One of the key questions posed to Sky Sports F1 lately on Twitter has gone along the lines of “will you be screening testing?”. The answer, at the moment, is unknown, the channel seemingly secretive about any coverage information.
As of writing, the only thing we know is that The F1 Show will be returning each Friday from February 15th. When that announcement was made, the article in question said “The F1 season kicks off on Sky Sports with The F1 Show on 15 February followed by coverage of all three February tests and car launches.” At the time, on this blog, I pointed out the inaccuracy in that sentence, as test one at Jerez and the car launches take place before February 15th. That inaccuracy is still there on the page as I write.
So, what else is Sky Sports F1 doing? The answer appears to be, not much. Schedules released, up to and including February 9th indicate that it is just 2012 repeats on a loop. Which is more than disappointing in my opinion. Let me state now that I don’t expect the channel to screen every minute of testing live, something like that is pure fantasy and never realistically going to happen. Plus, I don’t imagine many people would want to sit through live testing for an entire day. The last two days of testing, coincidentally fall on a Saturday and Sunday, so live coverage may be worth considering – depending on demand and how the ‘story of testing’ has gone down until that point.
Something more realistic in my opinion would be a thirty minute show each evening with Ted Kravitz and the Sky Sports News person on location rounding up the days events. It doesn’t need to be anything ground breaking, but just something to bring everything together for the F1 fan who has been unable to keep an eye on things during the day, a few interviews, a bit of analysis and paddock gossip interspersed with a few clips, and job done.
In terms of car launches, nothing is scheduled on Sky Sports F1. On Sky Sports News however, they will be covering it. They will also be covering testing, with live reports from Rachel Brookes and Craig Slater during testing, like they did in 2012. Whilst their coverage was very good, for the Formula 1 fan, who just wants the Formula 1 pieces all in one place, this is effectively useless. Most of the time they are live, I (and others) will be at University and at work, and I don’t think many will want to fast-forward through eight hours of recording to get to the F1 bits. It would be much better placed on Sky Sports F1 as one show with all the clips bundled into a show later on – or as a live standalone show like I noted above.
Sky will probably argue that their Sky Sports News coverage is enough and will cover the main points, or that testing does not justify extensive coverage on Sky Sports F1. I’m afraid I disagree, Formula 1 will be on Sky Sports News, yet their dedicated Formula 1 channel will still be in repeats mode? That sounds incredibly like backwards logic to me. Also, why bother having the channel on-air if it is going to remain dormant? It may be that they are going to announce something definite regarding testing and the car launches really late. But even so, it is disappointing that we are being kept in the dark about their plans. Hopefully more coverage will be announced soon, but with two weeks before the first test, it does not look highly likely.
Update on January 20th – Doing a few look arounds’ on the Sky Sports website to see if I can dig up anything more, I noticed this side bar note on an article they published on Thursday: “From dawn to dusk, Sky Sports Online will be providing live interactive commentary from trackside at both Jerez and Barcelona on every day of testing this winter, while Sky Sports News will be providing regular live updates from the tests, starting with Jerez on February 5-8.” The title of the side bar note is titled “Testing on Sky Sports F1″, yet the description shows that nothing of the sort will be on Sky Sports F1 aside from The F1 Show starting on February 15th after test one. Regular live updates is, as I noted above, similar to last year with Rachel Brookes or Craig Slater alongside Ted Kravitz every so often giving an update on proceedings. I’ll update the blog if anything changes.
Update on January 26th – Sky have added a 15 minute round-up show to each day at 21:00, not live but just edited together from the day. Hopefully this is actually 15 minutes long and not 7/8 minutes of content in a 15 minute slot. Now whether that is enough for a dedicated Formula 1 channel is open to interpretation. I’ve outlined my thoughts on that clearly above.