Ian Burrell: Scared of spinning out of race, BBC lets Sky pass


Of all people, you would have thought that the BBC Formula One commentator Martin Brundle might have spotted something in his rear-view mirrors. But even Brundle, a former Formula One driver himself, was caught out.

"Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet. I'm out of contract, will calmly work through options. Not impressed," he posted on his Twitter feed yesterday morning, still clearly shocked by the news that Sky Sports had forced itself to the front of the F1 grid.

The BBC presenter Jake Humphrey was no less stunned. Appealing for perspective, he compared the event to the Norway massacre ("it's only sport") and wrote in the London Evening Standard what was almost an obituary for the Beeb's F1 coverage, saying "how proud I am of the past two-and-a-half years".

The reality is that F1 will remain on the BBC, although only half of the season's 20 races will be shown live by the corporation. It will get the first three picks (inevitably the British Grand Prix, Monaco and the final race). Then Sky will move in and take the next three choicest races, with the remaining choices made alternately. Races that are exclusively live on Sky will be shown on the BBC as extended highlights.

It is not so much an audacious passing manoeuvre of the type we have come to expect from Lewis Hamilton, but a case of the lead car (the Beeb) giving space to the overtaking driver (BSkyB) for fear of being dumped out of the race altogether.

BBC sources were yesterday congratulating themselves on a move that has saved up to £30m a year, at a time when BBC Sport needs to deliver some hefty cuts. Had the partnership deal not been clinched, the BBC might have lost all F1 television coverage in two years' time. The BBC has invested a lot in the sport (live broadcasts will continue on Radio 5 Live) and recently won a Bafta award for its coverage of last season's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

For Sky this is new territory, but the broadcaster believes it can do for F1 what it has done for coverage of football, cricket and golf. As well as the qualifying races (which the BBC will also cover when it has live rights), Sky will be showing practice sessions as well. The offering will be made available on the new Sky Go app for mobile devices.

Earlier this year it emerged that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp had held exploratory talks to buy the whole of the F1 circus. The media mogul has had his problems recently and for the time being he must be content with BSkyB (in which News Corp has a 39.1 per cent share) having attached its brand to the sport. The BBC still has a place on the lower reaches of the podium but it's the satellite broadcaster cracking open the Jeroboam.

Who has 'Crown Jewels?'

The Sporting 'Crown Jewels' are those events which are said to be of particular public interest and, as such, are generally compelled to sell their TV broadcasting rights to terrestrial networks.

*Football: The FA Cup, formerly on the BBC, is shared between ITV and ESPN.

*Olympics: Likely to be a bidding war for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

*Horse Racing: The BBC has rights to the Grand National and the Derby.

*Tennis: BBC hold the Wimbledon rights until 2014.

*Rugby League: Sky have retained the broadcasting rights for Super League until 2016 in a £90m deal.

*F1: From next year, the BBC will share TV with Sky, broadcasting only half the races. The deal lasts until 2018.

*Cricket: Sky have the Test match contract until at least 2014.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments