In what turns out to be a fantastic season for Formula 1, it’s no wonder that new fans are drawn to the sport in 2021. No more 50-lap parades with the winner already decided.
Instead, there is a brawl to the end, thrills and spills and new blood to shake the paddock.
Where to watch Formula 1 (legally) and want to be part of the action, where can you watch it?
Sky Sports F1
Sky has invested heavily in its coverage. This includes a dedicated channel in Sky Sports F1 and a stellar cast of presenters and experts.
The sky shows:
- Free practice 1, 2 and 3
- Qualifications 1, 2 and 3
- The full race live
- Lots of supportive 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 on an authorized device depending on your contract.
Membership NOW Sport
As Sky owns the NOW (formerly NOW TV) streaming service, you can also watch F1 on this platform. It has the same coverage as Sky Sports F1 which is ideal.
There are two types of subscriptions depending on what you are looking for.
Sports Day Subscription – 24-hour access to 11 Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports F1, and access to highlights and other content for £ 9.98.
One Month Free Sports + Boost Subscription – Monthly access to 11 Sky Sports channels including Sky Sports F1, over 1000 hours of highlights and other content for £ 33.99 per month.
Channel 4 retained the rights to show F1 highlights, but no live racing except the British Grand Prix. The channel broadcasts highlights from each race over the weekend and offers decent coverage, but only that one race live.
The official F1 website provides access to live racing for those outside the UK. However, Sky’s exclusivity deal prevents UK residents from accessing live races.
However, there is the Live Timing application. This provides a ton of race data that includes ranking data, real-time telemetry, driver maps and more.
F1TV also has a historic on-demand channel that broadcasts old races and exclusive content. Live Timing costs £ 2.29 per month and on-demand F1 history costs £ 19.99 per year.
Why does Sky have so many rights?
Thanks to a billion pound deal, Sky has an exclusive six-year contract between 2018 and 2024 to broadcast Formula 1 racing live. That’s £ 160million per season, a significant investment in the sport by the UK broadcaster.
Even though the contract is due to end in a few years, it is likely that he will stay with Sky for the foreseeable future.
The company has invested heavily in its coverage and few competitors can match Sky’s infrastructure and investment capacity.
Which channel has the best F1 experts?
The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for.
Sky F1 has David Croft as the lead commentator, with Natalie Pinkham in the parc fermé and other areas.
There is also a list of former drivers who are turning. 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 range of presenters. They include Steve Jones as an anchor and David Coulthard as a senior 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 in selected races.
Who does the maintenance in the parc fermé?
Typically one of the Sky or Channel 4 presentation teams will handle the interviews and the closed-park camera parts.
For Sky, Martin Brundle will often cover the Parc Fermé with the help of Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz.
For Channel 4 for example, David Coulthard was at 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 bit, Channel 4 will occasionally team up with former teammates to see how it goes. For example, they brought together Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel for one race and Nico Rosberg and Jensen Button to interview Lewis Hamilton for another.
How to improve streaming quality for F1 races
If you’re streaming F1 races, the last thing you want to do is miss some action due to buffering or stuttering!
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your broadband so you don’t miss a thing:
Run a broadband speed test
Your first task is to run a broadband speed test. This assesses the overall speed of your broadband connection.
If the speed is slower than what you pay for, follow up with your provider to let them fix the situation.
If the speed is similar to what you pay for but still slow, consider upgrading your connection. Perform a zip code check to see what broadband offers are available and consider upgrading to a faster connection.
Lower flow quality
While far from ideal, reducing the quality of your stream can help avoid stuttering and buffering. The Sky Go app should have a tool to reduce quality to reduce the bandwidth it needs.
Move to a stronger signal area
If some parts of your house have a weaker WiFi signal than others, switch to a stronger signal while shopping. You can also consider using a WiFi signal booster to improve the signal in hard-to-reach areas.
Use a wired connection
If you watch on a laptop or computer, using Ethernet instead of WiFi will be faster. If you’re not near your router, consider using a Powerline adapter that turns your home’s power grid into a mini-grid.