With all the excitement and buzz of Fernando Alonso competing in the Indianapolis 500 this year there may be a whole new audience tuning into the race for the first time.
First and foremost if you are in the United States the race will be live on ABC.
But as this is a UK blog let’s look at UK television.
How do you watch the 2017 Indianapolis 500 on British TV?
All races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series, including the Indy 500, are on BT Sport. It will be on their ‘BT Sport ESPN‘ branded channel.
Practice sessions and parts of qualifying are live streamed on YouTube. They also have a handy ‘Race Control’ page embedding the YouTube stream with live timing. This page just shows live timing during the race.
When the US coverage is on a break during green flag racing BT Sport provide their own commentators to fill in the gaps. They might nip away for a break of their own during a Safety Car. Yes, we actually see more of the race than US fans! You can communicate with these guys using Twitter hashtag #BTSmotorsport.
BT Sport will also be mirroring the US coverage of Qualifying.
Most practice sessions have taken place at the time of writing (Thursday 18th May), I will list the remainder. There are 2 days of qualifying – Sunday is more important but if it rains Sunday then Saturday’s times will stand.
Indy 500 Schedule (2017)
All times are British Summer Time, 5 hours ahead of Indianapolis. 3 days of practice have already occurred.
Thursday 18th May
Practice 5pm – 11pm (YouTube)
Friday 19th May Fast Friday!
Teams switch to qualifying spec: extra boost and less downforce means speeds increase and cars become harder to control.
Practice 5pm – 11pm (YouTube)
Saturday 20th May Bump Day
Practice 1pm – 1.30pm Group 1 (YouTube)
Practice 1.30pm – 2pm Group 2 (YouTube)
Practice 2pm – 2.30pm Full Field (YouTube)
Qualifying 4pm – 10.50pm (YouTube until 9pm, then BT Sport ESPN)
Qualifying is on YouTube from 4pm to 9pm and then BT Sport ESPN from 9pm to 11pm. The stream will be switched off once TV coverage begins.
The grid is not set today – unless it rains Sunday. Saturday qualifying has 3 aims:
1) Get into the ‘Fast 9’ which is roughly equal to Q3 in Formula 1. Only these 9 cars will get the chance to go for Pole tomorrow.
2) Get into the field. There are 33 starting spots. If there are more than 33 entrants the slowest cars would be “bumped” out and would have to try to get back in, though this year there are no more than 33 entrants.
3) Sets the qualifying order for tomorrow’s runs which determine the grid.
All cars are allotted 1 run from 4pm (11am local), the order for which was drawn by lots. After that they are free to run later for as long as there is time. Only one car can run at a time.
When there are no cars making a qualifying run, the track will open to all cars for free practice, which will be flagged off as soon as a car lines up to qualify. Timing will switch between practice & qualifying boards accordingly.
Sunday 21st May Pole Day
Practice 5pm – 5.45pm (Positions 10 to 33) (YouTube)
Practice 6.15pm – 7pm (Fast 9) (YouTube)
Qualifying 7.45pm – 9.45pm (positions 10 to 33) (YouTube until 9pm, then BT Sport ESPN)
Qualifying 10pm – 10.45pm (Fast 9) (BT Sport ESPN)
YouTube will show most of the first part. BT Sport ESPN will join with 45 minutes left of the first session and will show all of the shootout for pole.
Every car makes one run only. No repeat attempts. Cars will run in reverse order of Saturday’s results, slowest car goes first. Other than that Saturday times don’t count – unless Sunday is completely rained out, then grid will be set on Saturday times.
Championship points worth almost as much as a standard race are awarded on qualifying position (every other round only awards 1pt for pole). And then double points are awarded for the Indy 500 itself.
Monday 22nd May
Practice 5.30pm – 9pm (YouTube)
Cars back in race trim. This is the last major practice session.
Friday 26th May Carb Day
Practice 4pm – 5pm (YouTube)
One final hour of practice for systems checks before the big day.
Indy Lights Race 5.30pm 40 laps (YouTube)
The Lights race is worth watching, a few years ago there were three cars side by side at the line!
Sunday 28th May Race Day
Monaco Grand Prix chequered flag should be at 3pm so there’s plenty of time for debrief or overrun.
101st Indianapolis 500 4pm 200 laps (BT Sport ESPN)
Some listings show 4.30pm
Actual race start: 5.15pm – but tune in before that!
NOTE THE CHANNEL CHANGE! BT SPORT ESPN – I had originally listed BT Sport 2, this is wrong.
I strongly recommend turning on before 4.30pm, or as early as you can, for one of the most spectacular pre-race buildups in all of racing and to learn as much as possible – assuming BT Sport shows it! As long as they show these live, I’m happy:
4.35pm Driver Introductions – You definitely want to hear how the crowd likes or dislikes each driver!
5pm National Anthem
5.12pm Back Home Again In Indiana – OK it isn’t a very good song, and it’ll take you a few years to recognise why it is important, but you have to have this, balloons floating away in the background. It means only one thing can follow…
5.14pm Drivers Start Your Engines – Time to race!
Note – Race day is a military holiday in the United States hence there’s an abundance of military tributes, which is fair. It does though come across as a celebration, which European & other viewers accustomed to more solemn commemoration and reflection may find a little culturally jarring.
The Rest of the Season
Most IndyCar races are aired live on BT Sport ESPN. Sometimes races may be on BT Sport 2.
You can subscribe to the TooMuchRacing IndyCar Google/iCal Calendar to remind you which week has a race!
Also IndyCar UK does a good job of keeping abreast of the weekly start times and channels.