How are you watching F1 in 2009?

What channel will you be watching F1 on in 2009?

What channel will you be watching F1 on in 2009?

Over the past year I?ve been keeping an eye out for details of how F1 coverage will look in 2009 as the BBC takes over from ITV.

But this makes little difference for those of you not in Britain, or whose broadcasters do not use the British feed. So, how will you be following F1 sessions this year?

I have a suspicion that, as much as I complain about the quality of F1 coverage in Britain, it?s actually pretty good compared to many other countries.

British fans are not the only ones who will be watching F1 on a different channel in 2009. In Spain La Sexta has taken over from Telecinco, and in Australia a new dedicated sports channel will screen F1.

ESPN Star Sports continues as the broadcaster for 24 Asian nations, with Steve Slater – who I’ve only heard bad things about – manning the microphone once again.

What channel do you watch? Do you get to see all the sessions live? Are there lots of advert breaks?

Is the commentary team any good? Any ex-drivers involved in the coverage? Or do you ?ǣ perish the thought ?ǣ live in a country where F1 isn?t even broadcast? Share your experience of watching F1 below.

The F1 Fanatic live blogs, which were hugely popular in 2008, will be back again in 2009. If you would like to get involved in running them, please get in touch with me via the contact form.

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123 comments on How are you watching F1 in 2009?

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  1. skova265 said on 19th February 2009, 11:14

    I’m from Croatia and watch the coverage on our national television. We see the qualifing and race but there are only to or the advert’s that last a couple of seconds. As far as the comentary is concerned it could be betteer because the guy that is comentig always favours one driver, and in my view that is not good.

  2. I watch Dutch TV channel RTL 7, which is quite OK. They do have ad breaks, though, but they don’t last for more than a minute and a half. Commentary is from Olav Mol, who’s done so for several channels the past 15-odd years. Most of the races there’s current Dutch racing drivers in the studio, including Tom Coronel and Allard Kalff (once British Europsort commentator).

    I used to change channels to Belgian channel één during commercials on RTL 7, and could use German RTL this season, too, since I have a new digital cable subscription, which includes that as well.

    I have to say I’m tempted to watch on BBC from 2009, since there’s no ad breaks and an excellent commentary team.

    And here’s hoping for HD broadcasts!

  3. I am from India; and will be following F1 on Star Sports / ESPN. And yes; Steve Slater is probably the worst commentator ever. He never has any clue about what is going on in the race.

    In one of 2004’s boring races; he said “Michael is about 25 seconds ahead of Kimi. But Kimi’s last lap was half-a-second quicker than Michael. With 10 laps to go; This race is not over guys.” Or something to that effect.

    We see only the race and qualifying sessions live. However; Monaco GP 2008 was not telecasted live due to clash with the Wimbledon or some other football tournament; or both ( I don’t remember well)

    • anirudh said on 19th February 2009, 15:12

      oh yea 2008 Monaco GP, I remember that day. It was very frustrating, I kept on swapping espn and star sports for 1 hour. I knew it would be an interesting one(sutil+rain=Nail biting action :D)

      About Steve Slater, I dont thing he gets any extra information than the viewer anyway, He just keep on barking and barking and barking and barking. But then I have never listened to any other F1 commentator other than this guy and Shumi’s barber’s brother-in-law’s driver’s cousin who usually accompany him.

    • anirudh said on 20th February 2009, 16:09

      gaaa, Its not “I dont ‘thing’ he gets any extra information” , Its “I dont ‘think’ he gets any extra information”…. Its not my fault, its the fault of the mosquito that was trying to bite me at that time. ok? Its “I dont ‘think’ he gets any extra information”

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed ITV’s coverage, sure there were mistakes and some mis-timed ads but that’s the nature of live television. Looking forward to the BBC coverage but would have liked Ben Edwards to have stepped in and to have James Allen back doing his “from the pits” job. I’ve never heard the 5 live guy so I will appraise him with fresh ears in Melbourne.

    • Pete Walker said on 19th February 2009, 12:08

      I used to listen to some of the practice sessions on Five Live and I have to admit, Jonathan Legard is a good choice.

