Brundle on pole for switch to Sky

Fallout from TV coup upstages Vettel-Hamilton grid battle

Martin Brundle looks likely to be the main beneficiary when Sky Sports take over as Formula One's main broadcasters from the BBC under the seven-year rights deal revealed last week. Although the commentator tweeted his unhappiness at the news of the switch on Friday, he has quickly emerged as the main target for Rupert Murdoch's team.

Brundle's contract with the BBC expires at the end of the year and yesterday the Hungaroring circuit outside Budapest, venue for today's Hungarian GP, was alive with speculation that the popular broad-caster, who admits he is "calmly working through his options'', will switch microphones next season.

His signature would be a major coup for Sky, who are known to admire the energy and experience he brings to the commentary booth.

Many fans are incensed at the way Sky have muscled in on the action. Nobody knows many of the details, apart from the TV executives and Formula One's ringmaster, Bernie Ecclestone. Even he admits he is still finalising some of them.

It seems likely the impecunious Beeb, anxious to offload a commitment reckoned by insiders to be upwards of £45 million annually as they strive to slice 20 per cent off their costs, approached Sky with a deal that was then taken to Ecclestone. The aftershocks were still being felt yesterday. "Potentially, but based on the reaction on the internet, viewing figures could drop like a stone, as F1 fans aren't prepared to pay, which will mean the sponsors are less willing to pay, which forces the poorer teams [Virgin, HRT, Sauber, Williams] out, which leaves a small grid, which pushes viewing figures down, which attracts fewer fans and the cycle continues," one fan said.

"Football survived because people can actually go to see it in the flesh, while sports like cricket and rugby don't have enough money going around for the switch to pay TV to make a huge difference. This is a mistake, and everyone except the BBC, Sky and Bernie knows it!"

Surprised team principals, to whom the fans' views are crucially important, went into hyperdrive as they also sought Ecclestone's assurance that the deal would not contravene the existing Concorde Agreement with the teams, which runs until the end of 2012. But the man himself was unmoved. "It's good for Formula One," he said. "For sure there are going to be a lot more people viewing, and a lot more opportunities for people to view, so from that point I'm happy.

"I've been finalising this all night long and one or two things might change a little. Sky will broadcast everything, all the races, live. The Beeb will do 50 per cent live, and when it isn't live, they will be putting together a very good highlights package. They may yet do the whole race deferred, we have to see."

He conceded that the problem is the fans who cannot afford Sky subscriptions. "I know, but from what I understand Sky has enormous coverage, 10 million homes. For those who can't watch Sky, they can still watch on a Sunday night, which will probably be better than watching the whole race live half the time."

Some believe such a hybrid deal has long been inevitable, that some form of pay-per-view is now part and parcel of all global sports coverage. Others see the need to re-engineer a deal that the BBC no longer want is confirmation that even F1 is no longer immune from the economic squeeze affecting so many UK viewers.

For sure, Ecclestone now has a seven-year bankable asset that he can use to "discourage" the teams from thoughts of a breakaway champion-ship, should their upcoming Concorde Agreement negotiations fail.

On the track, a great qualifying session saw Sebastian Vettel bounce back to take pole position for Red Bull, but Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button start second and third for McLaren.

"We knew from Nürburgring that we had good pace, and yesterday was a good day," Hamilton said, "but the others seemed to pick up pace today."

Button, facing his 200th grand prix start, was also content: "That was good. We've thought a lot of races would be straightforward this year, but with KERS and the Pirellis they haven't been. It's a big day for me."

Hungarian Grand Prix grid

1. S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 19.815sec

2. L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:19.978

3. J Button (GB) McLaren 1:20.024

4. F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:20.350

5. F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:20.365

6. M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:20.474

7. N Rosberg (Ger) Mercs 1:21.098

8. A Sutil (Ger) F Ind 1:21.445

9. M Schumacher (Ger) Mercs 1:21.907

10. S Perez (Mex) Sauber. No Q3 time

11. P Di Resta (GB) F India 1:22.256

12. V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:22.284

13. K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1:22.435

14. N Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:22.470

15. R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:22.684

16. J Alguersuari (Sp) T Rosso 1:22.979

17. P Maldonado (Ven) Williams. No Q2 time

18. H Kovalainen (Fin) T Lotus 1:24.362

19. J Trulli (It) T Lotus 1:24.534

20. T Glock (Ger) Virgin 1:26.294

21. V Liuzzi (It) HRT 1:26.323

22. D Ricciardo (Aus) HRT 1:26.479

23. S Buemi (Swit) T Rosso 1:24.070

24. J D'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin 1:26.510

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'