Flashback: 1997 Spanish Grand Prix

2017 marks twenty years since ITV’s Formula 1 coverage first hit our television screens. Their inaugural season covering the sport was a roller-coaster ride, with the championship battle between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher going down to the wire in Jerez.

Here, we turn our attention to the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix, which marked round six of the championship. Through the early fly-away races, the season had been a very competitive affair, dominated by the tyre war between Goodyear and Bridgestone. The previous round in Monaco saw Schumacher dominate in the pouring rain. Would Villeneuve be able to bounce back in Catalunya?

At this point in proceedings, ITV’s coverage was beginning to gel together into a cohesive unit. Here is how the team lined up for the weekend:

  • Date: Sunday 25th May 1997
  • Time: 12:35 to 15:10
  • Presenter: Jim Rosenthal
  • Reporter: Louise Goodman
  • Reporter: James Allen
  • Commentator: Murray Walker
  • Commentator: Martin Brundle
  • Analyst: Tony Jardine
  • Analyst: Simon Taylor

In the early years, ITV’s build-up for the European rounds would typically last around 25 minutes, expanding into the early 2000s to the typical one-hour length that we currently see for live free-to-air broadcasts.

After an opening interlude from Jim Rosenthal highlighting Schumacher’s Monaco success, Jamiroquai plays in ITV’s F1 coverage. We are straight into a qualifying wrap up, with Louise Goodman providing voice over. It is a quick-fire round-up, no fancy graphics or music, just Goodman narrating with Walker providing the commentary over the key bits. The grid graphics (more fancy for 1997!) follow on.

1997 Spanish GP - ITV's grid graphics
ITV’s grid graphics for the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix.

Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve gives his post-qualifying opinion to James Allen, describing his last lap as “near perfection”. All the above occurring within the first five minutes, unsurprising when there is not much build-up time to play with for ITV.

The studio atmosphere between Rosenthal, Taylor and Jardine is good (there is enough time to mention Taylor’s seasickness from Monaco, for example!). ITV strike the right tone, with discussion varying from personality driven to one of a technical nature.

A feature of ITV’s coverage from day one was an on-board lap of the circuit, but in 1997 this took the form of a virtual tour. The channel used an early version of the F1 1997 PlayStation game for the virtual lap, with Martin Brundle narrating. There are no additional features during the build-up, with the remainder of time allotted to covering grid interviews and studio chat.

Allen and Goodman provided the grid interviews, interviewing Damon Hill, Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and Jean Alesi. Studio chatter interspersed the interviews, but this did not work well, and you can quickly see why ITV introduced a grid walk later in the season. Whilst the studio segments are good, you do not get a sense of the atmosphere building, in the same way you do in later years with the grid walk format that Brundle made popular.

Nevertheless, the studio discussion does produce some excellent technical conversation tailored to the casual fan, with Taylor dissecting why Ferrari are struggling around the Barcelona circuit.

JR: Again, for those coming to grips with the world of Formula 1, why should the Ferrari win in Monaco, which I know was a very different sort of circuit, and you say now this place just doesn’t suit them at all, with all the testing, all the money, with all the things like that.

ST: The real problem here in Barcelona is long, fast corners. And if you have a car that understeers, that’s a car that wants to go straight on in a fast corner, then you won’t get a good time. That’s Ferrari’s problem, they can’t get the grip in the long, fast corners. They can get the grip in the tight turns of Monaco. Here, it is very abrasive, they’re worried about tyre wear particularly on the front left tyre. So, it’s not looking good for Ferrari, but you can never discount them.

We see the championship standings much closer to the race start than usual instead of at the start of the broadcast, in the context of Benetton’s disappointing year so far following Alesi’s grid interview.

There is no batting around the bush about what to expect for the race, with Walker calling Villeneuve the “hot favourite” for the Grand Prix. The five minutes before the race are great from the local host director, as there is a take on Formula E’s segway with the camera man focusing on each car one by one, which is a nice touch. During the segway, Walker mentions the driver change at Sauber, Gianni Morbidelli replacing Nicola Larini.

