ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

British F1 fans will be able to enjoy live Formula 1 free from adverts next year as the BBC have won the right to screen live coverage.

ITV has broadcasted the sport since 1996 and angered many fans by missing up to 15 minutes of every race with advert breaks. Last year ITV missed the moment that decided the world championship – Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox problem in Interlagos – because they were on an advert break.

More recently fans have bemoaned the obsession with Lewis Hamilton in much of the coverage.

And lead commentator James Allen, who took over from Murray Walker in 2002, has never enjoyed popularity among the sport’s fan base. It’s not yet known who BBC might put in the lead commentary chair – Walker did the European Grand Prix for Radio Five as a one-off last year but he has said he’s not up to doing a large number of races per year.

ITV-F1 hasn’t been without successes though. The appointment of Martin Brundle as second commentator was an excellent move and has been very well received. And they began broadcasting F1 live online this year, allowing British viewers to watch two of the practice sessions for the first time.

BBC’s deal will allow them to broadcast F1 on television, online (via its iPlayer service) and on mobile platforms. BBC already has some high definition channels as well, so we might finally get to see F1 in HD as well.

Ironically television communications regulating body Ofcom had recently revealed it was looking into changing advertising restrictions which might have forced ITV to reduce the number of adverts in its coverage.

It also appears ITV’s existing F1 deal has been cut short. At the last extension of their contract it was reported they would show F1 until the end of 2010, but that appears to have been cut back by two years. Was this ITV’s choice?

More on ITV and F1

2009 F1 season

94 comments on “ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009”

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  1. Keep Brundle (no brainer) as main commentator. Have Couthard (he’ll be out of a drive next year) for the grid walkabout because the young drivers remember him as an ex-F1 driver. He could then comment on the technicalities. I’m sure Brundle & Coulthard would work well together.

  2. Sooooperpigdog
    20th March 2008, 18:30

    arnet, to be fair, you can’t blame ITV for the track side camerawork (except for Silverstone), it’s the TV company in that particular country that’s responsible for that.

  3. Robert McKay
    20th March 2008, 18:57

    I’m more worried about Brundle than I am about the bloody Chain. It’s a great piece of music’n’all, perfect for F1, but it’s for 30 seconds at the start of the show. I’d be extremely disappointed if we lost Brundle’s commentary, which is for a full season!

  4. I am delighted that we will get hd – dolby surround – wide screen – plus ipod and online coverage through the bbc – bernie has removed one of itv’s biggest potential revenue earners – putting them in more danger of collapsing – but that is another story.
    As for keeping mb – fine – a little piece with mw reminising on past years – not commentating – please – I can still remember and it wasn’t all good/funny.
    That leaves who? – lets see – it cant be any of the top gear team – too obvious and dont think they could respond quick enough – so yes a recently retired driver would suit – god I miss hunt the shunt now

  5. I’d like to see Suzie Perry out on the track. She’s a really good commentator

  6. The first entry on this summed it up, best news all year.  I’ve been fed up with ITV for years.  Not showing qualifying from Canada or Indy has always annoyed me and they really do take the mick with the adverts.Brundle is great, keep him.  Get rid of James Allen.  If I wasn’t already an F1 fan listening to James would not convince me to be one, unlike M Walker.Louise Goodman, Ted Kravitz and Tamara Ecclestone (god forbid we have to suffer more "features" from her this season) should be chopped.I would quite like to see Ben Edwards (he was always quite good on Eurosport back in the late 90’s CART days) or if either of them could be stolen from Moto GP Charlie Cox or Toby great website, keep up the good work!

  7. Surely Martin Brundle is a non-negotiable? Decent sports commentators are as rare as hens teeth so it just would not make sense to overlook one of the best.
    I would miss James Allen though – if only for the amusement factor. I think Ted Kravitz is alright but am less enamoured of the token female, Louise Goodman. We don’t have the ‘pleasure’ of the Tamara Eccelestone features here in OZ, and that sounds like it’s something I should be enternally grateful for. But if you guys think the ITV coverage is diabolical, you should see what we have to put up with here ! I only hope the Beeb has online coverage that I can access & give Oz free to air TV a miss altogether.

  8. Best bit of news so far this season.

    I would be suprised if the BBC take anyone from the Top Gear show, but I suppose Clarkson would be the first one in the BBC to put his name forward to be the host of the show.

    Hopefully they’ll bring back the music, take Brundle across,  introduce HD and show all sessions on BBC3/4 and on the web.

  9. Doesn’t Brundle manage Coulthard?

    As long as they go into a studio again, its daft when they are trying to out shout an F1 car,

  10. Yeah Brundle manages Coulthard. Now this article here makes for an interesting read: I’m going to put my conspiracy hat on and say that ITV gave Formula One to the BBC provided they didn’t bid on the Champions League.

  11. Anyway, I hope whoever they get to host the coverage can say the word ‘sixth’ correctly ;)

  12. "I’d like to see Suzie Perry out on the track. She’s a really good commentator" – Ollie

    Me too, she’s a Wolves fan after all!

  13. or was the J who i quoted….?

  14. Vertigo what a brillinat idea. That would be amazing!CLARKSON ALL THE WAY!!!!!
    Vertigos actually name is Jack Butler lol( Sorry Jack).  

  15. I love Top Gear and think they do an amazing job, but I don’t want to be chuckling through the race. Leave them where they are. Give us someone who is an F1 expert, not just a car nut.

  16. Arnet, you’re spot on!

  17.  arnet, i dont think you understand. Clarkson has watched F1 all his life and he will now the ins and outs of the sport. The comedy will just be a added extra.

  18. I know Clarkson knows his stuff. I love the show, and I read his magazine from time to time and think he is a witty and clever writer, but I don’t he can resist his impulse to ham it up and to complain. I want to be informed while watching a race, not entertained. The race is entertainment enough.

  19. From what I’ve heard and read the only member of the Top Gear team in any form of running to present F1 on the BBC is Richard Hammond in a sort of studio presenter role.

    I’ve also heard rumour that the BBC might use the Top Gear team for other things like interviewing the drivers and things to get more people into F1.

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