      Ben Edwards would have been good too. Can anybody tell me if he’s still doing A1GP with John Watson? I thought they made a pretty good pairing.

      My only reservation about the BBC line up is Jake Humphrey. He seems like a jack of all trades for the BBC, covering numerous sports. I’d prefer a motorsport specialist. That said, he’d clearly studied hard for the Superbowl coverage and seemed to know what he was talking about.

    • Glad to hear some people in Britain watch the Super Bowl :)

  5. The Setanta Sports group have the rights to broadcast F1 in Ireland. It’s broadcast on the free-to-air station ‘Setanta Ireland’ so there’s no subscription. The coverage is generally quite good, there’s no fancy studios or features but there’s way less ad breaks than there were on ITV. The best thing is that they usually show one or two of the practice sessions and both GP2 races are always covered live. Former Jordan designer Gary Anderson is the pitlane reporter. Usually I’d watch the majority of the race on Setanta and then flick over to ITV when the ads come on. If the BBC do a good job this year Setanta could find themselves losing the Irish audience over the course of the season.

  6. frecon said on 19th February 2009, 12:04

    Lately I travel a lot, so internet live coverage is my first option. The best image quality channels usually hasn’t comments, but is not big deal for me.

    In Spain La Sexta brought with the F1 rights the journalist who commented races for Telecinco. Is a good commentator, but he’s not a F1 expert. Hopefully we miss the other commentator. Serrano used to critize Hamilton whatever it happens, and praise everything Alonso does. I’m sure most of the people who dislike Alonso in Spain is because this comments.

    I hope de la Rosa keeps commenting the races. He really knows how a current F1 car works, how a current F1 driver drives, how a current F1 team think… and his comments are always prudent and smart.

  7. in Bulgaria the channels are BTV and TV7.
    Commentary is not exceptional :-( We don’t have many people directly involved in F1, having knowledge and good info sources …
    We have a huge fan base, but most of the info comes from the internet.
    It will be TV7’s first year covering F1, so let’s see what commentary team will they put together.

  8. mirko_710 said on 19th February 2009, 12:14

    another one from Croatia here… you should visit us Keith, it’s close to Hungary. no Formula 1, but great beaches and real sea. if not see you on Hungaroring :)
    broadcast on national TV is ok, too bad they are losing good insider from F1 world to a USF1 team. and lead comentator could get his heart broken if Button doesn’t get a drive this year.
    apart from that on cable i can watch practice sessions on german DSF and live races on german RTL or austrian ORF… they had Alex Wurz and Niki Lauda on their team… can’t comment on their commentators though, i don’t understand or spell deutch

  9. Steve slater..how can i forget him? he is the worst commentator.
    and as sumedh rightly said,Monaco GP 2008 qualifying wasn’t shown live due to some TENNIS championship.I had to watch online.But the worst part was that the bandwidth of my broadband connections was low,so couldn’t watched the qualifying.but i kept myself updated via Keith LIVE CHAT.:)

  10. Tengil said on 19th February 2009, 12:25

    The Swedish broadcaster Viasat has moved F1 and MotoGP to Viasat Motor, a pay-TV channel that many people (including me unfortunately) don’t have access to. Qualifying is all that remains on free-to-air for us.
    Viasat announced that this change would take place with immediate effect with two or three races remaining last season! But the amount of bad-will this created forced them to delay the swap.
    It looks like it’s live streaming for me this year, or some sort of sports pub.
    Didn’t Bernie use to require F1 to be shown on FTA? He doesn’t anymore…

  11. between why FIA always love to please their European audience?
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/73352

    The Singapore Night race was also to please the European audience

    • patrickl said on 19th February 2009, 17:03

      Maybe that’s where most viewers are?

