The Sunday Times has claimed the BBC will drop its Formula 1 coverage after the 2013 season.
In a front-page article under the headline “BBC axes Formula 1”, the newspaper quotes an unidentified source claiming the corporation will not bid for an extension of its current contract beyond 2013.
The Sunday Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which has been linked to a potential takeover of Formula 1’s commercial rights.
BBC took over from ITV as Britain’s F1 broadcaster in 2009. Its coverage is also screened in other English-speaking countries to around 50 million viewers in 2010.
The Sunday Times article claims “F1 costs ?é?ú1 a head for every viewer, compared with the average 7p an hour broadcast cost for BBC1 and BBC2. Apart from the British Grand Prix, most races attract only between 2m and 4m viewers.”
According to figures published by the BBC last month, the Monaco Grand Prix saw a peak of 6.1m viewers, an increase of 400,000 on 2010. Some 6.2m people saw the Spanish Grand Prix, an increase of 1.2m over the previous year.