Scheduling: The 2018 Marrakesh E-Prix

After a break for Christmas, the Formula E series returns with race three of the 2017-18 season taking place in Marrakesh.

Channel 5 are airing live coverage of the race, having broadcast the double-header from Hong Kong on tape-delay. The broadcaster appears to complimenting their coverage with an hour-long build-up, the longest since ITV covered the championship. I did wonder if the first half hour was an episode of Formula E’s Street Racers magazine show, but there is no indication that this is the case.

In further good news, Channel 5’s sister channel 5Spike (previously Spike) are airing qualifying live. As in Hong Kong, Vernon Kay will be on hand to present their output, including qualifying, with Jack Nicholls, Dario Franchitti and Bob Varsha providing World Feed commentary.

Eurosport will also air the race live, with qualifying on tape-delay. Expect to see them add their own flavour over the World Feed broadcast, with Tom Gaymor and Mike Conway at the helm.

Formula E – Marrakesh (online via YouTube)
13/01 – 07:55 to 08:55 – Practice 1
13/01 – 10:25 to 11:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Marrakesh
13/01 – 10:30 to 11:25 – Preview (Channel 5)
13/01 – 11:45 to 13:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
13/01 – 15:00 to 17:15 (Eurosport)
=> 15:00 – Preview
=> 15:15 – Qualifying [tape delay]
=> 16:00 – Race
13/01 – 15:30 to 17:15 – Race (Channel 5)

If the schedule changes, I will update the above.

Update on January 13th at 11:40 – It looks like Channel 5’s schedule changed late in the day, as the Preview show was actually a Season Preview, and moved to 10:30, extended to an hour in length. So, their live Marrakesh show actually starts at 15:30 UK time.


Sky F1’s Christmas schedule takes shape

Three new review shows will be part of Sky Sports F1’s Christmas festivities in the forthcoming weeks along with two feature length interviews. Following on from their main review which first aired on Sunday 3rd December, the following shows will also air over Christmas:

– The now-regular Journalists Special airs on the F1 channel on Wednesday 13th December from 20:30 to 21:30. Will Buxton, Chris Medland and Jonathan McEvoy are the guests.
– A special in-depth interview will air with 2017 Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton over the festive period. The show, entitled Lewis Hamilton: My 4th World Title, premieres on Christmas Day from 14:00 to 14:30.
– The Sky Sports F1 team gather together for a Sky F1 Christmas Special, which first airs on Christmas Day from 16:00 to 17:00 (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event).

The airings listed are the first linear television airing, but expect the three programmes to turn up on Sky’s On Demand service prior to their linear showing.

Sky are also airing special interviews with Zak Brown and Adrian Newey over the festive period. The two shows receive a linear television première on Boxing Day at 11:00 and 11:35 respectively.

Between now and Christmas, Sky are replaying every race session from 2017 in full, with classic races also airing in a variety of time slots. Formula Two takes pride of place in Sky’s schedules between Christmas and New Year, with races airing daily from 11:00 between the 26th and 30th December.

Elsewhere, BBC Radio 5 Live is host to two specials:

– Jennie Gow hosts a special focusing on the role and future of Grid Girls. The show airs on Thursday 14th December from 20:00
– The one-hour 5 Live F1 Season Review premieres on the radio station on Christmas Eve at 11:00

Further details will be added to this post as they become available.

Updated on Wednesday 20th December.

Scheduling: The 2017 Hong Kong E-Prix

“When the moment comes, let’s stand together!” Formula E is back for its fourth season! The championship heads to Hong Kong for their first two E-Prix (note the new stylisation) of the 2017-18 season.

Live coverage of the race in the United Kingdom will air on Eurosport, following a wider deal between Eurosport’s international arm and Formula E. However, despite also having live rights, free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 are airing both Hong Kong races on a two-hour tape-delay. To a degree, the tape-delay does not matter much given the races start at 07:00 UK time each day, and Channel 5 would argue that the audience demand to watch Formula E at that time is very small.

When Channel 5 committed to Formula E in 2016, they did so on the basis that every race would be live on television, but as fans saw Channel 5 broke that promise towards the end of season three. Channel 5 say that “some” races will air live on their station this season; just how many remains unclear. Vernon Kay replaces Andy Jaye as Channel 5’s lead presenter, steering the ship on-site from Hong Kong, although it feels rather moot to be on-site with tape-delayed coverage, but that is the situation Channel 5 have decided to proceed with.

