ESPN adds Sky Sports pre-race show to F1 broadcast


One of the biggest concerns for US Formula 1 fans was the lack of information regarding any pre or post-race coverage that was provided by the previous broadcaster here in the States.

While most of the hardcore F1 fans in the US have seen the Sky Sports F1 package and appreciate its depth, insight and expansive coverage, they were hoping that some of these features would make it over the ESPN’s broadcast package as they are working with the Sky team to provide the complete F1 coverage for 2018.

The good news is, my friend Andy over ESPN sent me an announcement explaining that ESPN will include Sky’s pre-race coverage which is terrific news. There is no mention of any post-race Sky coverage and if I’m honest, my recommendation to ESPN would be to also post Ted’s Notebook sessions on their website as well. Those are terrific!

Regardless, it’s nice to know that ESPN is taking it’s F1 coverage seriously and are looking to add some value to the broadcast beyond just lights-to-flag coverage.

Here is the full press release form ESPN:

After an absence of more than 20 years, the FIA Formula One World Championship returns to its original television home in the United States this weekend with the launch of the 2018 season in Australia. ESPN and ABC will televise all 21 races in the championship as part of a multi-year linear and digital partnership.

The Rolex Australian Grand Prix will start the new season and will air live on ESPN2 at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 25 (late Saturday night). ESPN networks also will air all three practice sessions live from Australia as well as qualifying from the 5.303 km (3.295-mile), 16-turn Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had Formula 1 on ESPN and we’re very happy to have it back,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming & Scheduling. “There are a lot of exciting storylines heading into the season and race fans are intrigued about what’s to come. They’ll be able to see it all unfold on our TV and digital platforms and we look forward to getting started.”

ESPN, Sky Sports and Formula 1 have joined forces to bring Sky Sports’ presentation of the championship to viewers in the United States, with the Sky Sports coverage of races, practice and qualifying sessions to air on ESPN networks.

ESPN also has added Sky Sports’ pre-race On the Grid program for the entire season. For the Australia event, On the Grid will air on ESPN2 Sunday at 12:30 a.m. ET, with the full schedule to be announced later.

Sky Sports’ comprehensive coverage will include commentary and analysis from a lineup of former world champions and current F1 drivers, bolstered by the recent addition of 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg. He joins Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, Paul di Resta and Anthony Davidson along with expert commentators Simon Lazenby, Ted Kravitz, David Croft, Rachel Brookes and Natalie Pinkham. The agreement for ESPN to air the Sky Sports coverage was arranged by Formula 1, with the approval of ESPN and Sky.

Formula 1 racing aired on ESPN from 1984-1997, and before that the championship made its debut on American television with the airing of highlights from the Monaco Grand Prix on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1962. Select races appeared on ABC until 1988.

This year, races will air on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, while practice and qualifying sessions will air either on ESPN2, ESPNEWS or on ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and streaming devices through the ESPN App. ESPN3 is currently available nationwide at no additional cost to those who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

All in more than 135 hours of Formula 1 programming will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms in 2018.

Formula 1 on ESPN Digital

The Formula 1 World Championship will have a strong presence on ESPN digital platforms during the 2018 season, led by the dedicated ESPN F1 landing page on Some content leading into the Australian Grand Prix:

In addition, replays of practice session, qualifying and race telecasts are available via the ESPN App.

Rolex Australian Grand Prix Schedule on ESPN Networks

(all times Eastern)

Thur., March 22Practice 19 p.m.ESPN3
Friday, March 23Practice 21 a.m.ESPN3
Practice 310 p.m.ESPNEWS
Sat., March 24Qualifying2 a.m.ESPN2
Sun., March 25On the Grid12:30 a.m.ESPN2
Race1 a.m.ESPN2
Race (encore)11 a.m.ESPN2
Race (encore)1 p.m.ESPNEWS
Race (encore)9 p.m.ESPNEWS
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Jeffrey Weber

Great news. Any word on the F1TV pay service that was announced a few weeks ago?

Richard Bunce

I saw an article in the last day or so saying it was going to be available starting Thursday. That would seem to be asking for chaos but perhaps Tata has that sort of thing nailed down.

The Captain

I’ll give them this, ESPN sure as hell knows how to spin a press release to get positive ‘buzz’ out of the gate. They somehow manage kudos for not doing the just the bare minimum. So sorry Todd, I gotta disagree with you on this one, I do not think any of this is ESPN “taking it’s F1 coverage seriously”. Let’s just unpack at this announcement. ESPN is gonna show Sky’s pre-race show On the Grid, from 12:30-1:00. O.k. that’s fine and all but that’s still 30 min LESS pre-race coverage than we got last year with NBC. So it’s… Read more »

sunny stivala

Action laps: commentators potentially asked to be quiet for 3 minutes so liberty can play music during race. They will play DJ felix jaehn. Martin Brundle: “3 minutes is a very long time during a race”.

The Captain

He he, and ‘sponsors before everything’ (“Sunoco fuel” here we come).

You know what though, I absolutely 100% love the idea of the commentators shutting up for a bit so we can hear the sounds of the cars. NASCAR does this and it’s actually really cool.

…but the music?! Yea, I’ve decided I’m not gonna even acknowledge that rumor within my own head for the sake of my sanity. I mean there’s no way an idea that awful can be a real thing, right. Right?

sunny stivala

Yes they are trying their best to Americanize the F1 series and their broadcast. more artificial BS, they just want to play their music over the top. they are clearly leaning towards the NASCAR style. NASCAR, not to slag-it, is American style entertainment that happens to have oval tracks at the core of it.
FI has always had to make sacrifices, because it is real racing that is broadcast for fans of high end circuit racing.

The Captain

Yea I guess it is a situation of ‘better than it could be’. I’m still gonna cry about it though :)

sunny stivala

The launch of F1’S, all singing and dancing streaming service has been put on hold, with no date given as to when it will go live.

Brian Lautzenhiser

thank goodness.


Love this: “In addition, replays of practice session, qualifying and race telecasts are available via the ESPN App.” It means I get to sleep in! I’m wondering if the OTT will have the same.


Thank you for posting this! As a side not to all TPF fans in the USA… I have dumped Dish and cable and only have YouTubeTV (not just YouTube) for $35 a month – and that’s for 5 users! Channels? Yup, all the majors and all the ESPNs.


I am seriously considering a switch from DirecTV to YouTubeTV. One question though, are you able to stream the ESPN3 ‘channel’. I fear since my locals are owned by Sinclair Media that it may be some time before YouTubeTV will be viable for me though (getting locals is a requirement for me).

Jim Sliff

Anyone know how we can watch Sky directly in the US? ESPN is starting pre-race after the first 30 minutes, there’s still no post-race coverage, and only Australia and Monaco FP1 & 2 practice sessions will even be streaming. NBC had everything available either on cable or via stream, and it’s pathetic of ESPN to cut the coverage.


Duplicate – sorry.