The BBC officially revealed their plans for the 2009 Formula 1 season today, confirming much of what has been rumoured over the last few months (particularly on the F1 thread of the DigitalSpy forums). This is the most comprehensive coverage of Formula 1 ever seen on free-to-air TV in this country, and rivals the pay-monthly options in Germany and Italy.
Note: This is UK only. There will be no live coverage on BBC World or BBC America.
First the broadcast team. This was announced in November and I posted short profiles in my post at the time (not to mention a video of The Chain). This is a recap of the line-up:
Coverage switches from ITV1 to BBC1. Humphrey brings a different style to the anchorman role, while Legard coming from radio is a much more laid back presence in the hot seat than his two predecessors. Brundle brings his lengthy F1, Sportscar, and now TV experience back to the commentary box. Kravitz also joins from ITV with McKenzie coming from coverage of A1GP and GP2. DC and EJ should be a hoot in the post-race analysis whenever anything controversial happens!
BBC Radio 5 Live continues on from last year. Croft and Samos continue as before while Maurice Hamilton (no relation to Lewis) is replaced by the excellent but out-of-work F1 driver Davidson, who lost his drive when Super Aguri went under and ended up guesting for BBC Radio coverage last season. To be honest I rarely listen to this coverage as I’m watching the TV.
Blogs from the commentary legend that is Murray Walker, current driver Mark Webber, the current on-screen team and their producer(?) as part of an overall relaunch of the Motorsport section of the website, which has been pretty poor over the last couple of years.
Next… the details!
(I’ll recap how you can receive these channels at the end of this post.)
– Every F1 race of 2009 will air live on BBC One and Radio 5 Live.
– Every race and qualifying session that happens before 10am UK will get a repeat showing that afternoon. ITV has done this for some time.
– Each race will be available on BBC iPlayer for up to 7 days after the event. Once downloaded you can keep it for up to 30 days. I think the BBC3 highlights package will also be available if you’re short on time.
– Every Friday and Saturday practice session will air live on the BBC Red Button and online, and 5 Live Sports Extra. No word on whether the TV will feature radio commentary, for the moment I am assuming it will. ITV last year did not have any commentary on their online feed.
BBC Interactive’s Red Button service for Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin customers will feature some special delights:
– A choice of commentary: either the TV or Radio feed. Hell of choice between Brundle and Davidson, as well as being quick drivers they are both natural broadcasters.
– All practice sessions will be on the red button, not on BBC 1, 2, 3.
– After qualifying and race coverage has finished on BBC1 there will be an ‘Interactive Forum’ on the RB. This is a phone/text/email show with talk from DC and EJ.
– During the race there will be a choice of screens:
1) The main BBC One feed with choice of commentary;
2) Split screen featuring the main feed in one window, onboards in a second window, and a leaderboard;
3) Rolling highlights of the race so far;
Those on the DigitalSpy forum think #2 will be similar to Premiere in Germany, which looks like this:
Um. Can I just say? Ultra-cool!
No word yet on whether this will be extended for qualifying, or jut race-only, but it’s pretty cool either way.
I am seething a little here because I don’t get the interactive service until Digital Switchover occurs in my region in May. Luckily those streams are online! They’ll be geo-locked to UK-only but I’m sure the techies among you will figure out a way around that. And it means my first Red Button trials will occur during the Monaco Grand Prix – kick ass!
There is a very high degree of likeliness that we will see a Top Gear F1 Special sooner rather than later. Lee McK has already done the lap! I’m having visions of the TG team wandering around the F1 paddock, not during race coverage but as a part of the next series.
5 Live will have a preview show on Friday nights of race weekends, as they have done for a while now. Also continuing is the post-race Chequered Flag podcast featuring driver interviews. I have to say I’ve completely missed the boat on both of those shows, I will try and catch up with them this year. All you international readers should be able to download the podcast freely.
NO COMMERICAL BREAKS DURING THE ACTION!
Okay I think that’s everything, but I’m sure to have missed something – please let me know in the comments!
How To Get These Channels
BBC1 and BBC2 are obviously available everywhere, if you don’t know how to get those you aren’t in the UK so none of this post applies to you…
BBC3 and Red Button are on digital TV only. You should be able to find BBC3 easily enough on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. To go Interactive just hit Red during any F1 broadcast.
5 Live is on 909 and 693 Medium Wave, DAB and online.
5 Live Sports Extra is on DAB and online.
I’m not sure the online feed for radio will work , it’s historically been blacked out during F1, so use the TV feed.
I’m sure any American/Canadian/other readers will be turning to our mutual friend Justin for a little help if they don’t like their own domestic feed..
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PS – Meesh sez the USF1 announcement was a washout so I’ll not recap that today, head over to her blog instead.
PPS – Got my tax exam result last week. Pass. *Yay*