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India ready to spice up Formula 1

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Sarah Holt | 06:00 UK time, Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The glamorous globetrotters of Formula 1 will stop in South Asia for the first time this week as India makes its debut on the grand prix calendar.

There is a real sense of anticipation within the sport that the race outside the capital city of Delhi will add some spice to the season now both championships have been settled - as well as introducing a new global powerbroker into F1.

"It's a historic and symbolic moment," enthused Narain Karthikeyan, India's first F1 driver, who returns to a seat at the HRT team this weekend.

"Never did I think there would be Indian race in Formula 1 and never did I think I'd be in it. It's going to be the biggest day of my career."

Despite spreading east and west, it has taken F1 more than 60 years to make its way to the world's second most populous nation.

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The sport's first appearance in India was back in 1982, when the Force India team's co-owner Vijay Mallya, then a young businessman with a fascination for fast cars, drove Nelson Piquet's 1978 Ensign in a series of events around India.

But despite Mallya's early foray, the sport's commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, waited until the mid-nineties before pursuing plans to add India to the calendar. An agreement to stage the race in Greater Noida, a new city outside Delhi, was finally reached four years ago.

Unusually for a new entrant on the F1 calendar, government is not committing any funds to the grand prix. Instead it is a private venture funded by construction specialists the Jaypee Group, which has spent £205m on the new track alone.

Organising the grand prix is the firm's first foray into sport but, despite F1's notoriously high price tag, Jaypee views the project as a strong investment.

The Buddh International Circuit - designed by Ecclestone's favoured architect, Hermann Tilke - has been devised as the centre piece of an ambitious 'Sports City', which will include hockey and tennis stadiums - pitches have already been dug in for a state-of-the-art cricket stadium.

Building cricket stadiums for the sport's devoted Indian audience can be viewed as a pretty safe bet but India's appetite for F1 is more of an unknown quantity.

"You cannot compare F1 with cricket in India because cricket is like a religion," explained president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India Vicky Chandhok, who described himself as Ecclestone's "eyes" in India.

"But F1 is a vibrant sport, it oozes glamour, it oozes sex and we have the perfect audience - the youngest population in the world are in India."

Karthikeyan, who first saw F1 when a friend bought him a 1989 season review video, agrees the sport should not try to compete for the cricket audience.

"F1 is definitely not watched by the same demographic as cricket," he said. "The urban areas are where F1 is most popular, among people who like technology.

"They have other things on their mind in the predominantly rural areas; where there are farmers, I don't the connection with F1 is that big, whereas cricket is accessible to everyone."

Who F1 will appeal to is one thing but the other big question is how many?

The Indian potential audience is huge, with a population of 1.18 billion. However, a large population and a growing economy does not necessarily make for a receptive audience - as has been proved by the lacklustre response to the Chinese Grand Prix, which has been running for eight years but still struggles to attract a crowd.

Before the Indian GP, it is estimated that 27m Indians tune in to watch F1.

ESPN Star Sports is the sport's sole broadcaster in India - although eight national news channels have also been accredited for the race - and F1 is included in part of a satellite subscription package which Karthikeyan says costs less than a pound a month.

Television audiences for the first Indian GP are expected to rise above 30m, with an estimated 200,000 expected to watch from the grandstands over three days.

The novelty of the first race is bound to lure in a new audience but sustaining both interest and growth in F1 when the circus leaves town is a different challenge.

Thousands of fans turned out in Bangalore to meet McLaren star Lewis Hamilton

On the plus side, motorsport has some established some roots, with national karting and rallying championships already in place as well as a three-tiered single-seater series powered by engine manufacturer Suzuki, whose subsidiary Maruti Suzuki is India's biggest car manufacturer.

Chandhok, whose son Karun is the Team Lotus reserve and only the second F1 driver from India, is confident the GP will spark new interest.

"I honestly think there is going to be a huge boom in motorsport," he said. "People like Karun really struggled to make it because of the [lack of] financial backing but the next generation will find it easier."

Karthikeyan is more cautious: "It could go two ways; one like the Korean Grand Prix where it happens, there is some attention and then nothing happens in any form of motorsport for the rest of the year.

"Or it could be like Malaysia where, after F1 arrived, there is a huge interest in the lower formulae and a lot of motorsport is going on there in a big way.

"There are lot of kids who will see the race in India and want to emulate the drivers."

Force India, who regard the grand prix as an "emotional" home race, have launched their own academy to help ensure the Indian GP is not the only outlet for Indian talent.

"There are three sectors," explained deputy team principal Robert Fearnley. "The first is the one-in-a-billion search for an Indian driver, the second is the idea to help bright young Indian aerodynamicists and mechanical engineers through university and the third is a vocational plan to bring in technicians and mechanics."

There is also confidence that F1 and India will go on to forge mutually beneficial commercial partnerships.

Sauber's Indian-born chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn says: "It was always a bit of a mystery why we couldn't attract Indian companies.

"Because the Indian market is so big, most products and brands didn't necessarily see beyond their boundaries, but now they can use F1 as a platform and we offer our partners something additional if India is a big market for them. It's a win-win situation."

There are, then, a lot of expectations weighing on the first Indian GP, whether it is winning the hearts and minds of a nation, acting as a catalyst for grassroots motorsport or building new global business partnerships.

