Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2017

2017 marks Formula 1’s sixth season with half of the races exclusively live on pay television in the United Kingdom, with this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix the first of ten races this year exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.

The cost of pay TV has been on the rise for years, an increase that is showing no signs of slowing down. This has led to Sky introducing the likes of Now TV, which aims to bring in a different type of customer. So, how much money do readers need to part company with to watch Sky Sports F1 in 2017?

The below information is primarily aimed at new customers on each of these platforms. As regular readers for these services will be aware, if you threaten to leave (otherwise known as ‘haggling’), expect Sky or Virgin to offer a cost reduction to secure your custom. This is not a guarantee, but likely if the pay TV company values your services, and if you have been a long-term customer. Note that all of the comparisons exclude double and triple play choices, such as phone and broadband deals.

Sky
This year, Sky customers have an extra mechanism of viewing Formula 1 content, thanks to the introduction of F1 in ultra-high definition through the Sky Q service. There should be three tiers: standard definition (SD), high-definition (HD) and ultra-high definition (UHD). However, the ultra-high definition option splices off into two sub categories.

Option SD
Sky Q 1TB Box
HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
UHD + SD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
UHD + HD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
Bundle – Original £22.00 £22.00
Bundle – Box Sets £38.00 £38.00
Bundle – Sky Sports £27.50 £27.50 £27.50 £27.50
Sky Sports HD Pack £6.00 £6.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £49.50 £71.50 £61.50 £83.50
Yearly Cost £594.00 £858.00 £738.00 £1,002.00
One-Off Installation Cost £15.00 £15.00 £60.00 £60.00
Yearly Cost £609.00 £873.00 £798.00 £1,062.00

There are a few points to note. There is still a distinction between standard definition and high-definition. The Original Bundle, Sky’s ‘entry level’ television package, does not give you access to Sky Sports content in high definition.

Not only does this require the consumer to upgrade from the Original Bundle to the Box Set Bundle (at a cost of £16.00 extra per month), but it also means that they need to pay a further £6.00 per month to view Sky Sports HD. At this stage, high-definition should be the ‘new norm’, but Sky still considers high definition a speciality from a pricing perspective.

A second point to note is that, to view content in ultra HD, customers require the Sky Q 2TB box and Sky Q Multiscreen, the latter of which is an extra £12.00 a month. The reason for the ultra HD option being split into two is because, having a Sky Q 2TB box does not give you access to HD content. As a result, you could find yourself watching Formula 1 sessions in ultra HD, but the rest of the channels’ content in standard definition. Unusually, this combination is cheaper than the all high-definition option, but that is likely a result of little ultra HD content currently available on Sky’s platform. Both the Sky standard and high definition options have increased by around £35.00 compared to last year.

I do not know how Liberty Media can influence Sky’s strategy, but in my opinion, a monthly cost of £49.50 to view every Formula 1 race is more than an average family could afford.

Virgin Media
The pricing for Virgin Media is simpler than Sky, but the raw pricing does not differ significantly.

Option SD
TiVo 500GB box
HD
TiVo 500GB box
Mix TV £20.00 £20.00
Sky Sports Collection £31.75 £31.75
Sky Sports HD Pack £7.00
Monthly Cost £51.75 £58.75
Yearly Cost £621.00 £705.00
One-Off Installation Cost £14.99 £14.99
Yearly Cost £635.99 £719.99

The entry-level Mix TV package is £20.00 (including the TiVo 500GB box). I should note that Virgin Media does offer a free Player TV package, however you are unable to combine this with the Sky Sports Collection.

The standard definition option ends up more expensive than the Sky equivalent, but the HD option is cheaper, simply because the base package is identical irrespective of the picture quality for Sky Sports. An extra £7.00 a month gets you Sky Sports in high-definition through Virgin Media, compared to a potential extra of £22.00 if you are with Sky.

