ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

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

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94 comments on ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

  1. 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.

  2. AndyWolf said on 21st March 2008, 20:08

    Arnet, you’re spot on!

  3. nick c said on 22nd March 2008, 12:24

     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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Here is my view:

    Presenters: Steve Rider and Suzi Perry (alternating between MotoGP and F1).
    Analysts: Maurice Hamilton or Jardine
    Commentators: Brundle and Croft/Edwards
    Pit Lane: James Allen (He was good in that role!)
    Bring back Chain and let Muzza commentate on British GP

  7. Well ITV loosing it shall be good and bad, ITV do a brilliant job atm, apart from the adverts. The team which produce it is outstanding and the presenters comentators do a real profesional job what ever anyone else says. The BBC getting it means no uninterupted coverage but, we run the risk of getting shocking comentry form new people, whcih can only be bad if it is to the level of Five Lives coveage. And you cant have Suzi Perry in it keep all the team especialy blundel and brundle who know what they are taling bout. And the top gear thing using them presenters is so bad, they dont do F1 it shall ruin it as they dont know anythign about it hamond has been know to say he doesnt like it. So all i can see apart form the adverts being removed the BBC brings nothing to the sport of F1, if anythign they sahll make it worse.

  8. Chris said on 26th May 2008, 12:45

    It’s been said many times above, but on the off chance producers for the new BBC coverage check for opinions on forums such as this, the single most important decision they make will be to ensure Martin Brundle remains the co commentator for all live coverage. In addition they must return to a studio structure, and Brundle should be part of the post race analysis. I understand that Coulthard is also going to be involved in this. Mark Blundell should not be allowed anywhere near a video camera – he is bland, speaks only in narrative not analysis and adds no value. Allen as we’ve already established is mind blowingly tedious.

    The odd Top Gear style F1 preview mid week before big races could be an amusing addition, but I agree with those who have said for the race coverage itself we need credible experts. Let’s get Barry Davies in to commentate – I’ve never heard him provide a bad commentary on any sport – he’s been grossly underused by the BCC, and I’m sure he could do the requisite research!

  9. Chris said on 1st June 2008, 18:35

    We need HD – Freesat may help there – come on BBC!

    I agree – with the majority – keep Martin Brundle.

    John Watson and Richard Nichol were good on Eurosport in the early nineties, before BBC did all races live but Eurosport showed ALL sessions and nearly all live including the now defunct Morning Warm Up! – and repeated them all in full later – the good old days! (

    Bring back The Chain – maybe a remix.

    Don’t bring back Studio presentation though – the presentation is better done from the paddock/pits as now – more in the middle of things – No mentions of Jim Rosenthal yet – I think he was better then Steve Rider is.

    Keep the full hour build up and use Red Button to carry on the post race analysis if there’s a clash – the BBC do already do this with some football.

    Murray as Main Commentator? No – let him enjoy his retirement – but he could be a guest on some European races where he doesn’t have to travel as much.

    And James Hunt ??? No disrespect as he’s passed on but he was useless – just waffled about foreshortening due to the camera angle and the ‘two loti’ (Andretti and Perersen driving for Lotus)

    Lets hope the BBC read these forums and take everyone’s views onboard……….

  10. Simon said on 20th June 2008, 11:15

    can we all please stop and think before we say any of the top gear team should be involved. if they want to do a special section on there own show then fine, but its a serious sport and i dont want them bafooning around on F1. I love top gear, but its a different show. Do you remember when they did the radio show thing and what a mess they made of it. I know some of its was probably for entertainment, but serious F1 presenters, they aint. Mays brilliant and i have his book, but he’s too laid back. Clarkson is brill too, and also have his books, but he’s a bafoon, and plays for laughs and effect. also he used to say (not all that long ago)that he hated F1. He seems to come round now, and talks with enthusiasm, but i dont know where his loyailty is, and he’s a clown. And Hammond has long said that he hated F1. When he drove the renault he said before-hand that he had no interest in F1, so where will the historic knowledge come from? Please please help me stamp on this F1 Top Gear team of presenters, or part therof, in its entirety before F1 (the sport i love) becomes a joke.
    Oh and leave Dr jonathan palmer and tony jardeen and such like, where there are too. It was like watching paint dry.

  11. Hammond made it very clear on Chris Moyles’s show this week that even if they asked him he wouldn’t be interested.

  12. Simon said on 25th June 2008, 12:29

    in fact – to follow on from my No. 85 above, i dont think there is much wrong with any of the team on ITV at present. People slate James Allen but i think he is actualy quite good. He talks about what is going on during a race and offers some useful technical and strategic insights in this, the 21st centuary. Murray Walker was undeniably brilliant, but if you listen back to him (there are few examples on places like you tube) then apart from the moments of histeria then it was a “such and such is third, such and such is fourth” kind of commentary, and a bit bland in places. He was hugely enthusiastic and that was fabulous, but its not all about that. I think James Allen has a good amount of peaks and troughs. All i wish from the current presenters is that it was a bit less one sided and wasnt just the lewis hamilton show. Even when he went up the back of alonso and the telemetry proved alonso didnt lift, dreary blundell still wouldnt accept it!

  13. Chris B said on 27th June 2008, 22:04

    High Definition: It would be great but even the best LCD TV’s suffer from motion blur – even when showing HD. Plasma is better but the smallest is currently 37 inch and can’t show true 1080I(maximum current broadcast format)or 1080P HD.

    Commentary: BBC often offer Radio 5 Live commentary as a Red Button option on live football – even on Freeview – so they could do the same with F1.

  14. Get rid of Brundle hes so monotone and cuts in when the drivers are on the car radio yes he has alot of knowledge but hes never enthusiastic. James Allen is quite good dont understand why people think hes poo, bbc should have nigel mansell and murray walker as comentators both have alot of knowledge of F1 and would be a welcome edition. Glad bbc have taken over no more cilit bang and dodgy car ads

  15. Scott Joslin said on 8th July 2008, 11:26

    Interesting news floating around at the moment that Brundle and Coulthard are supposed to be on the BBC’s wish list for next year, but with Brundle moving to the anchor position that Steve Rider has at the moment and with DC in the commentary box.

    This doesn’t sit quite right with me. Brundle is far better in the box. DC would be a suitable replacement for Blundell. Still no news on the lead commentator – Hope to god it is not Charlie Cox, bless him!

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