Scheduling: The 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix / Paris E-Prix

Host of a thrilling race last year, the Baku Street Circuit returns in an earlier slot on the 2018 Formula One calendar.

Because of the domino effect surrounding France, it means that Baku takes the slot previously taken by Russia, with Russia moving into the late-September slot held by Malaysia; Malaysia of course no longer on the calendar for 2018.

The race weekend airs live on both Sky Sports and Channel 4. Eddie Jordan returns to Channel 4’s line-up for the first time in 2018, whilst Lee McKenzie returns after missing Bahrain and China.

Elsewhere, Formula E returns, but the race is only live on 5Spike this weekend. Channel 5’s main station at the same time is airing live coverage of the Premiership Rugby, whilst Eurosport’s duties are split between the World Snooker Championship and cycling’s Tour of Romandy.

If Formula 1’s qualifying session overruns slightly, it will also clash with Formula E’s race. The Paris round is due to get underway at 15:04 UK time, with F1 qualifying running from 14:00 to 15:00.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
27/04 – 09:55 to 11:45 – Practice 1
27/04 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2
28/04 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
28/04 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
29/04 – 12:00 to 16:30 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build-Up
=> 12:40 – Race
=> 15:55 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
27/04 – 09:45 to 11:50 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
27/04 – 13:45 to 15:50 – Practice 2
28/04 – 10:45 to 12:15 – Practice 3
28/04 – 13:00 to 15:45 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
29/04 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race
=> 11:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – On the Grid
=> 13:05 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
25/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
26/04 – 12:00 to 12:30 – Driver Press Conference
26/04 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
28/04 – 15:45 to 16:20 – The F1 Show
02/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
26/04 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
27/04 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/04 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/04 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/04 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/04 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Paris (online via YouTube)
28/04 – 06:55 to 07:55 – Practice 1
28/04 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Paris
28/04 – 10:30 to 12:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 10:30 – Preview
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
28/04 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
28/04 – 14:30 to 16:20 – Race (5Spike)
28/04 – 16:35 to 18:00 – Race Delayed (Eurosport 2)
29/04 – 11:40 to 12:45 – Highlights (Channel 5)

British Touring Car Championship – Donington Park (ITV4)
29/04 – 10:40 to 18:20 – Races

Formula Two – Azerbaijan (Sky Sports F1)
27/04 – 07:55 to 08:55 – Practice
27/04 – 11:55 to 12:35 – Qualifying
28/04 – 08:55 to 10:10 – Race 1
29/04 – 10:05 to 11:05 – Race 2

World Rally Championship – Argentina
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
26/04 – 23:00 to 00:00 – Live: Stage 1 (BT Sport 1)
28/04 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 09:30 to 10:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 12:30 to 13:00 (BT Sport 2)
28/04 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Live: Stage 10 (BT Sport 2)
28/04 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Live: Stage 14 (BT Sport/ESPN)
29/04 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 09:30 to 10:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 12:30 to 13:00 (BT Sport 2)
29/04 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Live: Stage 16 (BT Sport 2)
29/04 – 16:00 to 17:30 – Live: Stage 18 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/04 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 09:30 to 10:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 09:30 to 10:00 (BT Sport 1)
01/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

As always, the above will be updated if anything changes.

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Scheduling: The 2018 Chinese Grand Prix / Rome E-Prix

The Chinese Grand Prix plays host to round three of the 2018 Formula One season from the Shanghai International Circuit.

Sky Sports F1’s coverage sees the return of Anthony Davidson for the first time this season. In what might be a first for their coverage, every on-track session is simulcast live on Sky Sports Main Event.

Over on Channel 4, Louise Goodman is the super substitute this weekend for Lee McKenzie. McKenzie returns to Channel 4’s output in Azerbaijan. Aside from the race starting ten minutes later, Saturday’s on-track action takes place one hour earlier than last year.

Formula E heads to Rome for the first time, with the action airing live on 5Spike and Eurosport. In Channel 5’s defence, the race clashes with live coverage of the Premiership Rugby, hence why Formula E finds itself on Channel 5’s sister station again.