Now TV
Outside of the traditional pay TV subscription, there is a cheaper option in the form of Now TV, also owned by Sky. There are three Now TV tiers for Sky Sports. The daily pass is £6.99, the weekly pass is £10.99 and the monthly pass is £33.99. However, the monthly pass is currently half price at £16.99 for a limited time only.

Based on the 2017 calendar, you can watch every race live by purchasing six monthly passes throughout the year:

– pass 1 can be used from March 24th to April 24th (Australia and China) – half price
– pass 2 can be used from May 11th to June 11th (Spain and Canada)
– pass 3 can be used from July 1st to August 1st (Austria and Hungary)
– pass 4 can be used from August 22nd to September 22nd (Italy)
– pass 5 can be used from October 1st to November 1st (Japan and Mexico)
– pass 6 can be used from November 1st to December 1st (Brazil)

The six Now TV monthly passes works out at a cost of £186.94 across the year. The cheaper option would be to purchase ten Now TV weekly passes, at a cost of £109.90 across the year. To further decrease the cost, if you just watched to watch the ten races that Channel 4 are not covering live, forgetting qualifying and extra material, you could purchase ten Now TV daily passes at a cost of £69.90 across the year. Personally, I think the weekly passes offer the best value for money and offer more flexibility. The reality is that there is not a one size fits all solution, and that you probably want to mix and match depending on your own circumstances.

Now TV is a great option if you want to dip in and out and do not want to watch Sky Sports all year round. If you do, the pricing mechanism is not much different to Sky or Virgin Media. As I have mentioned before, the daily pass should be priced lower.

Sky Sports Mobile TV
The last and cheapest option is Sky Sports Mobile TV for iPhone and Android users. Priced at £9.99 per month, six months in the same way as above works out at a nifty £59.95 across the year. There is a huge cost saving that can be made for consumers.

In summary, if you are a Formula 1 fan, here are the key numbers, including installation where applicable:

– £1,062.00 a year – Sky (UHD + HD other content)
– £873.00 a year – Sky (HD)
– £798.00 a year – Sky (UHD + SD other content)
– £719.99 a year – Virgin Media (HD)
– £635.99 a year – Virgin Media (SD)
– £609.00 a year – Sky (SD)
– £186.94 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 6)
– £109.90 – Now TV (Weekly Pass x 10)
– £69.90 – Now TV (Day Pass x 10)
– £59.95 – Sky Sports Mobile TV

The gulf between pay TV and ‘cord cutting’ methods, such as Now TV and Sky Sports Mobile TV is increasing by the year. In the future, there is a good chance that the F1 App will be added to the above list, in which consumers will start consuming things by individual sports as opposed to by broadcaster, but that is some years down the road yet in the UK at least.

Pricing and information correct as of March 24th, 2016. Pricing is subject to change.

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Flashback: 2012 Australian Grand Prix

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of The F1 Broadcasting Blog, we are looking back at five races from the archive and chewing over them. Being a broadcasting site, these races are not being analysed from a racing standpoint, but instead from a media perspective.

The five races include Grand Prix from the BBC and ITV eras, crossing over from the Americas, into Europe and Australia. Some races picked are your usual affair, whilst others have major significance in Formula 1 history. I did think about looking at five ‘major’ races, but each race has equal merit from a broadcasting standpoint, irrespective of how great the race was.

The fifth and final race of the initial series keeps us in Australia, for very good reason. The 2012 Australian Grand Prix marked the start of a brand new era in Formula 1 broadcasting and was, partly, one of the drivers behind this site starting one month later. The race was the first that Sky Sports F1 covered.