But there is also a warm confidence that F1 and India are only at the beginning of a fulfilling, new relationship - and there should be some fun to be had too.

"I think you'll enjoy it," smiled Karthikeyan. "You'll be in good hands."


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think that the Indian GP will be a good thing for India regarding motorsport.
    they already have established national formulae, much like Europe, Japan, Australia, and the Americas, but it is given negligible media coverage over here. if the Grand Prix is a success we may well see hightened media coverage of Indian series and more of their drivers hitting the European scene and making the steps into international motorsport

  • Comment number 2.

    I hope it's a good race and is embraced well, unlike Turkey or China where no one turns up. I don't know what the track layout is like, I'll guess I'll have to wait until the practice sessions.

    What's the time difference between us and them?

  • Comment number 3.

    I really hope this doesn't turn into another Korea. The atmosphere there is so dry the boredom actually manages to transfer itself into my living room!

    Malaysia's a good model to try to emulate, they had huge audiences for the first race, and then, because they sustained it with lower racing classes as well as Moto GP, to take F1 away from Malaysia now seems criminal, just as much as to take away the German GP, for example.

    RIP Simoncelli.

  • Comment number 4.

    Will wait and see what they come up with, though I do hope it's good as after 20 years there's only three GP's left before it's over as far as I'm concerned. At least for Bernie, there's a potential 1.2b more viewers, but with 27m already watching F1 there, even only at a cost of $1 dollar, no wonder he dosen't give a flying.. about the British viewers. But I wonder how long it will be before they're asked to cough-up £600 to watch the races? Anyhow, tis all academic now the BBC has done the dirty with Sky. As I said, 3 races left, hope there good, but to be honest, not sure I really care anymore.

    No to Sky

  • Comment number 5.

    Looking forward to the race, 3 more to go. From next season F1 will not be one of those programmes that I plan my day around, instead it will have to fit in when I remember its on, a real shame.

  • Comment number 6.

    Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan reckons it is going to be a "surreal experience" driving in the first Indian Grand Prix this week. The HRT driver commented on the high-speed, undulating circut: "There are points at which, if you're in an F1 car, you will see nothing but the sky."

    We know how you feel Narain, all we can see is Sky as well.

  • Comment number 7.

    Love the way Red Bull make this ad with Webber spinning out, and then they have the cheek to say they don't favour Sebastian...

  • Comment number 8.

    There seems to be a lot of interest in India in the build up to the grand prix which is good. Just as long as the high ticket prices aren't pricing most people out of having a chance to go to the race.

    A $1 per month subscription channel, at that price you can be sure it's name wasn't Sky.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I love new things in F1. Just hope the novelty doesn't wear off too quickly for the fans or the Indian group that are funding it.

    And if it's a flop, you can bet your bottom dollar it is one that the BBC gets next year.

  • Comment number 10.

    Should be an intresting race, always is with a new track. 3 races to go before I give up on F1.

    No to sky. Shame on the BBC.

  • Comment number 11.

    Another exciting round of international financial development courtesy of F1 PLC.

    No to Sky.

  • Comment number 12.

    Another Herman Tilke track, long staright into hairpin, Boring Herman Boring. cant he think of anything better. look at the circuit of the Americas for next year, Does that guy only have a straight edge and a set square in his pencil case, some one should introduce him to the french curve to add another dimension to his track design.

  • Comment number 13.

    1.espnstarsports the broadcaster is partly owned by sky and it's not a dollar for a month.....
    We In India get a better deal for the sports coverage...I get all the f1 ,football (pl ,ucl,la liga&serie a),all the cricket,rugby all in HD in under 5£a month

  • Comment number 14.

    Is the circuit actually ready yet? I was over there earlier this year and even my local Greater Noida taxi driver didn't have a clue where it was!

    If not they might have to jack up the suspension and pop some off-roading knobbly tyres on the cars!

    No Sky for me.

  • Comment number 15.

    Should be an intresting race, normally is with a new track.

    3 races to go before giving up on F1 unless the BBC show full reruns of all the non live races for 2012.

    Yes to terristrial TV

  • Comment number 16.

    The Last Two races I have watched but not watched if you get what i mean :)

    I have just lost interest on the sport knowing it is all over from the end of this season as I won`t be watching on SKY, I found myself watching and thinking what we will be missing next year.

    BBC I hope the deal is blocked as illegal under competition law and you are forced to continue the remainder of your contract that you committed too with OUR MONEY.

    No To SKY

  • Comment number 17.

    For all those who are concerned whether this might turn out to be like Korea or Turkey , you need not worry . Rest assured , the crowd is going to be fantastic . I barely get time from football and cricket , so I am not a F1 fan , but my friends and me were amongst the first ones to buy those precious tickets . It's definitely going to be house full , and we are looking forward to the event very eagerly , thanks to Jaypee , and F1 , we get to witness a race live , for the first time for most of my friends , second time for me . The track seems awesome , and as the race is preceded by a METALLICA concert , this is going to be a very exciting weekend for the youth in Delhi , especially those like us who are going to watch it all LIVE . Thank you F1 . And we pray like crazy Force India gets a few points in this one .

  • Comment number 18.