    • Indeed, the core fanbase of F1, at least in my opinion, is and always will be in Europe. The sad thing is that Bernie is more than content to rip the European rounds away, but he wants the TV revenue from those viewers, hence the night races in Asia. Those Asian rounds also do a number on those of us in the Western half of the globe, as the first three rounds are set to roll off around 2 AM EST :(

  12. Is F1 on American TV these days?

    • yep on SPEED i think

    • Yes, SPEED has been broadcasting F1 for a number of years here, as described in good detail by several posters below. The interesting thing is that their contract is up at the end of this coming season, so we’ll see if Bernie opts to renew, or looks elsewhere….

  13. Robert McKay said on 19th February 2009, 12:47

    I have to say I’m morbidly fascinated with hearing some Steve Slater commentary. I can’t remember a single person in the liveblogs last season who thought he was anything less than absolutely abysmal, which is quite an effort.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th February 2009, 13:34

      Me too actually, is there any on Youtube, perhaps?

    • prateekf1 said on 19th February 2009, 14:11

      Maybe I’m in among a minority here, but I personally enjoy his flamboyancy. His sense of humor is top notch, so the occasional (read: frequent) goof-up is acceptable.

      Any other Steve Slater lover on this blog?

      PS: I hate James Allens’ commentary style. Steve is often compared with him.

  14. I’m in Finland and watch MTV Max. (Not affiliated with Music Television, by the way ;) ) I don’t know who they have this year, but in the past they have had Mika Salo and Nico’s dad Keke Rosberg on mics at different times.

    No commercial breaks. :)

  15. Christopher said on 19th February 2009, 13:12

    Speed TV here in the US. I love Varsha & Hobbs on the commentary. Matchett can get a bit annoying with his ‘I know Everything’ attitude, then again he has a fair amount of experience in the game. For me, F1 w/o Varsha & Hobbs just isn’t the same. Hobbs classic one liners are priceless though he does have a tendacy to favor Hamilton. We get Friday Practice, Qualifying and Race Day all live with coverage starting 30 mins. before race day for Windsor to walk the grid. There are usually 2-3 races which are broadcast on Fox (in HD) but delayed until the afternoon here in the States. My biggest complaints with Speed TV are no HD coverage here in the greater NY area and to many commercials. We also get GP2 tape delayed coverage on before the F1 race which is nice, same commentary team. Oh and I love Windsor’s prerace grid walk, there is always an odd moment or two (especially with Briatore) or Peter cutting off some other broadcasting crew to get in with a driver.

    • Stubie said on 19th February 2009, 13:58

      Speed TV here in US

      Awwww… I love Stevie (Matchett) and his “I know everything” attitude.

      Hobbs, can get a bit, how do you say, “upper classman-like”, but I am with you, his one-liners are classic! I find his coverage to be balanced though. He seems to call it as he sees it, and is not afraid to point out an inane driver move.

      Varsha is just the ultimate “cat herder” during the broadcasts, reigning in all of the rest of the team and keeping them focused on the race.

      Ditto on the too much ad time in the greater NYC area! and always at the most critical times!

      I doubt we will get any races on Fox this year, with the USGP and CanadianGP out.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th February 2009, 19:02

      On the few occasions I’ve caught Speed’s broadcasts I’ve been very impressed.

    • Christopher,

      Great summary- I agree with pretty much everything you had to say. In regards to Hobbs, I agree that he likes Lewis, but don’t forget that as last year’s climax unfolded, all David could talk about was Vettelm and how he was on pace for championships in the near future.

  16. patrickl said on 19th February 2009, 13:23

    Another Dutch guy. I don’t like the way Olav Mol comments the races. That he doesn’t even attempt to pronounce the names of the drivers properly or the way he tries to force in new made up expressions are simply too annoying.

    What’s most annoying is that he just keeps flapping his mouth through the whole race even though he has nothing to say. At least he stopped his learning curve. It was so embarassing to hear when he learned a new thing and he would keep on showing off his new knowledge all weekend.

    Especially embarassing when he got the actual term wrong. A few races he kept on talking about “grinding” of the tyres. Or when people who actually knew what they were talking about (drivers) had to correct him. Like when he was talking about oversteer and understeer and completely got the thing wrong. Not so much the terms flipped, but often drivers correct oversteer and then they get understeer. He would claim they had massive understeer, but obviously their problem was the oversteer that caused the problem to begin with (and vice versa)

    The Dutch F1 coverage also has studio segments with an audience and where they play games (sponsored item) which are really off putting. I stopped watching those parts. You have to wait through an hour of sponsored nonsense to see some new features on the cars. I like to see the latter, but I’m not willing to suffer that much discomfort for it.