This piece gives us an opportunity not only to look back at how Sky’s coverage started, but also to see what has changed and evolved since their inaugural race five years ago. On track, the 2012 season saw six World Champions on the grid: Schumacher, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Alonso and Raikkonen. It was arguably the strongest field Formula 1 ever had. The key broadcast details can be found below:

  • Date: Sunday 18th March 2012
  • Channel: Sky Sports F1
  • Time: 04:30 to 09:15
  • Presenter: Simon Lazenby
  • Presenter: Georgie Thompson
  • Reporter: Ted Kravitz
  • Presenter: Natalie Pinkham
  • Commentator: David Croft
  • Commentator / Analyst: Martin Brundle
  • Analyst: Damon Hill
  • Analyst: Anthony Davidson

It was a stacked line-up to begin Sky’s coverage. Five out of the eight people listed above defected from the BBC, two of the eight were internal to Sky, whilst Damon Hill was the only person making a return to the TV broadcasting scene, having previously been part of F1 Digital+ in 2002. Sky’s Formula 1 channel launched on Friday 9th March, with a live studio show, followed by the Australian weekend one week later.

Pre-Race

Sky used stylish VTs in the opening minutes to cover the past greats for newer fans of the sport who may not be aware of the sport’s legacy. The channel set the scene for the season ahead; introducing fans to the various methods of watch Sky’s Formula 1 coverage, making it clear that they intend to cover the sport from all angles. Presenter Simon Lazenby introduced viewers to the rest of the team, with the crew stationed around Albert Park. Anthony Davidson and Georgie Thompson are in the Sky Pad, Ted Kravitz in pit lane and Natalie Pinkham in the paddock.

2012 Australian GP - grid graphics
Sky’s qualifying grid graphics following their qualifying report.

Following the qualifying wrap-up is a discussion about HRT’s abysmal performance, the team having failed to make the 107 percent rule. Martin Brundle in particular was scathing of his assessment of them. Further discussion follows about the Mercedes concerning that innovative ‘F Duct’.

One feature that was prominent during the build-up was the usage of live driver interviews from the paddock. Our first is with Williams driver Pastor Maldonaldo (the timing of which slightly amused me given that it directly followed some promotion for Sky’s Legends of F1 series). Nevertheless, it is a good interview with comment given on his live qualifying performance. A paddock interview with Romain Grosjean followed later in the pre-race broadcast. It is not clear whether these interviews are actually live, the impression is that they are, but the timing is slightly suspect as Grosjean is not in his race gear at this stage.

However, if it makes for a more compact show, I am all for that approach. My only criticism of these is that the interviews are brief, which is unfortunate. There are more in-depth pit lane interviews with Christian Horner and Martin Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh says that the tyres look better which may “detract from the show and the challenge”, Whitmarsh also commenting on the relationship between Hamilton and Button in their third season.

The Sky Pad segments are infrequent throughout the build-up, with Davidson and Thompson housed inside a miniature studio, making them feel detached from the rest of the programme. Neither Sky Pad segment is in great depth, showing that Sky did not know how to best utilise the tool at this stage, but this is very early in its development cycle. The analysis itself was great, with Davidson on top form already.

In 90 minutes time with the world watching with bated breath those five red lights will go out and the 2012 Formula One season will have begun. Many are saying it’s the greatest field ever assembled. Six world champions they and the rest of the grid gunning for one thing. To be called the best driver on the planet. – Sky presenter Simon Lazenby introducing the programme

Thompson introduced us to the track walk with Brundle and Hill focussing on the key parts of the circuit. Again, this feature shows off Sky’s virtual graphics (courtesy of New Zealand company Virtual Eye). The show flows well at this point, with Kravitz next up talking about the various strategies that could play out during the Grand Prix. Brundle notes that the tyres look a “bit too good and durable to me!”

Unlike the ITV races we have previously covered, there is a lot of ‘still to come’ and ‘coming up’ in Sky’s initial broadcast, with extensive promotion of Sky’s new ‘Legends of F1’ series and paid advertising from Hilton Honours leading in and out of adverts, along with Brundle’s Ferrari feature receiving attention. There is too much filler leading in and out of commercial breaks, resulting in shorter paddock discussion.