    Just reading on the main website that there may well be a second USA race in 2013. I really don't see the need for that. The USA public weren't exactly over-impressed by the Indianapolis races (remember the embarassing tyre issue skeleton grid a few years back). I wonder if it could mean the loss of a European event? I think there are now more races on the continent of Asia as there are in Europe.

  • Comment number 19.

    What a kick in the teeth for Chandok. It seems so at odds with F1's marketing strategy to not have two Indian drivers in the race.

    I think Lotus/Caterham are missing a big opportunity.

  • Comment number 20.

    erm, let me think.............NO TO SKY!!!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    I am very excited to see the new Indian circuit this weekend on BBC. I have read with interest the statistics in the blog, and now realise that 6.5 million British fans missing F1 on Sky is meaningless in the face of the actual and potential Indian viewership. Big business cars for dollars, not people. Shame.


  • Comment number 22.

    Excellent, well done India.

    Shame I won't be seeing it next year.

    No to Sky!

  • Comment number 23.

    F1 races should be more European based, and the general erosion of the European races is disappointing. If I'm not wrong there are 8 teams based in Britain, 2 in Italy, 1 in Switzerland and 1 in Spain. The biggest audience is in Europe and the biggest enthusiasm for the sport is there too. I'm all for expanding horizons but the rights holders should be doing what is best for the sport, not just for money.

    I never look forward to the races in the East to be honest.

  • Comment number 24.

    THe Auditor: A dollar for satellite subscription certainly sounds nuts but again as I said, sports fans seem to be a niche market in this country and those that don't want to watch sport are people as well. Added to the Indian stats, yeah..perfect storm for British F1 fans...but one I saw coming at some point, albeit not this soon.

    I'm just sorry for the Indians that the title race has been wrapped up early but in terms of timezones it will certainly be a wierd one to watch. Race starts at one..9am GMT, BBC's show probably starting at 8.

  • Comment number 25.

    Let's hope everyone gives Narain plenty of space this weekend so he can get round and the car holds up.

  • Comment number 26.

    Shows start 08.30am, so qualifying/racing at 09.30am. India has an odd time zone that's out of kilter by half and hour with most of the other countries of the world.

  • Comment number 27.

    NB: don't forget to put your clocks back by an hour when you go to bed on Saturday night.

  • Comment number 28.

    Season is over apart from the runners up spots so little excitement involved now sadly. Still never mind, hopefully it will be better next year................... ah, hang on, thanks to an underhand BBC deal with SKY we won't be able to see the race.

    Good 'ol BBC - always with the viewers interest at heart eh lol

    btw I see MB is going to sign for SKY. No surprise there but still a disappointment. Thanks indeed BBC..................

  • Comment number 29.

    No to Sky

  • Comment number 30.

    Amidst all the hype and supposed excitement of the new Indian GP, it seems a shame that we are introducing more anaemic Tilke-designed, poorly attended, non-entities whilst brilliant tracks like San Marino disappear from the calendar. For a tenth - probably for a hundredth - the cost of this new venue, San Marino could have been revamped and re-layed, providing what was always a fantastic race. Anyone remember Alonso vs Schuey in '05 and the rematch in '06? Now, remind me again what happened in Turkey or China or Singapore this year ....

  • Comment number 31.

    Well apparently the cheapest option for BBC is to buy sky's audio feed, so hopefully the entire team will head to sky oust boring old Jardine and keep an award winning team together, but i wouldn't bet on it although i'm sure Tony Jardine could tell us the odds, i'm pretty sure the only thing Karthikeyan will be seeing wont be sky but lots of rear wings and blue flags (I'm sure he's got talent just it would take more than talent to do do any good in a HRT car)

  • Comment number 32.

    @30 - Richard

    At China this year Lewis drove a fantastic race pulling off many overtakes as he went on to win the race. A race that Lewis himself described at the time as one of his best. At Turkey Webber and Alonso had a very good battle for second throughout the race and the race had many overtakes throughout the field due to the long DRS zone. And who can forget Turkey last year when Vettel crashed into Webber and Button and Lewis almost crashed before Lewis held him off for a nice win. Does any of this jog your memory?

    I am looking forward to seeing what kind of racing India can produce. Hopefully the close performance of each of the three top teams can give us something to get excited about on an unknown track.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think we've already had 16 races this year and Mark Weber in the best car hasn't won a single one of them. Turns out that he wasn't far off the mark when he remarked "Not bad for a Number 2 driver" at Silverstone 2010. He hasn't won any race since 1 August 2010. That's 23 races without a win. Vettel's racked up 13 victories in the same period. It can't all be bad luck can it?

  • Comment number 35.

    i could see in a few years time a f1 split 1 for Europe and 1 for Rest of the world

    thing is, its all good having these fly away races most of the drivers are from Europe or have been based in Europe since they were little, we used to have loads more European races, again Bernie is selling out (surprise surprise)

  • Comment number 36.

    @ spongebricknick. I don't think it's so much of a question of Bernie Ecclestone selling out. I see the moves beyond Europe more as attempts to be innovative and to actually grow/expand the sport. Every business has to continually look for new opportunities for success. There's a real danger of stagnation by sticking with predominately European races and not moving forward with the rest of the world. I'd also add my belief that countries and audiences outside the established markets ought, provided they meet the right conditions, to have as much access to Formula 1 as anywhere else.