Elsewhere, the Euroformula and International GT series’ return to BT Sport for the start of the 2018 season.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
14/04 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying Highlights
15/04 – 14:15 to 16:30 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions (also Sky Sports Main Event)
13/04 – 02:45 to 04:50 – Practice 1
13/04 – 06:45 to 08:50 – Practice 2
14/04 – 03:45 to 05:15 – Practice 3
14/04 – 06:00 to 08:45 – Qualifying
=> 06:00 – Pre-Show
=> 06:55 – Qualifying
15/04 – 05:30 to 10:10 – Race
=> 05:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 06:30 – On the Grid
=> 07:05 – Race
=> 09:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
11/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
12/04 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Driver Press Conference
12/04 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
14/04 – 08:45 to 09:20 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
18/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview

BBC Radio F1
12/04 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
13/04 – 02:55 to 04:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/04 – 06:55 to 08:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/04 – 03:55 to 05:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/04 – 06:55 to 08:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/04 – 06:30 to 09:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Rome (online via YouTube)
14/04 – 06:55 to 07:55 – Practice 1
14/04 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Rome
14/04 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
14/04 – 14:30 to 16:15 – Race (5Spike)
14/04 – 13:45 to 16:15 (Eurosport)
=> 13:45 – Qualifying
=> 14:45 – Race
15/04 – 11:50 to 12:50 – Highlights (Channel 5)

British Superbikes – Brands Hatch
14/04 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
15/04 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Races (Eurosport 2)
18/04 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

Euroformula – Estoril
14/04 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport X2)
15/04 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 1)

European Le Mans Series – Le Castellet (Motorsport.tv)
15/04 – Race
=> 10:45 to 13:00
=> 15:00 to 16:00
=> 18:00 to 19:30

IndyCar Series – Long Beach (BT Sport/ESPN)
15/04 – 21:00 to 00:00 – Race

International GT Open – Estoril (BT Sport/ESPN)
14/04 – 15:00 to 16:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
15/04 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport 1)

World Superbikes – Aragon
14/04 – 09:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
15/04 – 10:00 to 13:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
17/04 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The above will be updated if anything changes.

Update on April 13th – As several people have pointed out, it is FOM’s feeder series commentator Alex Jacques in the 5 Live commentary box today. Jacques will remain there for tomorrow, with Jack Nicholls returning for the F1 race on Sunday.

Scheduling: The 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

Both Formula 1 and MotoGP remain outside of Europe, as both championships embrace round two of their respective seasons.

For MotoGP, it is a trip to South America for the Argentine round of the series, whilst Formula 1 heads to the Bahrain International Circuit. The action from Bahrain airs live across Sky Sports and Channel 4 for the third year in succession.

With Channel 4’s Lee McKenzie reducing her Formula 1 commitments further this season, her former BBC F1 colleague Tom Clarkson is super substitute, for Bahrain at least. Mark Webber and Susie Wolff join Steve Jones in Bahrain. The channel’s free-to-air race day schedule changes slightly for 2018 to cater for the F1 race starting ten minutes later than in previous years.

The Formula Two season roars into life in Bahrain, with races on Saturday and Sunday. Elsewhere, the British Superbikes returns on Easter Monday (April 2nd) at Donington Park, with action remaining live on Eurosport. Rachel Stringer joins the team as race reporter, Stringer having previously covered a variety of events for the BBC and BT Sport.

Both the domestic and world touring car series’ return as well, although the latter has a new name. The former World Touring Car Championship is back, but now known as the World Touring Car Cup as the series no longer has manufacturer participation.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
06/04 – 11:55 to 14:10 – Practice 1
06/04 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 2 (More4)
07/04 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Practice 3
07/04 – 14:55 to 17:45 – Qualifying
08/04 – 15:00 to 18:45 – Race
=> 15:00 – Build-Up
=> 15:45 – Race
=> 18:20 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
06/04 – 11:45 to 13:50 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event from 12:00)
06/04 – 15:45 to 17:50 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
07/04 – 12:45 to 14:15 – Practice 3
07/04 – 15:00 to 17:45 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 15:00 – Pre-Show
=> 15:55 – Qualifying
08/04 – 14:30 to 18:55 – Race
=> 14:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 15:30 – On the Grid
=> 16:05 – Race
=> 18:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
04/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview
05/04 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Driver Press Conference
05/04 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
07/04 – 17:45 to 18:20 – The F1 Show
11/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review (also Sky Sports Mix)

BBC Radio F1
05/04 – 20:00 to 20:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
06/04 – 11:55 to 13:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07/04 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07/04 – 15:55 to 17:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
08/04 – 16:00 to 19:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Argentina (BT Sport 2)
06/04 – 12:45 to 20:15 – Practice 1 and 2
07/04 – 12:45 to 20:15
=> 12:45 – Practice 3
=> 16:00 – Qualifying
08/04 – 13:30 to 21:00
=> 13:30 – Warm Ups
=> 15:15 – Moto3
=> 17:00 – Moto2
=> 18:30 – MotoGP
=> 20:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Argentina (Channel 5)
10/04 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

British Superbikes – Donington Park
01/04 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
02/04 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
04/04 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch (ITV4)
08/04 – 10:15 to 18:20 – Races

Formula Two – Bahrain (Sky Sports F1)
06/04 – 09:30 to 10:20 – Practice
06/04 – 17:55 to 18:35 – Qualifying
07/04 – 11:05 to 12:15 – Race 1
08/04 – 12:10 to 13:10 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Phoenix (BT Sport 3)
07/04 – 02:00 to 05:00 (Saturday night) – Race