The Brundle piece at Ferrari’s Fiorano base featured contributions from John Surtees, Nigel Mansell and from Stefano Domenicalli. The feature was promoted too much by Sky, meaning that the viewer expected more than what was aired during the programme. As a feature, it was good but not memorable. Arguably, this segment should have been a standalone 30-minute programme in its own right. As Brundle said moments after the VT aired, he ran at Fiorano for 40 laps, so we should have seen a greater depth of footage instead of small snippets.

2012 Australian GP - Sky Pad
Anthony Davidson and Georgie Thompson overseeing the Sky Pad. Note the amount of white space…

On the other side of the break, there is a second recap of the grid, but the top ten this time is presented in a different format to previously with focus on the individual drivers, going from 10th to 1st using virtual animations. Brundle’s first grid interview is with the youngest driver on the grid, rookie Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

The grid walk shows off how vibrant Formula 1 is, helped by the sunshine and blue skies beaming down onto the circuit. It is a great grid walk, with various voices heard from celebrities to drivers and onto the pit crew, from Leo Sayer through to Ciaron Pilbeam. The grid walk was unrestricted by the national anthem at quarter to the hour; drivers back in 2012 were not required to walk to the front of the grid. Thompson takes viewers through the various viewing options, with Sky Race Control available through the Red Button, iPad and online. There are a few interviews in pit lane before a further Sky Pad bit with Thompson and Davidson, and then, it is race time!

Race
One of Sky’s early changes was to show key interview snippets in a picture-in-picture format during the warm-up lap, I cannot remember whether Sky dropped this after the first race though.

Brundle and David Croft handled the start sequence well, with a lot of energy on display throughout a frantic opening phase of the Grand Prix. We also saw one of the classic Brundle phrases in relation to Sebastian Vettel, as the German fought his way past Nico Rosberg at turn nine, “and that’s the man they said can’t race in Formula 1, he can only win from the front apparently, I don’t think so!” Moments later, Maldondo successfully overtook Grosjean, but ended up whacking the Lotus in the process, eliminating the French driver from the race.

2012 Australian GP - Ricciardo helmet cam
Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo finds himself with a face full of Bruno Senna’s Williams.

FOM caught the majority of drama, but the opening laps also shows why you cannot be trigger-happy with replays in the early phases. Nevertheless, the replays did help to show what unfolded in the second half of the field at the start. The on-board footage, notably from the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, showed how badly the Pirelli tyres were to handle towards the end of a stint, as showcased on various occasions with drivers struggling with understeer and oversteer. The on-board of Vettel also captured Schumacher heading off the circuit and into retirement.

The only commentary bugbear, which became clear early on, was a Sauber and Williams misidentification. Other than that, commentary was good, and more importantly, Croft and Brundle gelled, doing well to keep on top of the changing order during the pit stop phases. There was a ‘talk too much’ tendency at times more so in the early laps, but this brews back to Croft’s 5 Live days, radio commentary and television commentary are two different beasts, and it takes time to transition from one to the other.

I forgot how good this race was, to be honest! Australia’s Melbourne circuit has always shown off the speed of the cars, and this race is no exception as Button streaks off up front with Hamilton behind.

2012 Australian GP - helicopter.png
The helicopter shots at Melbourne: a beautiful picturesque scene panning over the Melbourne skyline, whilst also helping to show the various gaps during the first pit stop sequence.

The focus is on Sauber’s Sergio Perez, attempting a one-stop strategy against a two-stop strategy for the other leading runners. The artificial DRS overtakes do not detract from Perez’s brilliant race, which Brundle and Croft sell brilliantly.  At this point, Pinkham also gets a paddock interview with John Button, which is unfortunate timing as the Sauber of Kobayashi and Raikkonen bang wheels in a clean fight.