  • Comment number 37.

    @36 Good afternoon Mr Baggage.

    While I have to agree with your last sentence referring to not segregating corners of the F1 world into the haves and have nots. I would like to think that F1's home is predominantly a European thing, much like the Indy Car series being very very American thing, but still branching out worldwide.

  • Comment number 38.

    #6 - "We know how you feel Narain, all we can see is Sky as well".

    :) Very good sir, polite round of applause.

  • Comment number 39.

    @excessbaggage - I have no problem with races outside Europe as i think there is some amazing tracks around such as Albert Park, Montreal, Interlagos etc however with over half the current races been out of Europe (half if you dont include Bahrain) and with 2x USA to come in does that mean we lose more European GP's Turkey was a great track I know due to crowd it has been dropped but what next????

  • Comment number 40.

    #38 - hear, hear.

    As for #36, surely the British licence fee payer has as much right to F1 as anyone else, why should we be punished for things beyond our control and the greed of others? That is our greivance - 'If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything' - to coin a phrase

  • Comment number 41.

    Well let's see, and give them a chance.

    The circuit is a lot more interesting than some might fear.

    All F1 fans should embrace bringing the sport to an important country. They might just like it. ok, China, S Korea, Turkey haven't embraced it, but as ANOP said, Malaysia did. Try everywhere and give it a go. Still think it's a shame France isn't on the calendar anymore when there are 2 Spanish races.

  • Comment number 42.

    It will be interesting to see how F1 catches on in India; the people there definitely seem up for it and Force India seems to have attracted huge fan support with both their on-track performance and off-track publicity. Their engineering support program sounds a good idea, and as a mechanical engineering student I'd jump at the chance if something like that came up in the UK.

    At the risk of attracting some flak here, I've got to say I'm a bit tired of the whole anti-sky/bbc thing. Yes it's disappointing for many people but I don't think it needs to keep coming up in all the blogs on the site; the message has been well and truly conveyed by the fans by now. It's certainly spoiled my enjoyment of a great season, especially the people that are acting like F1 itself is folding up at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 43.

    @42 Give it two years and then tell me F1 isn't folding in the UK

  • Comment number 44.

  • Comment number 45.

    @42. I agree with your sentiments; the problem is that the BBC has spent 4 months, ignoring, then censoring and now through its DG belittling the views of many, many F1 supporters, fta viewers and licence fee tax payers.

    In such circumstances there are no other options, except to keep quiet and accept that it is ok for the BBC to ignore those who fund it! To do so would be to acquiesce and that cannot happen.

  • Comment number 46.

    SirAdam: If British F1 fandom folds in two years time then it'll do so alongside a lot of other sports that are considered 'niche'/a luxury the country can't afford in this country/whatever. The cultural conditions that led to the move to Sky are bigger than just F1.

  • Comment number 47.

    @4 Well said Johanna
    @5 Nice one Proverbial
    @9 Right on Sir Adam
    @16 Way to go Shaggy

    Let's not all forget that as Shaggy UK said in @16, that this deal is most probably illegal. Also although it is a sham, we all still need to fill in their DQF consultation, citing as many things about losing F1 as we can in the answers?

    You can find a lot of support at:

    Anyone who has not made it, come on over.

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh I forgot to mention, that is all we are going to see is Sky next year... so no F1 on Sky & yes to F1 on FTA.

    The BBC DQF consultation is at:

    Please fill it in. The more who are against this deal who express themselves the better. Thanks......

  • Comment number 49.

    Anyone that think's they're bored of us discussing the BBC\Sky fiasco, then that's fine, but as there is no other forum for us to air our displeasure, then I do apologise. But please read quote at end of #40. We British have for too long bent over and have been happy to receive the corporate length, but not me, no more, sorry.

  • Comment number 50.

    Is there anybody from India, who is into F1 racing etc and has relatives over in India, who are also into F1?

    With such a strong and big potential market of fans, we could do with your support. Please contact me on the Facebook group page in @47 above.....Thanks

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm Indian & really looking forward to the race at the weekend...hope it will be a cracker but can somebody please explain to me whats this " No to SKY " thing?

  • Comment number 52.

    #51, sure others can explain better, but to be brief, we pay £146 per year to be allowed to watch tele, and with that we have been able to watch F1 for decades, now the BBC, who had a contract till end of next year to show the F1 have sold their half of the deal to Sky (a satelite company owned by corporation that have been linked to phone hacking of muder victims and many other iffy things) without letting anyone else bid. Next year to watch a full season we have to pay £146 and a further £600 to Sky to watch a full season. In all about $1000 per year (sorry if I'm not up to date on exchange rates) Basically it's all to line Berine's pockets.

  • Comment number 53.

    I actually like to see F1 moving into new territories. I'm really looking forward to India this weekend. Some new GP's turn out to be duds but then you get a gem like Singapore. There's as least one race in Europe, somewhere near Valencia that could be dispensed with to facilitate yet another new race somewhere.

    btw. If you actually want to see these new races live from 2012 onwards, make sure you tell the BBC Trust what you think in their online consultation.

  • Comment number 54.

    #52 Oh boy thats way too expensive I get to see all of F1,BPL,La Liga,UCL & virtually every other sporting event for not even one-tenth of that amount...

