BBC and Sky to share F1 coverage

The BBC will scale back its Formula One coverage next season after a deal with Sky Sports which has secured the rights to show every race live.

The move follows speculation the corporation would pull out of the motorsport altogether for financial reasons.

Under the terms of the agreement it will broadcast half the races and qualifying sessions live - including the British and Monaco Grands Prix - and cover others on a highlights programme.

The six-year deal, running from 2012 until 2018, will see Sky double up on the races shown by the BBC and screen others exclusively.

BBC Radio Five Live's coverage remains unchanged.

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: "We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.

"The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a 10-year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.

"With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence fee payers."

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.

"We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.

"As well as unrivalled build-up to each race on Sky Sports News, we will broadcast in-depth live coverage of every session."

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone branded the deal "super for F1".

"It will mean a lot more coverage for the sport," he told the BBC.

"There will be highlights as well as live coverage on two different networks now, so we get the best of both worlds."

Under the current Concorde Agreement - the commercial arrangement which binds together the teams, commercial rights holders CVC and motor sport's world governing body the FIA - a clause stipulates F1 must be free to air.

Mr Ecclestone is expected to argue that the contract has not been broken because half of the races will still be screened on the BBC.

BBC commentator Martin Brundle said he was "not impressed" by the news.

The former driver tweeted: "Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet I'm out of contract, will calmly work through options Not impressed."

Jake Humphrey, who presents the BBC's coverage, said the corporation had "no option" but to accept the deal.

Speaking on Chris Moyles Radio 1 Breakfast Show, he said: "I guess it's a money thing. Yes it will be a money thing which is what this whole situation is about.

"I don't want people to say 'Why did the BBC give up on F1?'

"They basically had no option. The amount of money the BBC have now is now what they had to spend a few years ago."