The longer this race lasts, the more I realise how weird the FOM graphics set looks from an alignment perspective. The graphics set is not 4:3 safe, nor are they fully 16:9 centric. It is a halfway house to appease both the old and new worlds. However, the graphics are more informative: the ‘ticker’ at the bottom of the screen helps decipher the gaps between various drivers, which becomes critical during the pit stop periods. FOM also use a ‘Previous Gaps’ graphics regularly to show the variation, as Jenson Button increases his lead over Lewis Hamilton up front.

Petrov’s stranded Caterham on the start-finish straight causes a Safety Car immediately after both McLaren’s pit. Vettel jumps up to second after his pit stop as a result with Maldonaldo exiting just behind Alonso.

I might be alone in this, but I don’t like this rule. It’s the luck of the draw, if the leaders have to get through some backmarkers on the restart, so what. They’re the best drivers in the world, let’s see them negotiating them. I think we should get rid of blue flags, you’ll hear me say that once every three races, passing backmarkers is a core skill of being a racing driver. We’ve wasted a lap, we should be racing now. – Brundle on the lapped cars may now overtake rule.

Attention focuses on the battle between Vettel and Hamilton for second, as Massa and Senna collide in an extremely clumsy accident. “At least it’s not Hamilton he’s crashing into this year,” jokes Croft. The two Red Bull cars separate Hamilton’s McLaren, as Brundle and Croft remind viewers of Webber’s difficult start to the race. There are several stories still unfolding in the last few laps, with drivers scrapping over the last few points.

Regrettably for Maldonaldo, having had his performance praised by Brundle and Croft throughout, the commentators’ curse strikes on the last lap, crashing out of fifth position. “It is Button’s day down under!” Croft declares. Behind the leaders is a mess, with cars moving positions both on and off the circuit. The FOM replays just about pick up what happened, which was very difficult with a lot going on in the background!

Post-Race
Under the Melbourne sunset, Button, Hamilton and Vettel take to the podium to celebrate the start of the 2012 season. Hill’s comments about McLaren are quite sad now given their current predicament, Hill referring to their “technical expertise”, also noting, “When they’re down, they get back up”. The first post-race interview is with John Button, describing his son’s win as “an incredible start to the season”.

2012 Australian GP - Button
Winner.

Lazenby covers Sky’s Malaysian Grand Prix programming, including the GP2 Series before heading off for the first ad-break. Lazenby and Hill analyse the race with Whitmarsh, although it turns into more of a chat, with Hill and Whitmarsh bouncing thoughts off one another, which makes for great television I feel.

Some interviews from Pinkham in the pen are aired next, starting with Mark Webber in fourth position. We start to move towards the more relaxed setting of the paddock, as Lazenby covers the various ways to contact the team, including Twitter and e-mail (no #AskCrofty back then). The McLaren theme continues, with a brief VT covering Button’s key moments, although it does not amount to much as his race was relaxed! Some of the discussion that follows does ramble a little bit with it being ad-lib, but overall it is good post-race discussion. Brundle is holding the show together and at times appears to lead the questioning.

This year is a very special year in Formula 1, last year was also having five world champions, but having six world champions and so many competitive teams, it’s good to see that Formula 1 is in a great place right now and it’s a great sport to be a part of – McLaren’s Jenson Button speaking in the post-race press conference

The rest of the post-race broadcast follows a similar structure, with ample discussion given to Red Bull, Lotus and Williams, the team conducting interviews with Christian Horner, Eric Boullier and Adam Parr respectively. All three interviews are structurally similar, touching on the various sporting and technical elements for each team, including the blown diffuser ban in relation to Red Bull. Sky did not air any FOM material during these interviews, meaning that the paddock analysis suffered as a result.

Thompson and Davidson in the Sky Pad covered the analysis, analysing the start and then the Maldonaldo and Grosjean incident later on. It is clear that, like in the pre-show earlier, Sky were unclear on how to integrate the Sky Pad segments into the overall package, something that they have worked to perfect. Intertwined in this was further pen interviews with both McLaren drivers and a paddock walk with comment given on Sauber’s strong performance.

