In what is turning out to be a fantastic season for Formula 1, it’s no wonder new fans are being attracted to the sport in 2021. Gone are the 50-lap processions with the winner already decided.
Instead, there’s a fight to the end, thrills and spills and some new blood to shake up the paddock. So where to (legally) watch Formula 1, does it pass the thinkbroadband’s speed test to get in on the action and of course where can you watch it?
Sky Sports F1
Sky have invested heavily in their coverage. That includes a dedicated channel in Sky Sports F1 and a stellar cast of presenters and pundits.
Free practice 1, 2 and 3
Qualifying 1, 2 and 3
The full race live
Lots of supporting content including interviews and features
Sky Sports F1 subscriptions cost £18 per month for existing customers or £25 per month as part of the Complete Sports package.
You can watch on your TV or stream to an authorised device depending on your contract.
NOW Sport Membership
As Sky owns the NOW streaming service (formerly NOW TV), you can also watch F1 on that platform too. It has the same coverage as Sky Sports F1, which is ideal.
There are two types of subscriptions depending on what you’re looking for.
Sports Day Membership – 24-hour access to 11 Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports F1, and access to highlights and other content for £9.98.
Sports Membership + 1-month free Boost – Monthly access to 11 Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports F1, over 1000 hours of highlights and other content for £33.99 per month.
The official F1 website provides access to live races for those outside the UK. However, Sky’s exclusivity deal prevents UK residents from accessing live races.
There is the Live Timing app though. This provides a ton of data on races that includes leaderboard data, real-time telemetry, driver maps and more.
F1TV also has a history on-demand channel that shows old races and exclusive content. Live Timing costs £2.29 per month and F1 history on-demand costs £19.99 per year.
Why does Sky hold so many of the rights?
Thanks to a billion-pound deal, Sky has an exclusive six-year contract between 2018 and 2024 to air Formula 1 races live. That’s £160 million per season, a significant investment in the sport by the British broadcaster.
Even though the contract is due to end in a couple of years, it is likely to stay with Sky for the foreseeable future.
The company has invested heavily in their coverage and few competitors can match the infrastructure and capacity for the investment of Sky.
Which channel has the best F1 pundits?
The answer to that question depends on what you’re looking for.
Sky F1 has David Croft as the lead commentator, with Natalie Pinkham in parc ferme and other areas.
There is also a roster of former drivers who rotate. They include Nico Rosberg, Damon Hill, Karun Chandhok, Johnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, Anthony Davidson, Paul di Resta and Jenson Button.
Channel 4 also has a good lineup of presenters. They include Steve Jones as anchor and David Coulthard as lead analyst. The production company, Whisper, is partly owned by David and Jake Humphrey, the former BBC F1 commentator.
Other presenters include Alex Jacques as lead commentator and Mark Webber, Lee McKenzie, Eddie Jordan, Ben Edwards, Billy Monger and Lawrence Barretto at selected races
Who does the interview in parc ferme?
Typically, one of the presenting team from Sky or Channel 4 will handle interviews and pieces to camera from parc ferme.
For Sky, Martin Brundle will often cover parc ferme with help from Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz.
For Channel 4 for example, David Coulthard was in Monza and Mark Webber did the Belgian Grand Prix. Other hosts cover interviews depending on who is featured that week.
To mix things up a little, Channel 4 will occasionally partner former teammates to see how it would go. For example, they got Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel together for one race and Nico Rosberg and Jensen Button to interview Lewis Hamilton at another.
How to improve streaming quality for F1 races
If you’re streaming F1 races, the last thing you want to do is miss out on some action due to buffering or stuttering!
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your broadband so you don’t miss a thing:
If the speed is lower than what you’re paying for, follow up with your provider to let them address the situation.
If the speed is similar to what you’re paying for but still slow, consider upgrading your connection. Perform a postcode check to see what broadband deals are available and consider upgrading to a faster connection.
Lower stream quality
While less than ideal, lowering your stream quality can help avoid stuttering and buffering. The Sky Go app should have a tool to lower the quality to reduce how much bandwidth it requires.
Move to a stronger signal area
If parts of your home have a weaker WiFi signal than others, move to a stronger signal during races. Alternatively, consider using a WiFi signal booster to improve the signal in hard to reach areas.
Use a wired connection
If you’re watching on a laptop or computer, using Ethernet instead of WiFi will be faster. If you’re not close to your router, consider using a powerline adapter that turns your home’s electrical grid into a mini-network.