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Photo Courtesy of Espen Sorvick

Update – Sky’s F1 channel will now also be available on Virgin Media 

2012 will be very different for F1 fans to 2011, some of us will have resigned ourselves to paying for Sky Sports, others to missing races and having to watch extended highlights. There are however a few alternatives, none ideal but options none the less.

1. Get Sky and Sky Sports or Sky HD 

So the obvious option is to get Sky and Sky Sports, if you have Sky already then the extra cost is the subscription to Sky Sports, only the complete package comes with the F1 channel. If you don’t have these options though you will have to pay for Sky TV first of all, this may or may not have value to you and the cost starts to stack up.Update – It has now been announced that with a HD package you will get the F1 channel even without a Sky Sports subscription, a clever ploy but a good way to give people the excuse to get a HD upgrade they may have wanted anyway but not been able to justify before.

Cost: around £20 for sky on a 12 month contract plus a further £20 for Sky Sports or £30.25 if you want to keep on watching in HD

2. Watch BBC races only and extended highlights

This option has no cost but of course means not being able to watch all races live; the title decider could well be a race that isn’t shown on the BBC as they have only guaranteed to show Monaco, the British Grand Prix and the season finale. Will you be able to avoid the news and results right up to the evening when the highlights are shown and just how extended will they be? In the past many races could be made into highlights without missing much as between pitstops there was simply a procession of cars on track. From 2011 things are certainly different and you are bound to miss some elements of the race with a highlights programme.

Cost: Nil, assuming you have a TV

3. Get satellite from another country,

EU competition rules mean Sky Sports don’t have the monopoly you may think they have, a publican recently had the EU advise in her favour where she had used cheaper coverage of Premier League football from a provider in the EU to circumvent using Sky Sports, Sky had fined her but it was decided that EU competition rules mean you can buy your satellite TV subscription from whoever you like within the EU. You simply need the right equipment and then to point your dish at the right satellite. The cost of the equipment means that initially you have to lay out a bit but if Sky are showing races until at least 2018 it’s a great long term investment that should save you money in the first season. You may though want to consider which language coverage will be in though you can always put on BBC five live for live coverage though there may be a lag between commentary and pictures.

Cost:£240 or £280- for HD, plus installation

4. Watch it at a pub, sports club, bar etc

Football is well suited to watching in public, the commentary is of little importance so it doesn’t matter when it is drowned out. F1 can be a little tougher to follow and so you may struggle if the commentary is muted or difficult to hear. The important thing is to check before heading out where is showing the coverage and whether it is going to be shown in full including pre race or whether it will be switched on moments before the race starts. Somewhere like a sports club or gym may be a better place to watch than a pub. You could even do a workout while watching the race and listening through headphones.

Cost: A few pints or a gym membership

5. Go to see each race not on the BBC live

The most expensive option by far, much more expensive than Sky Sports but arguably better value. Bear in mind though that the BBC are likely to mainly cover the European races to save on costs so you may find yourself globetrotting.

Cost: £500-£2500 per race


6. Radio five live

Radio five live have great commentary but you will have to picture the action in your mind’s eye, the BBC team of David Croft, Anthony Davidson and Maurice Hamilton, often joined by Karun Chandhok are very good though and many will perhaps choose this commentary over the Sky Sports commentary if it doesn’t come up to standard.

Cost: Nil, assuming you have a radio


7. Get Virgin Media and Sky Sports

Sky’s F1 Channel will be included with Sky Sports packages on Virgin Media it has now been confirmed, this means if you already have Virgin you don’t have to change, or if in a contract have both, it also gives you more choices over other packages of services and of course offers.


Cost: Virgin TV subscription from £6.50 per month plus Sky Sports for around £22.50 per month



– Illegal streaming websites

This isn’t an option we recommend or condone in anyway and it is only mentioned here as it will inevitably be used by many, such sites are popular for cricket and football, often streaming coverage from broadcasts in places such as India. This is illegal and so should be avoided, not to mention the fact that the picture quality is likely to be poor and the service unreliable.

Cost: n/a






January 16, 2012 at 11:28 am by admin
Category: F1 Comment
Tags: BBC, SKy, Sky sports, sky sports alternative, watch f1, watch f1 2012, watch f1 for free