Elsewhere, both Channel 4 and Sky are airing their Formula 1 season reviews this weekend, meaning that neither channel will be airing original F1 content over the festive period. Channel 4’s review will be voiced by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. The AUTOSPORT Awards return on Sunday with a new look. Under the ownership of Motorsport Network, out goes Steve Rider and in come Lee McKenzie and David Coulthard as presenters. Motorsport Network have collaborated with Velocity, part owned by Coulthard, on the revamp.

Formula E – Hong Kong (online via YouTube)
01/12 (Friday night)– 22:55 to 23:55 – Race 1, Practice 1
02/12 – 01:25 to 02:10 – Race 1, Practice 2
02/12 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Race 1, Qualifying
03/12 – 00:25 to 01:25 – Race 2, Practice
03/12 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Race 2, Qualifying

Formula E – Hong Kong
02/12 – 06:00 to 08:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport)
=> 06:00 to 06:45 – Qualifying [tape delay]
=> 06:45 to 08:00 – Race [live]
02/12 – 09:00 to 10:45 – Race 1 (Channel 5)
03/12 – 06:00 to 08:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
=> 06:00 to 06:45 – Qualifying [tape delay]
=> 06:45 to 08:00 – Race [live]
03/12 – 08:55 to 10:40 – Race 2 (Channel 5)

03/12 – 20:30 to 23:35
=> 20:30 – A Night of Stars: 30 Years of the AUTOSPORT Awards
=> 21:30 – Live Ceremony

Formula 1
03/12 – 00:30 to 01:00 – Nico Rosberg: My Life after F1 (BBC News)
=> repeated throughout the weekend
03/12 – 12:00 to 13:00 – 2017 Season Review (Sky Sports F1)
03/12 – 13:00 to 14:00 – 2017 Season Review (Channel 4)

World Touring Car Championship – Qatar (Eurosport 2)
01/12 – 11:30 to 13:00
=> 11:30 – Qualifying
=> 12:30 – MAC3 race
01/12 – 18:15 to 20:15
=> 18:15 – Race 1
=> 19:15 – Race 2

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

Scheduling: The 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The 2017 Formula One season concludes, as it has done since 2014, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The race will be notable for being, at least for the moment, the last race without the Halo closed cockpit solution, which comes into force from 2018.

Channel 4 and Sky are airing live coverage of the season finale, with both broadcasters supplementing their usual programming with special shows. Channel 4 have a Guy Martin special, as part of their ‘Rise of the Robots’ season. The episode features, amongst other robotic adventures, Martin challenging the Roboracer to a race around Silverstone. The broadcaster also continues their F1 Meets series, with David Coulthard interviewing Niki Lauda.

Sky will be airing the F1 Esports Final on Saturday evening as 20 racers battle it out to become the inaugural F1 Esports Champion. The event will also stream live across Facebook and Twitch. Sky are also showing a 30-minute behind the scenes special looking at how the Sauber team transports equipment around the world: from Spa to Monza and Singapore. This is an extension of a feature shown during the Singapore weekend, which is great to see.

With the championship battle over, BBC’s coverage is primarily on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra for the second race running.

Channel 4 F1
24/11 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
24/11 – 12:55 to 15:00 – Practice 2
25/11 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
25/11 – 11:55 to 14:45 – Qualifying
26/11 – 12:00 to 16:35 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
25/11 – 11:25 to 11:55 – F1 Meets… Niki Lauda
26/11 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Guy Martin vs the Robot Car

Sky Sports F1
24/11 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
24/11 – 12:45 to 14:50 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/11 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
25/11 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying
26/11 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
22/11 – 20:00 to 20:30 – F1 Special: The Race Between Races
22/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
23/11 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Driver Press Conference (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/11 – 17:00 to 17:15 – Paddock Uncut
24/11 – 15:30 to 16:30 – Team Press Conference
24/11 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The F1 Show
25/11 – 16:00 to 19:00 – Live F1 Esports Final
29/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
24/11 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/11 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/11 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/11 – 12:30 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Formula Two – Abu Dhabi (Sky Sports F1)
24/11 – 07:30 to 08:15 – Practice
24/11 – 15:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
25/11 – 14:40 to 15:45 – Race 1
26/11 – 10:10 to 11:15 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Abu Dhabi (Sky Sports F1)
24/11 – 11:10 to 11:45 – Qualifying
25/11 – 08:20 to 09:15 – Race 1
26/11 – 08:45 to 09:30 – Race 2

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Predicting the 2018 calendar pick order

Since The F1 Broadcasting Blog first appeared online in April 2012, a yearly piece during the Summer has been to ‘predict’ the calendar picks for both the UK free-to-air broadcaster and Sky Sports, with predictions made around which races the free-to-air channel will air live and which races will air in highlights form. The series of posts ends with the 2018 version, as from 2019 onwards Formula 1 will air exclusively live on Sky Sports.