Attention turns back to pit lane as Sky’s team assemble around the McLaren garage to wrap up the show under the Melbourne sunset. Viewers are shown tweets on-screen, which is followed by a final word with Button. Four and a half hours after Sky’s programme started with Just Drive, it is left for Insomnia’s Faithless to play out coverage of Sky’s inaugural Formula 1 race.

Scheduling: The 2017 Australian Grand Prix / Qatar MotoGP

A changing of the guard has occurred in Formula 1 over the winter. A champion retired on top of the world. A mass-media corporation ousted an elder statesman, who grappled with the sport for a lifetime. The machinery has become faster, louder and maybe even sexier.

The Formula 1 roadshow that greets us next weekend for the Australian Grand Prix is a significantly different one to the one that left us last November in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, for everything that changes, some aspects remain the same.

Channel 4 and Sky Sports have retained broadly the same line-up as last season. Steve Jones will continue to lead Channel 4’s line-up, with the likes of David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Karun Chandhok providing analysis. Over on Sky, Simon Lazenby begins their sixth season of covering Formula 1 as presenter, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill are nearby as always in the wings.

The major change for Sky this season is that former Williams technical director Pat Symonds will provide commentary on a number of races alongside Brundle and David Croft. It will be interesting to see how Sky uses Symonds during the race itself, whether they will use him throughout the race or in the quieter phases only.

Over on the BBC, Jack Nicholls returns as 5 Live lead commentator with Allan McNish, Tom Clarkson, Jennie Gow and Mark Gallagher again completing their line-up. Nicholls will miss the Hungarian round this season due to his Formula E commitments. On the scheduling front, note that Friday’s timings are half an hour earlier than previous years, so practice one starts at 01:00 UK time, whilst Sky’s weekend coverage is simulcast on Sky Sports 1. For those with ultra HD, F1 will be available in 4K for the first time through Sky Q.

MotoGP also makes its return next weekend, with Channel 5 providing highlights on Monday evenings, replacing ITV4 in this respect. BT Sport will continue to cover the championship live, with Suzi Perry presenting live for 11 of the 18 races including the opening race of the season in Qatar. Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder will again be covering commentary this season, whilst the likes of Gavin Emmett and Neil Hodgson will be down in pit lane.

NOTE: Clocks go forward one hour on Sunday 26th March, with the change from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time. The times listed are for GMT on Saturday and before; BST for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4
Sessions
25/03 – 13:00 to 14:50 – Qualifying Highlights
26/03 – 14:00 to 16:40 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
24/03 – 00:30 to 02:45 – Practice 1
24/03 – 04:45 to 06:55 – Practice 2
25/03 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Practice 3
25/03 – 05:00 to 07:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
26/03 – 04:30 to 09:10 – Race (also Sky Sports 1)
=> 04:30 – Track Parade
=> 05:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 05:30 – Race
=> 08:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
22/03 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Report: Australia Preview
23/03 – 04:00 to 04:30 – Driver Press Conference
23/03 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Australia
24/03 – 07:00 to 07:30 – Team Press Conference
24/03 – 07:30 to 08:00 – The F1 Show
29/03 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Report: Australia Review

BBC F1
Sessions
21/03 – 20:30 to 21:30 – Preview, Part 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview, Part 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
24/03 – 00:55 to 02:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
24/03 – 04:55 to 06:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/03 – 02:55 to 04:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/03 – 05:55 to 07:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/03 – 05:00 to 08:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Supplementary Programming
20/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Crash and Burn: The Story of Tommy Byrne (BBC One Northern Ireland)
=> also 27/03 at 21:00 on BBC Four

MotoGP – Qatar (BT Sport 2)
23/03 – 14:00 to 19:45
=> 14:00 – Preview
=> 15:00 – Practice
24/03 – 14:45 to 18:45 – Practice
25/03 – 14:30 to 18:30 – Qualifying
26/03 – 13:45 to 21:00 – Races
=> 13:45 – Warm Ups
=> 15:30 – Moto3
=> 17:15 – Moto2
=> 18:45 – MotoGP
=> 20:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Qatar (Channel 5)
27/03 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

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

Scheduling: The 2017 Barcelona test 2 on Sky Sports F1

Formula 1 is very quickly heading towards Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, but before then there is the small matter of the final test in Barcelona.