World Rally Championship – France
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
06/04 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:15 to 22:45 (BT Sport 1)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
07/04 – 10:00 to 11:00 – Live: Stage 7 (BT Sport 1)
07/04 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 21:45 to 22:15 (BT Sport 1)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
08/04 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Live: Stage 12 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 2)
08/04 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 21:00 to 21:30 (BT Sport 2)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
11/04 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Touring Car Cup – Marrakech
08/04 – 10:30 to 11:50 – Qualifying (Eurosport)
08/04 – 16:30 to 18:55 – Race (Eurosport 2)

As always, if the schedules change, I will update the above times.

Update on April 3rd – I would not normally update schedules retrospectively, but it is important to note that British Superbike’s first race of the weekend from Donington Park was moved from Monday to Sunday, avoiding the torrential weather that hit the circuit yesterday morning. I have updated the above for future reference to show what actually happened.

In other news, Ted Kravitz (and his Notebook!) is not part of Sky Sports F1’s Bahrain Grand Prix team this weekend as his wife has given birth to a baby girl!

Update on April 4th – As a result of Ted’s absense, Paddock Live following the race on Sunday has been cut to 25 minutes from its normal 40 minute length.

News round-up: F1 series coming to Netflix; IndyCar domestic rights changing

In addition to all the discussion around Formula 1’s new graphics suite, the past week saw a variety of broadcasting related announcements, covering both F1 and the IndyCar Series.

F1 documentary series to air on Netflix
Netflix are to air a ten-part documentary series in 2019 focusing on the inner surroundings of Formula 1. The deal between the two parties has been mooted for several months, with an official announcement coming on the Saturday of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Filming has already started, and will continue throughout the 2018 season, with the production team revealing “the intense fight for the heart, soul, and direction for the future of this multibillion-dollar business.” James Gay Rees, who was previously part of the making of Senna, and Paul Martin for Box to Box Films, are the executive producers.

The Netflix series builds on the foundations laid by Amazon’s Grand Prix Driver. The four-part Amazon series focused on McLaren’s pre-season exploits prior to Australia 2017, whereas the Netflix programming has a wider remit across the whole year. I enjoyed Amazon’s documentary, and if this is half as good as that, Formula 1 fans will be in for a treat.

Sean Bratches, F1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations, said “Formula 1 is a global sport that we are actively repositioning from a motorsport company to a media and entertainment brand. This series will unleash a compelling vantage point to the sport that will delight fans and serve as a catalyst to entice new fans.”

Bela Bajaria, Vice President of Content for Netflix, said “This partnership with Formula 1 furthers our mission of working with world-class brands and production partners to produce best-in-class unscripted series. We can’t wait for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix and to embark on an incredible season across the world.”

In a second announcement from Formula 1 last week, the organisation confirmed that coverage was returning to free-to-air broadcaster CCTV in China, with all qualifying and race sessions airing live on the network throughout 2018.

ESPN’s US coverage receives complaints
Bratches’ former home ESPN was subject to numerous complaints over the Australian Grand Prix weekend. The US broadcaster, which took over from NBC as rights holder for Formula 1, was expected to take Sky UK’s pre-race build-up show ‘On the Grid’. However, the show failed to make the air at the expected time, with a variety of technical issues.

ESPN released a press statement late on Sunday evening apologising for the difficulties. “We deeply apologise to Formula 1 fans for the technical issues that caused them to miss the first 20 minutes of the pre-race show for the Australian Grand Prix. We are sorry that our first F1 telecast did not go as smoothly as we would have liked but we are taking steps to prevent those same issues from occurring in the future.”

The secondary problem is commercial breaks. Formula 1 commentary in the UK is free-flowing, as Sky Sports air F1 uninterrupted, whereas ESPN in the US take commercials. This is a major issue if something happens whilst ESPN is on a commercial break.

Historically, US viewers had a dedicated commentary team for their audience meaning that the lead commentator could re-cap the action on return. Forcing Sky’s UK commentary team to do the same thing would disturb the flow for anyone taking the UK coverage uninterrupted and would provoke a backlash from UK viewers.

One approach would be to have Sky’s F1 presentation team (i.e. Simon Lazenby) do a voice over for US viewers leading back into the UK commentary at a given point, that way the commentary flow is untouched.

In further news, ESPN’s coverage of the Grand Prix rated lower than NBC’s coverage in recent years. According to Showbuzz Daily, ESPN2’s show failed to make the top 150 for original programmes on Saturday, recording under a 0.05 share in the adults 18 to 49 metric. Last year’s NBC coverage averaged 238,000 viewers, whereas 2016’s show averaged 222,000 viewers.

