines to expensive and to clever. give the drivers a turbo button let them press it!!!!
    Qually I still prefer the one hour do want ever you want qually.. Its great for highlights though as you only watch last 10minutes.
    F1 on sky – cant watch it – half the time i don’t know when a race is any more. Also sport as to live now because of social media. if you knwo the result you don’t watch it.
    Other motor sport on free to air tv . BTCC , Formula E , Sports on car you tube , Le mans , bikes on quest.
    F1 make political statements – playing national anthem before each race.

  2. Also, in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series, their is no Qualifying and Championship races anymore. It’s two races scoring equal points now.

  3. World Touring Car Cup – Vila Real (Facebook & Eurosport Player)
    23/06 – 08:55 to 09:40 – Free Practice 1
    23/06 – 10:55 to 11:40 – Free Practice 2
    23/06 – 12:25 to 13:20 – 1st Qualifying
    23/06 – 15:45 to 16:45 – Race 1

    World Touring Car Cup – Vila Real (Eurosport 2) *Correct date and time
    24/06 – 09:00 to 10:30 – 2nd Qualifying
    24/06 – 15:30 to 18:00
    => 15:30 – Race 2
    => 16:30 – Race 3

  4. I have to say the decision to run these races at the same time as the World Cup seems odd at first but it does make some sense. On Sunday, the England game will finish at around 2:50pm, which leaves 20 minutes for people to change over to the race. Although the race does clash with another game. Austria faces a similar issue. because although qualifying finishes just as a game begins, the race partially clashes with a last 16 game, which is likely to feature Spain or Portugal and potentially the hosts. Silverstone is slightly more straightforward in that there is no Sunday game, and quali should be over by the time Saturday’s quarter final starts.

    As it stands, all the F1 clashes are with group games and early stage knockouts. If they’d put a 2 week gap between any of these triple header races, Silverstone would have clashed with the World Cup Final, which would be a ratings disaster for obvious reasons.

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