  • Comment number 55.

    @51 & @54 Fergie_Time

    Yes @52 Johanna Cup Cake:
    Explained it well. But what has also happened, is that the good old BBC, which used to be the sign of integrity, Fairness and the Buldog Spirit has resorted to censoring comments & blogs, just like a Dictaorship. They had 14,000 comments & complaints within 5 days of this deal being announced and then decided to close down the BBC F1these related Blogs, saying amongst other things, that F1 was 'Off Topic', on a F1 Blog.

    In the past 11 weeks or so, since this deal was announced, they have had many more complaints & comments, but keep choosing to ignore them. Just like an Ostrich with his head in the sand. That's why I would ask you to vote in our twopetitions & encourage any one else, (Friends & Family), that you know, here in the UK; or in India, who know more people of Indian descent living in the UK to also vote. Ther are a lot of other ways to put in a protest. That is by filling in the BBC Trust's Consultation Form and siging the petition, that this deal is most probably illegal. You can speak to like minded F1 fans on the Facebook Group page. Please see: @48 and @ 47 and @16 above.

    Ther is an Official Goverment E-Petition to be signed as well:

    You can also write to your MP, to ask him to support the Culture, Media & Sports Select Committe, who will be questioning the BBC in December. For a full update, please do come on over to our Facebook Group, where I/we can chat without fear of getting our comments censored and/or deleted.
    We are a very friendly bunch who will give you all the gen that you will need to make whatever decision you want to.. Thanks

  • Comment number 56.

    hopfully Schummi wins the indian gp

    he is by far the best driver F1 has ever seen and hopefully ever will see a dont see anyone ever been better. 21 years without a championship for ferrari and he does for them. no one would go from a red bull to a williams today not even FA, LH, JB, or SV, Schummi the best their is the best their was and the best their ever will be. come on india show us a great race

  • Comment number 57.

    @52 johannacupcake, perfectly brilliantly explained.
    It's such a crazy decision and massive price hike it makes you laugh until you realise that it is true, it's really happening like that, that's their plan for the UK viewers.

    The only thing I would add is that the BBC tried to sell it as a great deal for UK F1 fans. Something is not right when Beeb Babs Slater is 'absoultely delighted' with the deal and the main man Martin Brundle said it had been 'torpedoed'.

    I could understand Brundle doing a deal with SkyBetF1, especially after what he contributed to the BBC viewership and what his Beeb bosses did to his team, but he's surely got to be looking at a short term contract as when audiences collapse Sky may bin it as they did last time, or as with Sky in Germany.

    @12 Kris
    "Tilke track...Boring....Does that guy only have a straight edge and a set square in his pencil case"
    LOL. I really hope the Indian track gives good racing, Tilke's track record is not good (sorry). His tracks are usually so flat and wide F1 looks sloooooow on TV and I'm sick of a boring race but being told how great the paddock and team facilities are.

    Next year it's RTLwith 5live commentary for me, but there surely is a market for them to do some English commentary say on an interactive button or one channel mono, and maybe pull in some advertising sponsors that want to target the new UK viewers!

    I see Bernie's daughter is 'stepping out of his shadow' :) and has her own TV show Billion Dollar Girl. I heard there was a promo shot of her lying on a bed of her own money naked in high heels, allegedly the best of make-up artists had her looking like a drag version of Megan Fox. Is this one part of the reason behind his greed?
    She said "I think there are so many misconceptions about me. People constantly assume the worst in you and just think that you're like a pointless, really spoilt, probably quite stupid, vacuous, empty human being." It's more likely hardly anyone thought that love, ...until you made a TV show about yourself, Bernie must be so proud.

    Also, I see the race starts at 15:00 Indian time, 9:30 Uk time, didn't realise there were half hour time differences, and with a clock change thrown in as well ;)

    Finally, rest in peace Marco, MotoGP will be poorer without your on the edge skill and style, bit like F1 was without Gilles.

  • Comment number 58.

    It's tragic that Chandhok hasn't got a drive at his home GP and that this is due to a lack of financial backing.

    F1 is going down a sad road, where TV deals are dished out to the company (or coalition) delivering the most cash, not the most viewers. Where the best drivers are sidelined (e.g. Hulkenberg) due to a lack of personal financial sponsorship.

    F1 and FOTA need to think hard about the long term future of F1 - I am the same age as Lewis Hamilton and have been a fan since the days of Brundle, Prost and Senna. Yet this year's race in Sao Paulo will mark the end of my interest in F1. It also marks the end of my support for the BBC and its mandatory licence fee.

  • Comment number 59.

    Dear Sarah,

    Good blog again, thanks, can you please answer a question and let me know when BBC Sport plan to release details on their 2012 season coverage?

    Following on from that question, I'd like to understand the specifics so can you please get someone at BBC Sport to answer:

    1) Which of the ten F1 races will the BBC not be covering live or showing in full later that day?

    2) Are BBC re-signing Martin Brundle and David Coulthard, or is this part of the F1 cuts as well?

    3) Do BBC managment plan to make further year on year cuts to the F1 coverage throughout the duration of the deal?

    4) Are BBC doing red button F1 forums next year?

    5) If Bahrain GP 2012 does not go ahead and there are 19 races, will BBC be showing 9 races live (i.e. will the BBC be showing less than half F1 2012 races live?)