International television rights for IndyCar up for grabs
The IndyCar Series is heading to NBC from 2019, with their existing US agreement with ESPN and ABC Network coming to an end after this season, the two sides confirmed last week.

The three-year deal will see eight races, including the Indianapolis 500, broadcast on NBC’s main channel with the remaining races airing on NBC Sports Network.

In addition, NBC’s over-the-top platform, dubbed NBC Sports Gold, will offer an IndyCar package consisting of every race from the feeder series Indy Lights, plus all practice and qualifying sessions from the main series not broadcast on one of NBC’s linear television channels.

As part of the press release, NBC touted the fact that IndyCar’s viewing figures have grown in recent years with the broadcaster as part of the shared contract with ESPN/ABC. “We’re honoured to bring the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports, to NBC, further enhancing NBC Sports’ Championship Season,” said Jon Miller, NBC’s President of Programming.

“We’ve seen consistent growth for INDYCAR on NBCSN in the past decade, and we hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the television, digital, production and marketing assets that make NBC Sports a powerful media partner.”

IndyCar officials have also confirmed that the international broadcasting rights for the series are up for grabs at the end of 2018. For UK fans, it helps clear up a few things. BT Sport have a deal to with ESPN’s international arm to air a range of content up to and including the end of 2022. Separately, IndyCar’s non-domestic rights sit with ESPN’s international arm.

ESPN International are the ‘middle man’ here, if that man changes then BT Sport will need to negotiate with the new ‘middle man’ if they want to continue to air IndyCar, unless IndyCar go direct to a broadcaster, for example Eurosport (see below).

Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar’s parent company Hulman and Company, said “We will now move to working on the international rights licensing right away. We’ve had a lot of those very early conversations to understand both from an agency perspective and individual broadcaster perspective who wants to talk to us.”

“[The NBC deal] does not preclude an ongoing involvement by ESPN International. Although with any result, I think it will change. There may be countries where we go direct to broadcasters in any major country with IndyCar interests. I see us being at the table, even if we go with a distributor or packager like ESPN International.”

“There are a number of agencies that would love to compete with ESPN International for whatever we’re willing to license as part of a package, and there are a number of countries where we’re already having direct conversations with broadcasters. It will be some kind of a mixed approach undoubtedly.”

Scheduling: The 2018 Qatar MotoGP / Punta del Este E-Prix

The excitement, anticipation and tension has reached fever pitch on the eve of the new MotoGP season, which begins in Qatar!

Whether you are listening to the MotoGP app, or to BT Sport’s television coverage, the soundtrack to your weekend will be different, following the retirements of Nick Harris and Julian Ryder from the paddock at the end of 2017.

Simon Crafar, who raced in MotoGP and World Superbikes in the 1990s, partners Steve Day on the MotoGP World Feed, whilst Neil Hodgson will commentate on the 19 MotoGP races alongside Keith Huewen for BT Sport.

Ex-MotoGP rider Michael Laverty joins BT’s team for six races in 2018, with more an emphasis on the analytical side of things from BT this year. BT have overhauled their Friday offering, with a full presentation team now covering the action on practice day, and a 15-minute wrap-up show in the evening.

Suzi Perry continues to present BT’s coverage, covering 14 rounds, with Craig Doyle hosting the remainder.

MotoGP highlights programme remains on Channel 5 for 2018, however highlights from Qatar do not air until Wednesday evening, which seems like a waste on Channel 5’s behalf given that there are diminishing returns the further away from live you air.

Elsewhere, Punta del Este is the next stop on the Formula E calendar, replacing Sao Paolo which was meant to fill this slot. Live action returns to Channel 5 for the first time since Marrakesh in January.

MotoGP – Qatar (BT Sport 2)
16/03 – 09:30 to 17:15 – Practice 1 and 2
17/03 – 09:30 to 12:30 – Practice 3
17/03 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Qualifying
18/03 – 10:30 to 18:00
=> 10:30 – Warm Ups
=> 12:15 – Moto3
=> 14:00 – Moto2
=> 15:30 – MotoGP
=> 17:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Qatar (Channel 5)
21/03 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

Formula E – Punta del Este (online via YouTube)
17/03 – 10:55 to 11:55 – Practice 1
17/03 – 13:25 to 14:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Punta del Este
17/03 – 14:45 to 16:15 – Qualifying (5Spike)
17/03 – 17:30 to 20:10 (Eurosport 2)
=> 17:30 – Preview
=> 18:05 – Qualifying
=> 19:00 – Race
17/03 – 18:30 to 20:10 – Race (Channel 5)

Asia Talent Cup – Qatar (BT Sport 2)
17/03 – 17:30 to 18:30 – Race 1
18/03 – 09:45 to 10:30 – Race 2

As always, the above will be updated if anything changes.