F1 on Channel 4: 2016 live races announced

Channel 4 have announced the 10 races they will be showing live in 2016. How does their selection compare to the BBC’s 2015 output?

We are fast approaching winter testing and the unveiling of Formula One’s 2016 challengers (Sauber are the first to announce they won’t be ready for the first test in Barcelona). Now Channel 4 have announced their package of live races for this year, to be hosted by David Coulthard. The full presenting and commentary team is yet to be revealed.

 

Race
Australia
Bahrain
China
Russia
Spain
Monaco
Canada
Europe (Baku)
Austria
Great Britain
Hungary
Germany
Belgium
Italy
Singapore
Malaysia
Japan
USA
Mexico
Brazil
Abu Dhabi
BBC 2015
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
N/A
Highlights
Live
Live
N/A
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
Live
C4 2016
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Live
Live
Highlights
Live
Live
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Highlights
Live
Highlights
Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does this compare to F1 on terrestrial TV in 2015?

The season-opener in Australia will not be shown live for the second year in a row – perhaps a blessing in disguise for fans who don’t fancy waking up at 5am to catch the action. Last year’s race featured the lowest number of starters (15) for a season-opening race after Danill Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen, sitting in for Fernando Alonso, both failed to make it to the grid, Vallteri Bottas was injured from qualifying and neither Manor Marussia  took part in any of the sessions over the weekend.

The second outing will once again be the first live race of the year, however a shake-up of the calendar for 2016 sees Bahrain take the honour from Malaysia, which is moved back to later in the season. Bahrain was the fourth round of the 2015 season, and other than Daniel Ricciardo’s disastrous engine blow-out as he crossed the finish line was largely forgettable. Hopefully the 2016 race can emulate that of Malaysia, which saw Sebastian Vettel surprise the masses by taking his first win for Ferrari.

The Chinese GP remains a highlights package for 2016, while Russia becomes the fourth round of the season and switches from a live broadcast to highlights on Channel 4. 2015’s outing saw a rollercoaster of a race and a surprise podium for Force India’s Sergio Perez, a repeat of which would be a shame not to be seen live.

Spain in 2015 marked the first win of the season for Nico Rosberg, and Red Bull repeating their threat of quitting the sport at the end of the season. Monaco, famously many of the drivers’ favourite circuit, remains a highlights programme having last been broadcast live in 2012.

The Canadian GP, which had the misfortune this year of being hyped up to such an extent it could only fail to live up to expectations, will not be shown live in 2016. The controversial European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan will make its debut as a live broadcast. The start time has been chosen so as to not clash with Le Mans, but the decision to hold the event on the same weekend prevents drivers inspired by Nico Hulkenburg’s victory on his first attempt from being able to attempt the same.

The Austrian GP remains a highlights package, with the British GP being shown live the following weekend, once again clashing with the Wimbledon Men’s Final. The final two races before the summer break, Hungary and Germany, are live and highlights respectively, perhaps to preempt another last-minute cancellation of the race at Hockenheimring.

Formula One then returns with back-to-back live races of Belgium and Italy, with Singapore’s night race following as a highlights package. After Malaysia, we then have back-to-back highlights races of Japan and the USA – another surprising decision given the quality of the 2015 race. However the rip-roaring crowd of Mexico will be broadcast live this year, before a highlights offering for Brazil and a live final race in Abu Dhabi.

Channel 4 has the unfortunate situation of having less live races than highlights, thanks to the inclusion of the Grand Prix in Baku and the return of the German GP. Last year on the BBC, four of the last six races were shown live on television, perhaps in the hope that the Drivers’ Championship would be won at one of these races (ultimately Lewis Hamilton clinched it at the US Grand Prix, which was shown as highlights). Channel 4 is only showing three of the last six races live, and if Lewis Hamilton has another dominant season and wraps up the title early, they run the risk of it not being shown live for the second year in a row.

Some of the 2015 races leave a lot to be desired in terms of entertainment value – lets hope Channel 4’s live races, and indeed the season as a whole, provide us with the wheel-to-wheel, adrenaline-pumping racing we’ve been missing so dearly.

Which ten races would you have chosen to be shown live?

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