    I look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.

    Yours sincerely, StevieBBC.

  • Comment number 60.

    #18: I'd much rather have a second race in the US, where if properly marketed they will attract great crowds. Indeed, I'd love to think that F1 is finally ready to take on Indycar (a minority interest other than the Indy 500) and Nascar in their own back yard. An Americas "mini-season" would be great - Canada, NJ, Austin, Mexico, Brazil. I'd even go so far as to suggest additional races in the US. Unfortunately the new NJ race probably rules out Watkin's Glen, but a return to Indianapolis and a new race on the Daytona road course (as used for the Daytona 24hrs) would be preferable to poorly attended races on identikit circuits in countries with zero motorsport tradition.

  • Comment number 61.

    #23: Sure, with more than 60% of the worlds population in the east or more, why would the rights holders bother with Asia?.......I can assure you a lot of people (apart from yourself) are looking forward to something they have never seen before....and by the way, I am in India and can see it first hand! As for the financial aspect.....well maybe Asia can afford it and Europe can no longer!

  • Comment number 62.

    Hard to get excited about anything F1 at the moment, 3 more races to go and it's the end of my love affair with the sport. Thanks for nothing BBC.



  • Comment number 63.

    To all the drama queens moaning about F1 coming to an end after this season, please give it a rest, i'm fed up reading the same nonsense time after time. Me and everyone I know has Skysports as i'm sure most of the moaners do also. Why don't you give it a chance and come back 12 months from now and see how you feel.

  • Comment number 64.

    @jimmyboo1877 63.

    I'm 21, I don't have Skysports and I don't have the spare cash in my monthly budget to afford it.

    Why should I stop complaining about the BBC backing out of a done deal that was paid for with my licence fee?

  • Comment number 65.

    #52. I think your explanation of the situation is incorrect. As I understand it, the BBC had the exclusive rights until the end of 2013 NOT 2012. This is what made me so angry. They gave them away two years before they needed to. Murdoch must have thought all his Christmases had come at once. ITV, C4 and even C5 were all interested and could have put in exclusive bids for 2014 onwards, had they been given the chance.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hmm well the latest two blogs open (this one and Andrew Benson's) aren't showing on the F1 Blog page. I have tweeted Jake to ask him to prod the web team.

    Good luck for your first F1 GP India - shame that it doesn't look like Karun will get to drive his home GP.

    No to Sky
    No to F0.5
    Yes to full season Live FTA on the BBC (or if not C4, or even shared between BBC and C4)
    Shame on the BBC for this deal and covering up by blocking FOI requests.

  • Comment number 67.

    Nice to see yet another series of posts decending into YET ANOTHER rant about "No to Sky!" - just for once i'd like to see this stay on topic.

    I'll be watching F1 on Sky TV because unlike most of you , i'm loyal enough to my sport to pay the money to watch it and continue to support it. As for those of you who dont want to pay for Sky TV - feel free to be stuck with the highlights as and when BBC can be bothered to show them around repeats of Eastenders.

    I'll enjoy my live coverage thanks.

    No to People complaining about Sky

  • Comment number 68.

    @ 67. Bestyboy

    Some people cannot afford Sky - what about this do you not understand? £500+ is not pennies to everyone.

  • Comment number 69.

    To tell the truth, I'm not really that interested in the indian GP. My own view is that F1 should be predominantly a European sport that has a few races around the world. Japan, USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia are enough. The cost of moving all of that equipment around must be huge. As soon as a sport becomes so focused on money, as F1 is becoming, the common fan starts to be pushed aside. Look at football: The last time I went to a game it cost £14! How much is a ticket now? The cost of live matches is too much, and no one should be paid £100,000-£200,000 A WEEK to play. I have been watching F1 since the early 80's so feel sad that it is being taken away. I am dissapointed that some of the BBC team may be working for Sky, if it were me, I wouldn't do it but hay....what do I know. No more sitting in doors on a Sunday when the weathers nice. No more getting up at 6a.m for a race. Sad but liberating.

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm looking forward to the race this weekend, the track looks ok, even if the fast sections are all 'point and squirt' (why can't somw of the new tracks be fast and flowing like silverstone of suzuka?)

    However...... I know the BBC are trying to save money, but the least you could do is spend 5 or 10 mins proof reading your work before publishing it!

    Is this the kind of lazy, sloppy approach we can expect now that the BBC aren't the sole broadcaster?


  • Comment number 71.

    @16 anyone who has signed the petition at can you please confirm with the email you have received as there are a number of unverified signatures which will not count unless verified.


  • Comment number 72.

    @68 - £500 isnt pennies to me either - I make sacrifices on a monthly basis to be able to afford my Sky Sports subscription. You have the ability to do the same, if you're unwilling or unable to do so then i'm sorry , it looks like you'll be stuck with second class coverage from the BBC for Formula 1.
    All our television licence fee's are paying for the television centre to be relocated from London to Manchester and for us to be saddled with some of the dross and drivel the BBC seems to be content to produce constantly - I for one would gladly stop paying the £12 a month for my TV licence if it meant i was only unable to watch the BBC.