In 1997, the Barcelona circuit was one of the newer races on the calendar, then in its seventh season nevertheless the crowd, whilst smaller than other races, is still a healthy number. Ralf Schumacher stalled his Jordan car at the first start, resulting in an aborted start. At this stage, Walker and Brundle have access to team radio information from the Jordan team, with material relayed back to the viewers. An abandoned start is a good thing for viewers at this stage, as it meant that ITV could take an advert break without ‘losing’ any laps, meaning that the first 19 laps were live and uninterrupted.

1997 Spanish GP - on-board Coulthard
On-board with David Coulthard’s McLaren as he hunts down the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher.

Whilst the pre-race angles on the grid were good, the first lap was a mess from the local director. Multiple camera operators were far too slow to respond to the cars, resulting in cameras that panned to action half way through the field instead of the action up front. We can just about pick out, as does Walker, the “meteoric” start from Schumacher’s Ferrari, although Walker does make it sound better than it was, which Brundle points out half way round lap two! (Stating he started 9th and not 7th). The replays do make up for the host directors’ inefficiencies, with a helicopter replay, and a replay showing on-board footage of Schumacher’s start, which is amazing to watch and decipher.

The early laps are close between the front-runners, the excitement in Walker’s voice is loud and clear, even if Brundle proclaims that Villeneuve will “run and hide”. The attention is on the battle between Schumacher and Coulthard, with a queue quickly developing. Walker covers the rest of the action as best as he can at that phase in the Grand Prix, but the director is right to focus on the growing train behind the leading Ferrari.

It is a tyre dependent formula, which explains and justifies ITV’s pre-race stance to explain this element adequately to viewers. The local Formula One Management director uses helicopter shots to show the growing gap between Villeneuve and Schumacher. Coulthard finally makes the move before his first of three stops. ITV use James Allen during the pit stop sequence, pointing out a near collision between Schumacher and Benetton’s Gerhard Berger in the pit lane.

Damon Hill is in fifth position! Damon Hill in the Arrows Yamaha is higher than he has ever been this season, a terrific performance, whatever reason. Some of it of course will be due to the fact that people have been in for tyres and he hasn’t. Villeneuve leads, Alesi is in second position… and Hill stops! Ohh… as I say it. That is six races and six failures for Damon Hill. And even his patience and tolerance must be severely tested. – Murray Walker with the commentators’ curse

Villeneuve’s performance with one less stop is dominant. On return from the first break Rosenthal hands us over to Simon Taylor who covers Alesi’s first stop ‘as live’ (which occurred during the commercial break), before handing back to Walker, a neat move as he moved in front of Ferrari’s Schumacher. Through the first pit stop sequence and Villeneuve’s different strategy, Coulthard has closed in on Villeneuve with the gap down to three seconds, whilst Panis on the Bridgestone tyres in third before pitting.

Our TV director missed Alesi and Schumacher passing Hakkinen, instead cutting to Frentzen pitting despite the German driver being out of contention at this phase in the race. Walker and Brundle continue to bring into play the tyre situation, noting that blistering is a factor and that the Goodyear tyres are “too soft” for this race track. There is limited coverage of runners below sixth place, beyond the pit stop sequences, just one of ways that the feed became diluted in the late 1990s compared to the F1 Digital+ service that was starting across Europe. However, the gaps throughout the field are marginal meaning we see the likes of Johnny Herbert’s Sauber running in 4th place briefly, Walker describing it as an “interesting and exciting race.”

A lot of pit stop strategies have gone completely out of the window this afternoon. And as we look out of our commentary box window itself, there seem to be as many cars coming down the pit lane as down the pit straight! – ITV co-commentator Martin Brundle

The tyre war theme continues into the second half of the Grand Prix as Panis on Bridgestone tyres overtakes Coulthard’s McLaren on Goodyear tyres for third position (a beautiful helicopter shot at this moment showing Panis move ahead), Panis then comfortably pulling away from the McLaren! Clearly a Prost car overtaking a McLaren was previously unheard of, but made possible because of the 1997 formula, Walker notes that all the races so far in 1997 have been tyre dominated. Brundle seems in almost shock regurgitating to viewers that Coulthard may end up on a “four stop strategy” as ITV head to a further break. The differing strategies raises the prospect of Panis winning the race thanks to his lightning pace.

