Big News For British Fans: F1 Returns To The BBC

Big News For British Fans: F1 Returns To The BBC

After twelve years of covering Formula One, ITV has lost the battle to continue broadcasting the sport. Instead, from 2009 onwards the BBC will incorporate the show into BBC Sports and will have rights to mobile, radio and Internet broadcasting as well as the television rights. The deal is for five years but it is currently unknown if Martin Brundle, James Allen, Louise Goodman and Ted Kravitz will make the move as well.

ITV plc today confirmed that it has decided to exit Formula One at the end of this season. This was a straightforward commercial decision for ITV and we are pleased that Formula One will continue to be broadcast free-to-air. ITV will continue to broadcast live coverage of every race this season as Lewis Hamilton attempts to win his first world championship. ITV Statement.

They just can’t say anything without mentioning Lewis Hamilton, can they?

In 1997, when the UK coverage moved to ITV, legendary commentator Murray Walker followed the sport over and worked with ITV alongside ex-driver Martin Brundle. It is likely that the BBC will want Brundle on their books, the commentator having earned a few awards since retiring from Formula One. Whether or not the BBC will offer Allen a job is also unknown, but I think their will be a few cries from the British fans if he is.

I am delighted to conclude this new deal with the BBC. It is an exciting time in Formula One and the BBC has some innovative new ideas to consolidate and expand our UK fan base. Bernie Ecclestone.

To their credit, ITV have started to broadcast qualifying and the race via the Internet this year, and so far it appears to have been a success. Hopefully the BBC will continue this and I think I speak for most of the UK fans when I say how pleased I will be when the adverts go.

We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC. F1 is a crown jewel of sports broadcasting, so to bring the rights back to their traditional home from 2009 is tremendously exciting. Fans will be able to enjoy uninterrupted, state of the art and innovative coverage from BBC Sport, across all of our TV, radio and new media platforms, for the first time since 1996. Dominic Coles.

The only possible downside to all this is going to be the quality of the show. ITV had recently struck a deal with Sony for sponsorship, but it apparently wasn’t the amount they were looking for. Will the BBC be willing to part with much of the license fee funds to produce a quality show? Who knows at the moment, but right now, I think it is good news.

Image courtesy of Red Bull Racing.


  • “right now, I think it is good news.”

    On this occasion Oliver, I would have to disagree. Although the end of the adverts is very welcomed, it’s perhaps the only part of the move from ITV to the BBC that I think I’ll enjoy.

    ITV have made a great job of making the show what it is today and I think the BBC will struggle to compete, especially if they decide not to use the experience of the current presenters.

    I would hate for the commentators to have very little knowledge about formula one like they do on SpeedTV as this just makes for poor commentary.

    Another thing I have enjoyed from ITV is the pre qual/race build up shows where they interview the drivers and have technical/topical/political sections. This gives the viewer current F1 news as well as more insight into the sport.

    Unless the BBC can match or better the TV format that ITV has presented for the past few years, then I think they will severely upset the current fan base which F1 doesn’t need right now since it current on an upwards slope.

    ITV F1… I will miss you xxx



  • “They just can’t say anything without mentioning Lewis Hamilton, can they?”

    the good news is the bbc have a charter to ahere to. it’s that very thing that stops 5live’s coverage from going ott on the hamilton hype and should mean balanced and equal coverage with british drivers for fans next year.

  • “But we already have some ideas buzzing around about how we can make F1 even bigger and better than it is now – and we’re really looking forward to watching Lewis Hamilton achieve even more success. ”

    This is from Roger Mosey, Director of BBC Sport – so even they aren’t immune to mentioning Lewis at every opportunity!

    ITV do have to take credit for making F1 coverage what it is today – I think the BBC had it for so long that it was taken for granted a bit, but with ITV’s revamp and also competition from Sky in other areas of sport I think the BBC’s coverage will be up there with the best.

    As far as the pre-race and pre-quali shows, I hope they stay at a decent length – but only if they contain unique new content and aren’t both filled with the same things!

    I’ve a feeling the line-up for BBC’s commentary team will be this year’s big debating and speculating point.

  • Thanks for commenting Stephen. As I said, I believe right now it is a good move, but as I hinted at in the post, I too have reservations about the quality of the show.

    I personally don’t like the pre-race build-up aside from Brundle’s grid walk. I find pre-recorded bits about Heikki Kovalainen cooking dreadfully dull, and they tend to show the same bits from Saturday on the Sunday show. I get why this is done, because not everyone watches qualifying, and I also understand that in order to maximise their viewers, they need to cater for lots of different type of fans. But I want to watch motor sport.

