ESPN will present Formula 1 qualifying and race telecasts commercial-free for U.S. viewers for the rest of the 2018 season, ESPN executive vice president Burke Magnus told SportsBusiness Journal on Tuesday.
Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix was presented without commercials – thanks to sponsor Mothers Polish – after multiple issues with the Sky Sports feed and program listings during the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The network apologized after technical issues forced the “On the Grid” prerace show off the air for 20 minutes. The network had also publicized a 10 p.m. ET broadcast time for the third practice session on Friday, almost an hour earlier than it actually aired.
In addition to the missing audio, viewers were upset with abrupt in-race commercial cutaways that missed at least one restart and a pivotal moment in the race when both Haas cars were forced to retire.
“We intend to present the F1 races in this way for the balance of the 2018 season,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming & scheduling. “F1 fans are passionate and we listened to a lot of feedback from them – the fans are very informed and the feedback we received was both polite and constructive. It helped us.
“We don’t have a completely finished product but we’re very happy with the way the changes after Australia were received. We’ll continue to keep working to make it better for the fans.”
Mothers Polish will be the presenting sponsor for the season’s coverage.
|Race||Session||Date||Start time (ET)||Network|
|China||Practice 1||Thursday, April 12||9:55 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Practice 2 & 3||Friday, April 13||1:55 a.m., 11 p.m.||ESPN3/ESPNEWS|
|Qualifying||Saturday, April 14||1:55 a.m.||ESPN2|
|Race||Sunday, April 15||1:30 a.m. (pre-race); race at 2 a.m.||ESPN2|