1997 Spanish GP - best vs last lap
A graphic I like in the tyre dominated formula: ‘Best Lap vs Last Lap’ time comparison helps show if a drivers’ tyres have hit the cliff.

Once the leading runners pit, the order is Villeneuve, Panis, Alesi and Schumacher. ITV take their last break with 12 laps to go, and on their return the battle for first is a battle for second between Panis, Alesi and Schumacher, thanks to backmarkers failing to move over, with Alesi gesticulating repeatedly to the marshals. Panis does close in on Villeneuve again near to the end, but Brundle clearly annoyed in commentary at how long it took Panis to clear the traffic, leaving Villeneuve to win the Grand Prix.

Like at the start, the host director struggles at the end as Villeneuve tours back to the pit lane, missing Johnny Herbert overtaking Coulthard’s McLaren on the last lap. Brundle brutal in his assessment that the local director has missed “just about everything else” this weekend.

ITV stick with the podium without going to an advert break. The process from parc ferme to the podium itself appears to be a lot quicker than it is now. Following the Canadian and British national anthems, it is time for the obligatory champagne! An all French-speaking podium, which might be a rare occasion.

1997 Spanish GP - ITV studio
ITV’s pundits dissect the race.

We see the classifications rundown again, as Walker outlines the key achievements including a 1-3 for Renault and a strong performance for Prost. Walker also compliments Goodyear’s 350th win against the onslaught of Bridgestone (who were successful in CART), saying “heaven knows where Grand Prix racing would be if it wasn’t for Goodyear.” This is to a degree to fill time before the press conference, ITV airing it live instead of switching back to the studio for initial post-race analysis.

At the start of the analysis, Rosenthal made it clear that the three post-race interviews would be with Patrick Head, Johnny Herbert, and Michael Schumacher. The three main subjects as a result are Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s poor performance (which the consensus is that it was not his fault, but instead a result of poor set-up) and Schumacher’s brilliant start which Jardine analyses.

The last interview with a happy Herbert, describing how his tyres got better with each set, which led into a studio discussion about the scrap involving Schumacher and Coulthard during the first phase of the Grand Prix. There is not much else covered, aside from the promos for other events, all that is left is for Rosenthal to publicise the Canadian Grand Prix and to wrap up proceedings in Spain.


Scheduling: The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix / Monaco ePrix

The Formula 1 paddock moves into Europe for round five of the 2017 Formula One season, the Spanish Grand Prix. The weekend’s action will be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with highlights airing each evening on Channel 4.

Anthony Davidson will be back with Sky Sports for the Spanish round of the season. As announced pre-season, Davidson will be with the team for five races this year. Elsewhere, the Formula E championship returns with round five from Monaco. Martin Haven will be back in the commentary box as Jack Nicholls will be covering the Formula 1 action for BBC Radio 5 Live. Haven will be alongside Bob Varsha and Mike Conway as Dario Franchitti is stateside for the Indianapolis 500 build-up. The electric championship speeds up now with eight races taking place in the next two and a half months!

Also in action, next weekend is IndyCar action from the Indianapolis road course, whilst the World Superbike riders will be at Imola.