    Before I was watching F1 on the BBC and Eurosport. I thought both were pretty good, but I never liked Murray Walker much. I really didn’t need to hear him screaming “AND DAMON HILL IS IN THE PITS!!!” everytime Hill made a pitstop.

    I’d really love if the presenters could be switched off. Just watch the feed and hear the cars. No chitchatting nonsense. Life timing provides the timing info (and race info) and the F1Fanatic chat is a great way to enjoy the race “together”.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th February 2009, 13:35

      I’d really love if the presenters could be switched off.

      Yeah that would be cool, just get the sounds from the race track. And teams’ radio broadcasts as well…

  17. Eddie Irvine said on 19th February 2009, 13:28

    I am from Greece and I watch F1 in Alpha. Luckily, The new season will be covered by Ant1, it’s not a great channel in terms of image quality but it can’t be worse than the previous channel. The commentators were bleeding Ferrari and they worship their greek god Michael Schumacher, it was really annoying especially for me because I am a supporter of british teams and british drivers. The ad- breaks were the 40% of the whole coverage, only the half of qualyfing sessions were live and in terms of ex-drivers, we haven’t any. The highly rated guest was a greek steward which was in the steward team which impose the penalty of Hamilton in France. I have to say he was a reck, I will not trust him to protect a cat, imagine what kind of persons take so important decesions in F1. This is a phrase which belongs to him
    -“I can’t understand how you(the commentators) understand what the drivers/mechanics say in the pit radio?”
    Whatever, I am really convinced that coverage in many other countries is better than Greece, I hope we could enjoy practice-qualifying-race in live streeming this year too, It was really cool last year.
    Good luck Ant1 don’t screwed up like Alpha!

    • S Hughes said on 19th February 2009, 14:42

      “I have to say he was a reck, I will not trust him to protect a cat, imagine what kind of persons take so important decesions in F1.”

      Gosh, that’s interesting. Makes that unjust, disgusting Spa decision even WORSE if that’s possible!

  18. I’ve been watching F1 on StarSports ever since. There are actually coverage of StarSports, Singapore Based with english commentary (with Paula, Steve Slater, Chris Goodwin etc.) and HongKong Based with Chinese commentary (with Robin Kung). Now i guess I’ll be watching F1 in a different channel since I’ll be relocating from my previous place to a place where cable TV system isn’t available. I’ll have to deal with Satelite TV and probabaly tune in on a different channel (which depends upon the clarity of the reception).

  19. StrFerrari4Ever said on 19th February 2009, 13:55

    Well here in the UK BBC is going to be broadcasting i dont know about you but i really liked James Allen i know sometimes he was rude and sounded clueless but your bound to be with all the excitement and buzz of watching a race live being close to the action and commentating to millions of people ITV yes they had annoying ad breaks but they had decent coverage with the know how of Martin Brundle oh yeah Keith i dont know if you’ve heard of a Supersport i was once on holiday there and i have to say they have fabulous coverage at night lets say when you’ve come back from a hard day of working they showed both practice sessions and they analyzed it in the studio whilst showing the footage like talking about knew aero bits the drivers and rumours it was very interesting they had commentary from Itv but when Itv went to ads they stayed on which was very good

  20. Chris Johnson said on 19th February 2009, 14:14

    Last year, I watched most of the races on my computer — split screen with F1.com live timing, streaming ITV feed, and your live blog. That was awesome. If the BBC feed is as hard to crack as they say, I’ll have to find a new method this year. I’m not sure why everyone complained about James Allen and ITV. He was 10 times better that the USA Speed crew, especially Varsha — horrible. I would absolutely pay a fee to be able to have quality internet coverage, extended pre and post-race, etc. Why can’t they (Bernie) do this?

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