Broadcasters Sky and the BBC have, in separate announcements, given more information about how UK fans will be able to watch Formula 1 in 2012.
The deal to split the coverage, announced during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend to the consternation of many fans, means that all races will be shown live by Sky next season. The BBC, who desperately needed to offload some of the cost of the rights to show the sport, will now have just ten live races, and will show extended highlights of the rest.
Sky have announced that they will launch a new High Definition channel for their F1 coverage, which will broadcast for the entire season and feature other motorsport programming. It will be available not only to customers subscribing to Sky Sports 1 and 2, but also to all non-sports customers who pay for HD services. The satellite broadcaster also confirmed that there would be no advertisement breaks at all during the races.
There is no confirmation yet about who will front Sky’s coverage of the sport, but it is thought that Simon Lazenby has been chosen in the presenter role. The Times are today speculating that Martin Brundle is close to signing for the broadcaster, returning to his old pundit role, and that David Croft, the BBC Radio 5 Live commentator, will also defect. There are other rumours that pit-lane report Ted Kravitz will also be moving to Sky.
Jake Humphrey has confirmed that he will continue to present the BBC coverage, and that the team will continue to travel to every race. It is thought that David Coulthard is still under contract at the broadcaster, but there is no news about the commentary team.
It was known in June that the BBC would be showing the Monaco Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix and the final race of the season (in Brazil) live as part of the deal, but they have now confirmed the other seven live races. They are China, Spain, Europe (Valencia), Belgium, Singapore, Korea and Abu Dhabi.
For the other ten (or possibly nine, given the uncertainty over the race in Austin), there will be extended highlights programmes on BBC One. For Far Eastern races, this will be a two-hour show broadcast at 14:00 on the day of the race whilst, for European events, a 90-minute programme will be shown at 17:30. It is not yet clear what the BBC intend to do for the Canadian Grand Prix highlights, with the live race not beginning until the early evening.
For live races, the BBC will continue to show all three practice sessions on the Red Button and website, and continue the usual BBC One coverage of qualifying and the race, including the F1 forum. 5Live will continue to cover all the sessions live.