    I'm sorry to all of those of you who dont want to pay for your Formula 1 coverage - maybe we'll be offered a "Match of the Day" type programme by the beeb - that seems to be all the football we're offered - unless its Accrington Stanley vs Rushden in the FA Cup.

    If the BBC listened to its viewers - maybe we wouldnt be in the situation of having to pay for Formula 1. As it is - we are - and i for one dont have a problem with it.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Another Boring Tilke track no doubt. Still it looks nice on the TV and lines Bernies pockets soit must be good.

    Yes to RTL and TF-1 on Free to air satellite.

  • Comment number 75.

    StevieBBC: Good question. Last I checked if the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix goes the same way as this year's one(and this is potentially a much bigger issue for F1 than the BBC-Sky mess) then Turkey(currently not on the calender) will step in to replace it.

    Either way, there will be 20 Grand Prix in 2012.

  • Comment number 76.

    @72 You are spectacularly missing the point.

    It's not a case that people don't want to pay for F1. Many cannot. There are a large number of households in the UK that for various reasons are not allowed a satellite dish. And there is an even larger number who are not affluent middle class folk, and do not have that kind of spare cash.

    So in summary of your comment; I'm glad that your parents buy a Sky Sports subscription for you, but it isn't that simple for the rest of us.

    Yes to RTL with 5Live, but I shouldn't have to.

  • Comment number 77.

    Couldnt help laughing out loud @76

    For the record, i'm a thirty five year old man with a mortgage and a job. I pay out hundreds of pounds every month just the same as you do and i still afford my Sky Sports subscription, i want to watch sport, so i find a way to pay for it.

    So can you.

    If you're living in rented accomodation and "arent allowed to have a satellite dish" or are lucky enough to be able to afford to live in a listed property but "arent allowed to have a satellite dish" or your parents wont pay for your Sky Sports subscription then i'm sorry but you'll be missing out.

    £40 a month isnt that hard to find if you try, maybe one night less per month in the pub for example? Or two less takeaway's? - too many people want too much for free from life, i'm sorry you cant afford it and that you dont like having to pay for your Formula 1 - but dont hate me because i can and will.

  • Comment number 78.

    @77 Glad I could amuse you.

    £40 a month is an awful lot of money, that in the current financial climate, many can not afford. We are seeing more houses repossessed than ever before, more unemployment than in a very long time. And recent studies have proved that more and more children are in poverty than ever before.

    People have quite rightly got their priorities right, and will feed their families and keep the central heating on this winter rather than saving up £40 a month for a subscription service that shows them sport.

    There are over 60 million people in the UK and only 2 million pay to have Sky Sports. What you are talking about is a luxury that the majority can not afford.

    So no I can't have Sky next year or the year after that. And unless something drastically changes in my circumstances, maybe coming into some money, but unfortunately I can only see that happening if someone close to me dies, then I will not be able to afford it.

    The "I'm alright Jack mentality" is all well and good, but please don't preach to people telling them they can afford a service that they can't.

    PS. Shall we have a chat next year when I'll have watched all of the races free on RTL and you have watched them on Sky, and you can feedback your thoughts on paying £40 a month for English commentary.

  • Comment number 79.

    @77 lol, calm down, nobody hates you and no need to go getting things out of proportion ;)

    It's a sport and if you want it ruined by Murdoch then that is your privilege. Many more don't and you'll need to learn how to survive us saying so, just like others manage to survive what you say :)

  • Comment number 80.

    @59 StevieBBC

    I can already answer question number 5 for you. If there is ever an odd number of races... the BBC can only broadcast half of the nearest even number. That, my dear Stevie, is in their delightful contract. Mr Land told me - & quite a few others ;-)

    Ah, 3 races to go. Then... poof! Who would've thought, eh?

    Well, it's not quite over yet.

    Good luck to India.

    UYA Sky.

  • Comment number 81.

    @16. ShaGGy_UK

    Mark Thompson is to answer questions before select committee over concerns about rights to show half of live race coverage.

    Nice to know the BBC have found the money not only to extend wimbledon coverage by another 3 years, but also to pay Kylie Minogue £1 million to be a judge on the £22 million x-factor clone 'The Voice' ... What BBC cuts?

  • Comment number 82.

    I have received the response from the first part of my appeal: the Fair Trade appeal. You can find the complete pdf on this link. This response will be part of the General Appeal for which the response is expected in November.

  • Comment number 83.

    You can run but you can't hide BBC. And don't think the select committee will be the end of it. You will be held to account for your actions.

  • Comment number 84.

    @80 Stee_vee_E

    Thought as much, now I need to change my 'signature' from

    Yes to RTL5Live No To BBCFormula Half
    Yes to RTL5Live No To BBC Formula 0.47

  • Comment number 85.

    Okay, most of my friends have already reponded to some of these comments; but here goes......!!!!!!

    @65 & @ 52 Johanna
    It does not really matter so much on getting the dates wrong/mixed up. What reallly matters is that we are all against this illegal deal. See @16 above....
    As welll as my other posts @47; @48 & @55.
    I am sure I have already askedyou, but will do so again... Why not come and join us on our F1 Facebook Group? We need people like minded people like yourselves..

  • Comment number 86.