Channel 4 F1
13/05 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
14/05 – 18:45 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
12/05 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
12/05 – 12:45 to 14:50 – Practice 2
13/05 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
13/05 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying
14/05 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
10/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
11/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
12/05 – 01:30 to 01:45 – Paddock Uncut
12/05 – 17:35 to 18:15 – Team Press Conference – to be confirmed
12/05 – 18:15 to 18:45 – The F1 Show – to be confirmed
17/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
11/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/05 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/05 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/05 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/05 – 12:30 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Formula Two – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
12/05 – 11:00 to 11:45 – Practice
12/05 – 14:55 to 15:25 – Qualifying
13/05 – 14:35 to 15:45 – Race 1
14/05 – 09:30 to 10:25 – Race 2

Formula E – Monaco (online via Channel 5’s social media channels and YouTube)
13/05 – 06:55 to 07:55 – Practice 1
13/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Monaco
13/05 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Qualifying (Spike)
13/05 – 14:30 to 16:15 – Race (Channel 5)

Formula V8 3.5 – Monza (BT Sport 3)
13/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1
14/05 – 10:30 to 12:00 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
13/05 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
13/05 – 16:10 to 17:00 – Race 1
14/05 – 08:20 to 09:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series  Grand Prix of Indianapolis (BT Sport 2)
14/05 – 20:30 to 23:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup  Spain
13/05 – 17:15 to 18:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
14/05 – 10:30 to 11:30 – Race 2 (Eurosport 1)

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland (BT Sport 3)
13/05 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

World Rallycross Championship – Belgium (Motorsport.tv)
14/05 – 13:00 to 14:55 – Race

World Superbikes – Imola
13/05 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
14/05 – 10:00 to 15:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
16/05 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As mentioned, once Sky’s schedules are in shape, I will update the above information.

Update on May 9th – I have had confirmation from Sky that their original schedules were incorrect. Sky will not be broadcasting the Porsche Supercup series and GP3 practice live, so exactly the same as previous years. I have also amended the Formula E commentary line-up – Dario Franchitti is in fact stateside and not covering the event.

A catalyst for change?

Fernando Alonso’s testing and rookie orientation day in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 later this month has drawn attention from far and wide. His orientation day has also reignited the debate about whether there is value in covering testing live.

From the outset, the circumstances around Alonso’s IndyCar appearance are unique, in a situation unlikely to be repeated. A peak of around 72,000 devices watched Alonso’s orientation via YouTube, with the stream provided by the IndyCar Series consistently above 40,000 devices.

Furthermore, IndyCar streamed the event via Facebook to a reach of 800,000 users. Other forms of motor racing, such as Formula E, have struggled to break through live streaming barriers on YouTube. The numbers recorded for Alonso’s orientation are staggering, especially considering that this was a weekday event.

There is a great deal motor racing can learn from this, not just Formula 1 but also other forms of the sport. Watching cars drive around a track, essentially collecting data, for hours at a time may seem like a useless activity for much of the population to watch.

The actual process of testing doesn’t have the intensity. It is much more difficult to understand because different people are doing different things. Testing highlights are really interesting, live coverage of testing is really, really boring. – MotoGP journalist David Emmett speaking to me last year.

Dorna broadcasts MotoGP testing live from Valencia post-season and Sepang pre-season via their app, combining ‘as live’ footage with studio discussion. Sky Sports F1 aired Formula 1 testing live in 2013, although this was shoe-horned around the 3D gimmick that never went any further.

The argument against live testing is that the cost is too high and the expected audience is too low. Setting up a full camera crew at say Barcelona requires a lot more people than the Indianapolis oval. For Dorna, cameras are already in Valencia following their season finale a few days earlier, so it makes logistical sense to cover the post-season test in an in-depth format.

Alonso’s Indy 500 test is the first time that testing, in any form, has aired live via outlets such as YouTube and Facebook in this live and raw form. Firstly, I absolutely applaud IndyCar and those involved from McLaren through to NBC for making this happen. The stream today allowed new fans to appreciate the demands of oval racing.

Discussions between Alonso and his mechanics were broadcast, with an openness displayed throughout. In comparison, during Formula 1 testing, the prying media have no access to drivers’ conversations with mechanics. To broadcast F1 testing in the same way as Alonso’s IndyCar test would require a significant culture change for teams up and down the pit lane.

Imagine Lewis Hamilton testing new parts on his Mercedes, and then openly giving feedback on camera in front of his mechanics instead of behind closed doors, with microphones picking up his every word. Whilst fascinating to those watching, the information provided would also be golden to his rivals.