The provisional calendar for the 2018 Formula One season, unveiled in June, features 21 races. The French Grand Prix is back on the calendar for the first time since 2008 as part of a triple-header of races. The German race makes its biannual return, whilst the calendar sadly does not feature the Malaysian Grand Prix. Of note also is that the Chinese and Singapore rounds of the championship are provisional and may disappear (now, that does not appear likely).

The calendar currently is as follows:

F1 2018 calendar

France takes the slot previously held by Baku, with Baku in turn sending Russia to fill the gap left by Malaysia. The rest of the calendar is again fairly static, with no sign of a shake up from Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media yet.

For the final time, the pick process goes as follows:

– Channel 4 pick three races (pick 1, 2 and 3)
– Sky pick three races (pick 4, 5 and 6)
– Channel 4 pick one race (pick 7)
– Sky pick one race (pick 8)

This continues until there are no races remaining. There are 21 races on the calendar, so Channel 4 will screen ten races live with Sky screening eleven races exclusively live. If a race disappears from the calendar, the picks do not change retrospectively. Germany was dropped from the 2015 calendar after BBC’s and Sky’s plans were publicly confirmed, but the picks stayed the same, meaning BBC were able to broadcast three races in a row live.

As with all even-numbered years, the summer of sport means a popular football competition, and in 2018 it is the turn of the World Cup. There are two dates to be aware of: the group stages with the French Grand Prix, and the round of 16 a week later with the Austrian Grand Prix. As usual, there are a few weekends where MotoGP and Formula 1 clash, the British round of the MotoGP season again falls on a Formula 1 weekend. The new Thailand MotoGP round will also clash with the Japanese Grand Prix, although there should not be a direct clash.

Channel 4 pick Britain, Abu Dhabi, and USA (pick 1 to 3). In the two years that Channel 4 have aired Formula 1, Canada has not been one of their races, with the broadcaster choosing Mexico in 2016 and USA in 2017. I thought Mexico in 2016 was a bit awkward for Channel 4, as the race finished just before 21:00, and they ended up rushing off-air, whereas USA blocks out all of primetime, meaning that there is more breathing room afterwards. Britain and Abu Dhabi as usual are the first two live picks for Channel 4, the former not clashing with either Wimbledon or the World Cup final. A slight aside to this: if the Wimbledon final does go beyond three sets, it will clash with the World Cup final on July 15th. The Wimbledon Men’s final usually starts at 14:00, with the football World Cup final starting at 16:00. I imagine the former will begin earlier, but it is astonishing that the planning so far has not prevented that from happening.

On the back of this, expect Sky to pick Canada, Mexico, and Brazil (pick 4 to 6). By picking USA, Channel 4 have essentially goaded Sky into picking Mexico and Brazil at an early stage. Failing to pick one or the other would result in Channel 4 having two big prime time races at the end of the season. Sky’s third pick would be Canada, which takes place the weekend before the World Cup begins so is in a good position on the calendar. Following the first six picks, the picks alternate for the remainder of the process. I would love to see Channel 4 pick Australia (pick 7), even I think it is highly unlikely. Australia has not aired live on free-to-air television since 2011, and arguably it may not make commercial sense for Channel 4 to air the race live as a higher proportion of viewers will be watching later in the day, depleting the number of viewers who will watch the adverts in full. So, this is more a ‘like to see’ pick more than anything.

With Monaco and Singapore both on the table, expect Sky to pick Singapore (pick 8) here. Singapore when live can rate higher than Monaco, in 2017, Singapore averaged half a million more viewers than Monte Carlo. Nevertheless, Monaco is still a race that can draw casual viewers. 2017 saw hot weather on Monaco race day which depleted viewership, but it can still rate highly on a good day, so I would expect Channel 4 to pick Monaco (pick 9).

