Channel 4 take over from BBC as the terrestrial broadcaster for Formula 1 this season.
The coverage starts at the Australian Grand Prix this Saturday 19th March with qualifying highlights from 12.30pm, with race highlights on Sunday from 1.30pm.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new F1 broadcaster.
What F1 races will be live on Channel 4?
Channel 4 have live coverage of ten races this season including the British Grand Prix and the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. There will be highlights of all other races.
For full details of start times and where each race will be shown on TV, check out our Formula 1 2016 race calendar and TV schedule. The races live on Channel 4 are listed below.
3 April Bahrain Grand Prix
15 May Spanish Grand Prix
19 June European Grand Prix (Azerbaijan)
10 July British Grand Prix
24 July Hungarian Grand Prix
28 August Belgian Grand Prix
4 September Italian Grand Prix
2 October Malaysia Grand Prix
30 October Mexican Grand Prix
27 November Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Who is the lead Channel 4 Formula 1 presenter?
Steve Jones fronts the coverage for Channel 4. The former T4 presenter makes no bones about this being his first live sport gig, but says that there’s a reason the channel plumped for an entertainment presenter in the end.
“We’re going to get a lot more celebs involved with it and just generally enjoy it a bit more,” he said. “I love the BBC, I’ve done a lot of work with them over the years, but they can be quite earnest. It’s great at delivering the information, but I think we’re going to deliver the information with a bit more panache.”
Who else will present with Steve Jones?
David Coulthard will be Jones’s right hand man, and will covering every race this season. The former BBC man also runs the production company responsible for Channel 4’s F1 coverage, Whisper Films, so he’s a key man for the channel’s new coverage.
He even turned down the chance to present on Top Gear for this gig: “It was a possibility yes, but the time commitment for Formula 1 wouldn’t work with Top Gear,” he said. “I’m a fan of the show in its previous format, I’m sure the new format will be different yet entertaining. But here I am. Formula 1 is my natural environment.”
Who else is on F1’s Channel 4 team?
In a word: loads.
- Former driver Mark Webber will also be a regular member of the presenting team, and will be alongside Coulthard and Jones for much of the season.
- Scottish racing driver Susie Wolff will be a C4 expert. Last year, she became the first woman driver in 20 years to take part in an F1 race weekend, acting as test driver for Williams.
- Motorsport legend Murray Walker will be recording special interviews for Channel 4, and promises he’ll be there in person for the British Grand Prix.
- Top Gear’s newest recruit Eddie Jordan will also be appearing at some of the races this year.
- Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok will act as technical analysts for Channel 4, while journalist Lee McKenzie will continue to work F1 for Channel 4 while also covering other major events for the BBC.
- Ex-BBC commentator Ben Edwards will be joining Coulthard in the commentary box.
- Look out too for racing legends Alain Prost and Alex Zanardi, Ayrton Senna’s nephew Bruno Senna and Lewis Hamilton’s brother Nic Hamilton taking part too.
What will Channel 4’s F1 coverage be like?
As Steve Jones says, there’s a reason why he was picked to host despite not having presented live sport before – they want to beef up the entertainment value.
“It’s Hollyoaks on wheels!” Jones says of F1’s pit lane politics. “Only half the story is on screen when the stars are racing. I love the politics of it, the money moving around, the relationships, the drivers, the team principals, the owners. It’s fascinating.”
But Coulthard says he sees similarities between Jones and his former F1 running mate, Jake Humphrey. “I see similarities in Jake and Steve, not in terms of personalities, but the work ethic,” he says. “I know the work ethic involved in being a sportsman, but in television being able to do live events is a skill that, unsurprisingly, doesn’t happen by accident.”
Will there be adverts?
Channel 4 have promised that there will be no adverts during coverage of their live races, meaning that F1 fans will still be able to enjoy uninterrupted action on terrestrial TV.
This is music to the ears of F1 veteran Murray Walker: “The important thing is the British public are still going to be able to watch Formula One on television, free of charge, without commercials,” he says. “I remember the frustration at ITV when something exciting was happening and you were told you had to cut to a commercial.
“Once, at the German Grand Prix, Mika Hakkinen was leading when the two-minute break occurred,” he continues. “The next lap, he blew up in front of the Mercedes-Benz grandstand and his place was taken by Coulthard. Then he blew up. So when viewers left us, Hakkinen was winning, Coulthard was second and and Jacques Villeneuve was leading, with no explanation.”
Will Channel 4 keep The Chain?
Yes, the BBC’s F1 theme from Fleetwood Mac will remain when the sport makes the switch to Channel 4. Some things have changed, but you can’t mess with a classic.