Broadcasting testing live via social media would help viewers and fans of the sport appreciate the intrinsic nature of testing. It may bring new fans to the sport, if they stumble across live testing and become captivated by the nature of it, in the same way fans were captivated by the stream today.

Whilst I do not want to see every minute of testing live (a few hours at most each afternoon would suffice), the extremely positive reaction to IndyCar’s live stream ahead of the Indianapolis 500 may serve as a catalyst for change. How Liberty Media can implement that into Formula 1 might need a little bit of persuading from a variety of parties…

Bottas win peaks with 3.4 million viewers

A peak audience of 3.4 million viewers watched Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas clinch his first Formula 1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix, overnight viewing figures show.

Last year, Channel 4 aired highlights of the race with Sky broadcasting the race exclusively live, meaning that year-on-year comparisons are difficult to make.

Live coverage of the race, which aired on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:10, averaged 1.92m (19.7%). Channel 4 split their programming into three sections in television guides and on the EPG.

The pre-race build-up averaged 865k (11.8%) from 12:00, with the race itself bringing in 2.16m (21.5%) from 12:35 to 15:10. An audience of 656k (6.0%) stuck around for Channel 4’s analysis from 15:10 to 16:30.

Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 2.73m (27.6%) at 13:15 as the race restarted following the Safety Car period. Compared with last year, the peak is on the lower end of the scale for live races.

Sky Sports F1’s live coverage averaged 447k (4.5%) from 12:00 to 15:30, peaking with 752k (7.3%) at 13:55. The timing of Sky’s peak coincides with the gap between BT Sport’s Premier League game yesterday (Man Utd vs Swansea) and Sky’s first Premier League match (Everton vs Chelsea).

The combined average audience of 2.37 million viewers is marginally down on last year’s average audience of 2.40 million viewers. The peak audience is unusual, in that the peak audience did not occur at the same point as Sky’s and Channel 4’s own unique peak audiences.

In fact, the combined peak audience of 3.44 million viewers (31.3% share) occurred at 14:30. At the time of the peak, 2.72m (24.8%) were watching on Channel 4 (down 4,000 viewers on their own peak at 13:15) and 713k (6.5%) were watching on Sky Sports F1 (down 39,000 viewers on their own peak at 13:55).

There was a core audience of 3.2 million viewers watching with very little movement throughout the first 75 minutes, the race never once dropping below 3.16 million viewers. The audience breakdown for the respective broadcasters shows off the different audience profiles, Sky driven by other programming in their portfolio, with Channel 4 more general channel hopping. The numbers for the race are solid, but like the event itself, not spectacular.

Live coverage of qualifying across Sky Sports and Channel 4 fared poorly on Saturday afternoon.

Channel 4’s programme, which aired from 11:55 to 14:30, averaged 937k (12.4%). Their broadcast peaked with 1.60m (19.3%) at 13:55 as Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position. It is Channel 4’s second lowest audience ever for a live Formula 1 qualifying broadcast, only ahead of last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix (811k/11.4%).

Sky Sports F1’s broadcast averaged 197k (2.6%) from 12:00 to 14:40, which is one of their lowest qualifying audiences on record. Vettel’s pole position peaked with 371k (4.5%) at 13:55.

The qualifying session was up against other live sporting competition on free-to-air television: snooker on BBC One and horse racing on ITV, however both programmes started at 13:30, so are unlikely to have had a major impact.

The combined audience of 1.13 million viewers is the lowest for a qualifying session since the 2008 European Grand Prix, which was up against the Olympic Games closing ceremony. The combined peak audience of 1.97 million viewers (23.7% share) is marginally up on last year’s peak audience of 1.9 million viewers, last year shown in highlights form on Channel 4.

A larger proportion of Formula 1’s viewership is skipping the pre and post-session festivities, instead choosing to just watch the on-track action. Earlier in the day, an audience of 370k watched the third practice session across Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1 (291k and 79k respectively), peaking with 446k (7.3%) at 10:40.