We are left in this position:

March 25th – Australia (Melbourne) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 8th – China (Shanghai)
April 15th – Bahrain (Sakhir)
April 29th – Azerbaijan (Baku)
May 13th – Spain (Barcelona)
May 27th – Monaco (Monaco) – Channel 4 (pick 9)
June 10th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 4)
June 24th – France (Paul Ricard)
July 1st – Austria (Red Bull Ring)
July 8th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 22nd – Germany (Hockenheim)
July 29th – Hungary (Budapest)
August 26th – Belgium (Spa)
September 2nd – Italy (Monza)
September 16th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky (pick 8)
September 30th – Russia (Sochi)
October 7th – Japan (Suzuka)
October 21st – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
October 28th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Sky (pick 5)
November 11th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 6)
November 25th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

Bahrain is the best timeslot left, so expect Sky to pick Bahrain (pick 10), although there is the small matter of qualifying potentially overlapping with the Grand National. With Germany back in the picture, I would expect Channel 4 to pick Hungary (pick 11), meaning that the free-to-air broadcaster heads into the Summer break with a live race. Because of Channel 4 picking both Britain and Hungary, it means that Sky automatically get Germany (pick 21) to avoid Channel 4 airing three races in a row live. Sky picking Belgium (pick 12) follows with Channel 4 automatically getting Italy (pick 19).

2018 sees the French Grand Prix return to the calendar, and the free-to-air broadcaster has history of airing the first race at a new circuit live (Russia 2014 and Baku 2016 were both live on free-to-air). However, the return of the French round will directly clash with two games from the World Cup group stage in Group G. Two games in Group G kick off on the 23rd and 24th June at 13:00 BST / 15:00 MSK. I would therefore expect Channel 4 to pick Austria (pick 13), which in turn means that Sky automatically get France (pick 20). Channel 4 certainly do not want an F1 race that may end up clashing with an England game.

The schedule therefore looks like this:

March 25th – Australia (Melbourne) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 8th – China (Shanghai)
April 15th – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Sky (pick 10)
April 29th – Azerbaijan (Baku)
May 13th – Spain (Barcelona)
May 27th – Monaco (Monaco) – Channel 4 (pick 9)
June 10th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 4)
June 24th – France (Paul Ricard) – Sky (pick 20 – automatic)
July 1st – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Channel 4 (pick 13)
July 8th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 22nd – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky (pick 21 – automatic)
July 29th – Hungary (Budapest) – Channel 4 (pick 11)
August 26th – Belgium (Spa) – Sky (pick 12)
September 2nd – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 (pick 19 – automatic)
September 16th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky (pick 8)
September 30th – Russia (Sochi)
October 7th – Japan (Suzuka)
October 21st – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
October 28th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Sky (pick 5)
November 11th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 6)
November 25th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

Logically at this point, Sky may pick Azerbaijan. However, with Sky having already lost out on Australia, picking Azerbaijan means that they cannot pick China and Spain, leaving Channel 4 with a strong start to the season. So, a secondary domino effect starts here. Sky picking Spain (pick 14)Channel 4 automatically getting Azerbaijan (pick 17).

With only one lunch time race left, the logical option is for Channel 4 to pick Russia (pick 15), resulting in Sky automatically getting Japan (pick 18). The last race, China, as a result goes to Sky (pick 16).

Which leaves us with a final calendar of:

March 25th – Australia (Melbourne) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 8th – China (Shanghai) – Sky (pick 16)
April 15th – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Sky (pick 10)
April 29th – Azerbaijan (Baku) – Channel 4 (pick 17 – automatic)
May 13th – Spain (Barcelona) – Sky (pick 14)
May 27th – Monaco (Monaco) – Channel 4 (pick 9)
June 10th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 4)
June 24th – France (Paul Ricard) – Sky (pick 20 – automatic)
July 1st – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Channel 4 (pick 13)
July 8th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 22nd – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky (pick 21 – automatic)
July 29th – Hungary (Budapest) – Channel 4 (pick 11)
August 26th – Belgium (Spa) – Sky (pick 12)
September 2nd – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 (pick 19 – automatic)
September 16th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky (pick 8)
September 30th – Russia (Sochi) – Channel 4 (pick 15)
October 7th – Japan (Suzuka) – Sky (pick 18 – automatic)
October 21st – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
October 28th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Sky (pick 5)
November 11th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 6)
November 25th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

If there are any calendar changes, I will update this post as and when, otherwise we should find out the confirmed Channel 4 and Sky F1 picks close to Christmas or in early 2018, for the final time.