Sky Sports F1 will again have a 15-minute round-up on each of the four days, this time with Rachel Brookes presenting for Sky Sports News. David Croft returns with #AskCrofty at 21:15 on each day. There is also a 30-minute F1 Report special looking back at testing.

Elsewhere, although I am not restarting the scheduling pieces properly until the end of the month, I should note that the IndyCar Series returns next Sunday (12th March). Live coverage of the first race from the streets of St. Petersburg airs on BT Sport//ESPN from 16:30 to 19:00.

Tuesday 7th March
21:00 to 21:45 – Day 1 Highlights
– round-up at 21:00
– #AskCrofty at 21:15

Wednesday 8th March
20:15 to 21:00 – Day 1 Highlights (R)
21:00 to 21:45 – Day 2 Highlights
– round-up at 21:00
– #AskCrofty at 21:15

Thursday 9th March
20:15 to 21:00 – Day 2 Highlights (R)
21:00 to 21:45 – Day 3 Highlights
– round-up at 21:00
– #AskCrofty at 21:15

Friday 10th March
20:15 to 21:00 – Day 3 Highlights (R)
21:00 to 21:45 – Day 4 Highlights
– round-up at 21:00
– #AskCrofty at 21:15

Saturday 11th March
20:00 to 20:30 – F1 Report

If anything changes, the above schedule will be updated.

Update on March 11th – I know that test two has already happened, but I’m not in a position to publish the Australia schedule yet. So a note that there will be an F1 Report Development Special on Wednesday 15th March at 20:00 with Natalie Pinkham alongside Mike Gascoyne and Craig Scarborough. Tonight’s special for those wondering will be David Croft alongside Chris Medland and Jon Noble.

Pat Symonds joins Sky’s F1 team

Pat Symonds has joined Sky’s Formula 1 team for the 2017 season, the broadcaster has confirmed.

Symonds, who previously worked as Chief Technical Officer at Williams and Renault, joins Sky’s line up which remains unchanged. Sky say he will provide commentary alongside Martin Brundle and David Croft on a number of races including the Australian Grand Prix.

Sky Sports Head of F1, Martin Turner said: “Pat will make a brilliant addition to our team, bringing a wealth of experience to Sky Sports F1. His knowledge, expertise and passion will add another dimension to our analysis and enhance the viewing experience for fans as they seek to understand the new cars and regulations. In this era of Formula 1 there is no-one better to explain it.”

Pat Symonds commented: “I have always been impressed with the quality and innovation of Sky’s F1 coverage. It feels like a really exciting time to join the team ahead of such an unpredictable season and with all races being shown in UHD, it will be even more visually dramatic at every turn.”

Symonds is an excellent technical addition to Sky’s team and further bolsters their line-up. It is a natural growth step and helps differentiate Sky from Channel 4, who does not have a dedicated technical expect. Further details were confirmed about Sky’s coverage this season in a Facebook Live session. Natalie Pinkham noted that she would be travelling to all the European rounds, with Rachel Brookes covering the flyaway races and Azerbaijan for the channel.

In addition, Anthony Davidson confirmed his own commitments. He said, “I’m only doing five races this year, the first of which will be Barcelona. The World Endurance Championship clashes with so many F1 races and the ones that don’t directly clash, it’s like an ‘in between’ weekend of two F1 races so you have to look at the calendar. You have to be realistic and think about how burnt out you are going to be. In the first year when WEC grew in 2013, I had committed to doing 15 races with Sky, it almost killed me, you’ve got to be careful with how you manage it.”