The 2016 Russian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.


A new era, and a new graphics set for Formula Two

The machinery on the track might have looked the same in Bahrain, but off the track Formula 1’s leading feeder series has a new identity. Enter, the Formula Two Championship. The championship takes over that title from the now defunct GP2 Series.

Throughout its duration from 2005 to 2016, the GP2 Series maintained the same style of graphics: a combination of blue and white, with rounded ‘squircle’ like edges. Whilst Formula One Management (FOM) enhanced the graphics set when Formula 1 moved to high-definition, it retained the same look and feel as the original non-HD version.

By 2016, the graphics set had outlasted its stay compared to other championships. Formula 1, MotoGP, and IndyCar had refreshed their graphics on numerous occasions whereas GP2 and GP3 were left behind. A common GP2 complaint was the lack of a timing tower during qualifying, meaning that it was incredibly tricky to follow the action. In this respect, GP2 was a decade behind Formula 1, FOM introducing the tower when Formula 1 moved to a three-part qualifying format in 2006.

2017 Bahrain Formula Two - Fuoco.png
A shot of Prema’s Antonio Fuoco during the 2017 Bahrain Formula Two practice session. Note the familiar timing wall down the left hand side of the picture.

Finally, with the rebirth of Formula Two, F1’s leading feeder series is no longer treated as inferior in the production department. The new graphics set is consistent with F1, the only difference being the colour scheme, which is distinctive to Formula Two and with a call back to GP2’s colour scheme. I dare say that Formula Two’s graphics set is better than its bigger brother.

Elsewhere, there was some evidence in Bahrain that the new FOM may use Formula Two as a testing ground for new techniques. For the first time in twelve years, FOM used picture in picture during both of their live race broadcasts. The first occasion was as one of the leading drivers made a pit stop, with the second used on the formation lap of the sprint race.

I do not know if this happened in the old regime, but it would make sense to use GP3 and Formula Two as a test bed for new ideas, bringing the new features into F1 once tested. Admittedly that is difficult when the two championships run different schedules (unlike Moto2 and Moto3; Formula Two and GP3 are not present at every of their big brother’s races such as the Russian Grand Prix this weekend), but it is something that FOM should look to do now that both series are using a streamlined graphics set.

2017 Bahrain Formula Two - Leclerc
On-board with Charles Leclerc during the 2017 Bahrain Formula Two practice session.

It is not just on the graphical side, but all the way through production, the feeder series are a feeding ground in many ways. New talent should start work on directing GP3 and Formula Two, working their way to Formula 1.

Is it right to criticise Sky over lack of Formula Two promotion?
A criticism on social media over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend was Sky Sports F1’s treatment of the series. Sky did little to promote the series opener, treating Formula Two (like they did with GP2) as a channel “add-on” rather than an integral piece of furniture. Furthermore, Sky’s scheduling was not up to scratch throughout the weekend, cutting off an excellent feature race on the slow-down lap as opposed to after the podium celebrations.

On one hand, yes, Sky should promote the series more through their supplementary programming. However, it is Liberty Media’s task to help encourage broadcasters to promote the series further, and to help embed the championship into the wider product. The new FOM needs to make Formula Two and GP3 feel important, in the same way that Dorna treat Moto2 and Moto3 with care.

Formula Two’s and GP3’s social media standing across Facebook and Twitter for an international motor racing series is alarmingly poor, whilst neither championship has a presence on YouTube. The second Formula Two race in Bahrain won by Charles Leclerc featured fantastic racing, but this was unexploited due to Formula Two’s absent YouTube presence (GP2 did not have a YouTube channel either).

A lot of drivers in Moto2 have built up sizeable fanbases due to social media, which needs to occur in Formula Two as well, given that Formula 1 will be relying on this talent in the future. It is probably no surprise that Sky have treated GP2 / Formula Two the way they do given that the Commercial Rights Holder has done little historically to help the championship. Hopefully that will change under Liberty Media’s ownership.