    @67 Best Boy
    You must work for the BBC and/or Sky by the sounds of it.
    This blog as well as Andrew Benson' s is about F1. We are talking about F1; therefore as far as I and all true F1 Fans are concerned, (who are against this illegal deal), then these comments of ours are on topic. If you do not like it, then thats your prorogative. We will carry on regardless of your silly & childish comments!

    Just checked out your blog status; I see that you are a true F1 Fan then. You last F1 comment was in March 2011, so need I say more.......
    Also for the record I can afford Sky Sports, like my freind Shaggy_UK @16 can and has Sky Sports, but chooses not too watch F1 on Sky, as he does not want the 29 pieces of Silver & his name is not Judas.

    Before everybody writes & tells me that it was 30 pieces of Silver... Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces, therefore no one is worth nore than 30. I am being kind by allowing any other Modern Day Judas to give the BBC traitors 29 pieces of silver. They shoul be honoured to be so vilified......
    (I also know that some off my F1 friends cannot afford to either buy or are not allowed to put up a dish & I sympathise with them!).
    I hate the BBC for what they have done and will not stoop down and give any money to Murdoch, especially after the Phone Hacking/News of the World revelations... end of..... Perhaps you do not have any scruples being a Judas, then good for you!

    @ 78 Sir Adam
    Well said if this mug at 67 wants to pay Sky & could have got it for free on RTL, then more fool him....I can understand a little German, so if R5 Live are on air great, if not I will survive with the sound off if need be. But No to F1 on Sky & yes to F1 on FTA and/or RTL and R5 Live....

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 82 Piet Boon

    Great thanks very much for this info. You really should consider coming on over to our Facebook group as in @ 47.

    I know you have said no before, (I intially said no to FB & only joined to find the Guardian Angel who saved my Son, when he fell betweeen the train & the platform at Acton Town Station on July 29th 2009). Your expertise would be of great value to us in fighting this illegal deal.... You do not have to be friends & give us any personal info; we can takl to each other via the indirect message system or the person to person message system. You can still be anonymous if you so wish, except for whatever name you use!

  • Comment number 88.

    @82 Piet Boon

    That is excellent, the BBC have admitted they seen ITV and Channel 4 as viable competition and also confirmed they were aware of the proposed Channel 4 bid :)
    This reinforces our angle from the anti-competition point :)
    I now have a contact for legal advice (as advised by the OFT) and will forward on this reply to them.

    BBC watch out 'were a commin' for ya :)

    Don`t forget to sign and remember to verify your signature from within the email you receive otherwise your vote does not count.

  • Comment number 89.

    Mrs Slater pops up today to tell us:

    Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: "We know that Wimbledon fortnight has a very special place in the hearts of the UK public. We are delighted that our new agreement ensures coverage of The Championships remains free to air and available to licence fee payers."

    So what about F1 Grand Prix coverage then eh?

  • Comment number 90.

    As the BBC still had a valid contract to show F1 in 2012, does the fact they have extended the wimbledon contract by three years mean anything, if they deal with it in the same was as they dealt with F1 they could change their minds and walk away from wimbledon at anytime.

    Yes to Terrestrial tv.

  • Comment number 91.

    BNW: The blog is about F1 yes but 'specifically' about the upcoming Indian Grand Prix therefore...

  • Comment number 92.

    #85 ButNowWhat - already there, and have been for sometime, and comment/post. Keep up the sterling work, as they say 'all it takes for evil to triumph, is for the good men to do nothing' or something like that.

    No to Sky, and No to not being able to sit down for a week (see #49)

  • Comment number 93.

    Wow, Holt actually mangaged to write an article without having a pop at Hamilton for a change. Not surprising given the mass of complaints the last few have attracted.

  • Comment number 94.

    But Now What @86: So what you're effectively saying is that all British F1 fans should abandon the sport and endure 20 relatively empty weekends...just for the likes of you! I wouldn't dream of having the arrogance neccersary to make that request.

    The best offer I can make is for you to come round my place and watch the Sky races there.

  • Comment number 95.


  • Comment number 96.

    As part of the new TV deal, I guess the BBC is only allowed to show the weather for 50% of the races. ;-)

  • Comment number 97.

    Apparantly BBC are axeing Strictly Come Dancing because it got more viewers then X Factor last week...
    Shameful BBC.
    No to Sky.

  • Comment number 98.

    cleanlang: If you want to rant on blogs/forums that talk about the BBC/Sky deal then fine. However why should those that just want to talk about, in this case the Indian Grand Prix have to put up with a ton of repetitive posts about the BBC/Sky deal in some cases using accounts that have been set up purely to rant about the BBC/Sky deal. Such behaviour would get you whacked by the mods on most forums if not banned. You lot are being completely disrespectful to those who just want to continue following the sport no matter what it takes.

    I am not betraying or abandoning anything by continuing to follow F1 on Sky, if any friends/family of mine want to come round and watch the races at my place they are welcome! Hell, I'm a decent guy I'd put out an open invite if the system here would allow the private sharing of contact details.

    It is the anti-Sky brigade that are abandoning the sport. You care more about your bank balance and the dreary dailly grind and your unrealistic belief that destroying Sky Sports will give us a full season of F1 back on terrestrial. At least be honest enough to admit it.

  • Comment number 99.

    @98 MGUK82

    You could always go and comment on the sky sports website

  • Comment number 100.

    @98 said like a true BBC or SKY employee ;)


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