    Whether or not the BBC will be better will have to remain to be seen, but I did enjoy their show when they last broadcast it in the nineties. There wasn’t much build-up, just the necessary news and then on with the racing. Perhaps that doesn’t work in this day and age, but for me it is great.

    Opinions will always be divided and that is what makes everything fun.

    @sidepodcast: They won’t get a balanced coverage with Allen in the commentary box, charter or no charter. 😉

    I’ve a feeling the line-up for BBC’s commentary team will be this year’s big debating and speculating point.

    @Craig: I have that feeling as well.

  • “They won’t get a balanced coverage with Allen in the commentary box, charter or no charter.”

    and that’s why he won’t be in the box 🙂

    fwiw, my money’s on:

    – croftie & brundle in the box

    – x2 new presenters in the pits / garages

    – tamara doing some PR guff

  • actually, let me amend that last comment. next year i think davidson will be without a drive, so i’ll add him in the commentary box too.

    he did 5live and then itv a couple of times. was brilliant.

  • A rare pro-ITV opinion from Stephen there.

    I guess ITV’s problem is that pre- and post- race is nice, but it’s the race that counts. And with ITV having become WAY TOO pro-Lewis, they’ve whittled away whatever objectivity and credibility they had (even their pre- and post- race is way too focused on Lewis now).

    The BBC has their own team of experienced presenters (led by David Croft) and I expect that they will be very much visible starting 2009, but they’d be unbelievably stupid not to keep Brundle (who has taken Murray’s place as the fans’ favorite commentator).

    And I’m sure that as ITV has raised the bar, the BBC will have no choice but to equal it at the very least. Otherwise, that wouldn’t do their ratings very good, would it?

  • I do think the move will be good in terms of not having any advert breaks anymore. I do however fear like others have expressed for the quality of the show, ITV F1 has definitely shaped the viewing experience over the last few years and it would insane for the BBC to loose Brundle from the commentary team… James ‘King of the obvious statemtent’ Allen however, we can do without. Suzi Perry > Louise Goodman… that’d be a pretty sweet replacement too. Also more unbiased commentary on all British drivers would be excellent.

  • It’s worth mentioning that Martin Brundle commentated for the BBC for half of the 1995 races (the other half of the time, he was racing a Ligier). Hopefully, it will simply be a question of Martin and BBC renewing the partnership, because he really is the linchpin of the commentary team right now.

  • I really really hope the whole team moves over and Martin and James in particular. I think they all do an outstanding job and are much loved in this house. If they were to not move over I think it’d take alot away from the enjoyment of watching it for me and the rest of my family. Of course I would never stop watching but I find the thought of someone else doing it a bit upsetting to be honest. Martin is such a star, the BBC would be absolutlely off their rockers not to bring him over, he is F1 coverage in my opinion

    Please please BBC don’t use anyone else like, Murray “I can’t remember anything” Walker. Martin and James are the men for the job

  • Old topic I see, but I’d dump James in a second. Martin is the star of that team, and yes it would be stupid not to bring him into the new deal. James and Louise are frankly irritating and easily replaceable.

    Having said all that, I much prefer the F1 coverage on Speed (US channel). It’s so much better with the 4 guys on that show, and they have great chemistry. The British feed is bloody boring in comparison, and needs upgrading (but keep Brundle).

  • It makes little sense to have every UK TV-license payer pay for a special interest sport (i.e. any sport) being broadcast. This can not have been cheap. ITV has done a fantastic job developing F1 broadcasting (the major slip-up was moving to 16:9 very late).

  • Yes keep Brundle, no thanks Allen (annoying and talks far too much) – but what has anyone got against Louise? She knows what she is talking about and gets good interviews – always in the right place at the right time. And I love the fact that she is there representing the growing base of F1 knowledgeable female fans, one of which (this one) could do without one thing in the coverage – and that is gratuitous oggling at semi-clad women in the crowd and in the pit lane. Time F1 dragged itself into the 20th century in this respect.

  • Hammond is a yes for me, Martin is ESSENTIAL…

    James Allen knows a lot but bores me, and Louise gets on my nerves.

    no adverts= brilliant

    and we need to stop the Hamilton partisan rubbish, I can’t stand Hamilton and I hate him more because of their coverage and bottom kissing.

  • Remove Tony Jardine and James Allen from proceedings, and inject some humour into each broadcast. Not in the crass and forced manner of Top Gear, but the fashion of relaxed commentating found in Eurosport’s current Tour de France coverage.

    And what exactly has James Allen got against Nick Heidfeld? He’s really starting to test my patience with his unwarranted discrimination. It seems Allen has a personal vendetta against the German to taint his presence in Formula One.

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