Yesterday saw some pretty major news for Formula 1 with the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) issuing an open letter about their concerns over the management of the sport, the decision making and the future direction of the sport.

Click to read the full open letter

The letter was universally well received and the majority of fans and media approved of the points made. All of which are pointing the finger at Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and Formula One Management (FOM).

What will be the outcome? Who knows. Many expect nothing. It’s just a letter. Bernie and FOM won’t listen or be phased by it. We expect his retort to be something along the lines of “I didn’t ask you to race in F1. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. There are plenty of drivers that do”. Classic.

Will the drivers strike? No. The last time that happened was 1982 and modern F1 commercial arrangements, contracts and sponsorship etc would make a drivers strike pretty much impossible. It won’t happen.

And for UK F1 fans

On the same day, Sky issued a press release celebrating their new contract where they will have the exclusive rights to show F1 live from 2019. Which means Channel 4’s new 3 year contract to show half the races live will not be extended, signalling the end of free-to-air live coverage of Formula 1 in the UK.

Except the British Grand Prix, that will be live and free-to-air on the Sky network (we’re unsure how this will work at present). Also highlights of every race will be free-to-air too, but also on the Sky network.

While Sky is celebrating this news, uproar from fans is deafening and being an F1 fan in the UK has just become a very expensive habit.

For those that do have Sky already though, the package has just become better value and the channel has confirmed that they’ll broadcast in Ultra HD from 2017.

While the Sky F1 coverage is very good, it’s a great shame for UK fans to finally lose pretty much all free-to-air live coverage of the sport, something that’s been enjoyed since F1 started being broadcast on the BBC many decades ago.

Back the GPDA

It’s worth noting that the media coverage of the sport was referenced in the open letter, so a slight sense of irony that Sky’s announcement was released on the same day. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Also we can’t help noticing that while every news outlet reported the GPDA letter, one news outlet didn’t. Which one? Sky.

Add your comments below, keep it clean, youngsters read Badger GP too.

Image © Octane Photos
Image © Octane Photos
  1. “……being an F1 fan in the UK has just become a very expensive HABIT.”

    Nail. Head.

    I’ve been thnking this for a while now, am I just watching F1 out of habit? I rarely am excited or entertained by Bernies Circus anymore but I still get my fix every other weekend.

    So, much like any other drug, there comes a point where people do these thigns just because they do, there’s no buzz left from it, it’s just a habit.

    Aussie V8s and the Indycar come with BT Sport, and, per-lap, are infinately more interesting than the Global Rolex series of Corpoate Marketing. Hell, Trophee Andros and WEC on Motors TV makes more compelling viewing!

    • Thanks Brendan. Time to head back to the BTCC, which where I started my enjoyment of motorsport.

      Thing is I can’t give up on F1, so NowTV has a continuing valued customer.

    • That’s the business model unfortunately. Personally I cancelled Sky. Not because of the F1 coverage quality – it’s very good, but because I simply don’t watch enough TV to make paying for Sky worth while.

      I’ll be buying lots of NowTV passes in 2019!

  2. Well the audience figures will be even lower now, so maybe the sponsors will have a say, who knows?
    I was lucky and signed up to sky when it was still just the F1 channel, so it’s good value for me.
    You have to wonder though how compos me this Bernie actually is. Has anyone else noticed his lips moving when someone asks him a question? Very worrying that…

  3. Well, they may get some high payers for Sky but they will seriously reduce their overall coverage (and the sponsors will be seen less) as free-to-air captures many casual watchers who then get ‘into’ it and, in turn, go to the tracks and buy merchandise worldwide. If only the ‘already keen’ get to see it, it will fade in people’s minds – and when Tennis follows suit, no one will know it exists. Short-sighted greed. I for one will not be making the Murdoch/Ecclescake empires (or whoever) any richer. Oh well, at least we still have the biennial local tiddlywinks tournament.

  4. I make this promise. If this proposal goes ahead, I will NOT follow this sport, which has fascinated me since I was a kid in the late 50s, any more. Said with sadness.

    The rather stupid and shortsighted, greedy and destructive decision to sell the broadcast rights to pay-to-view companies has already proved destructive.

    Short term profit for ultra-wealthy individuals is of no interest to me whatsoever.

    So, to put it politely: go forth and multiply the crap which you’re bent on creating.

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