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UK free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 has unveiled its presenting team for the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship which celebrates the diversity of motor racing and includes some of the biggest legends in Formula 1. The line-up includes experienced drivers David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Alain Prost, Alex Zanardi, Susie Wolff, Karun Chandhok, Eddie Jordan and Bruno Senna; alongside seasoned live presenters and journalists Steve Jones, Ben Edwards and Lee McKenzie.
Channel 4 took over the UK free-to-air rights from the BBC as the Corporation withdrew from its contract as part of its cost-cutting drive. Sky Sports will continue to show all 21 races as the UK’s pay-TV licensee. As part of a three-year deal from 2016-2018 with Formula One World Championship Limited, Channel 4 will broadcast live coverage of ten Grands Prix – without advertising breaks during the main races – including practice and qualifying sessions each season. Channel 4 will broadcast extensive highlights of all 21 races, including those broadcast by Sky Sports.
Thirteen-times Grands Prix winner and experienced broadcaster, David Coulthard will be the lead expert analyst and commentator and will front Channel 4’s coverage at every Grand Prix of the season alongside consummate live presenter and lifetime F1 fan, Steve Jones.
Coulthard will be joined for Channel 4’s live races by expert analysts Mark Webber, whose career spans 12 seasons and nine Grands Prix wins, and Scottish racing driver Susie Wolff, who was until recently a Williams F1 test driver and in 2014 became the first woman in over 20 years to take part in a Grand Prix weekend.
Formula Asia Championship winner and former GP2 Series driver Karun Chandhok takes the role of Technical Analyst and will grill team bosses and engineers and commentate from the pit lane; with former BBC F1 team member Lee McKenzie as a reporter. Race commentary alongside Coulthard will be led by former-BBC and Eurosport team member, Ben Edwards.
A range of motorsport legends will be part of the wider presenting team across the 2016 World Championship season including: four-times F1 World Champion, Alain Prost; former racing driver, team boss and BBC analyst, Eddie Jordan; former F1, World Touring Car driver and gold-medal winning Paralympian Alex Zanardi; British Touring Car driver Nic Hamilton; and FIA Endurance Championship race driver and nephew of three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna, Bruno Senna.
Additionally, one of the icons of motor sport on television, Murray Walker will give his unique insight into the world of F1 as he interviews some of the stars of the sport. And current Renault driver Jolyon Palmer who is embarking on his first year in F1, will provide his perspective from the race track with a regular column at www.channel4.com/f1.
Unveiling the new team, Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt said: “This is the dream team – we’ve brought together the very best in screen and off screen talent to make Channel 4’s coverage unmissable.”
David Coulthard said: “I’m very proud to be a part of this exciting line up which will give F1 fans who choose to watch the most creative and innovative free-to-air coverage of the season a totally fresh perspective. This season promises to be the most competitive for years and viewers can look forward to extensive coverage of all the races, expert punditry, unrivalled paddock and pit access as well as exhilarating stunts and features throughout to bring the audience right into the heart of the race action.”
To launch its F1 coverage, Channel 4 will broadcast a special programme with motorbike racer and lorry mechanic, Guy Martin and David Coulthard as they go head-to-head, pitting Guy’s Tyco BMW Superbike against David’s V8 Red Bull racing car in a test of speed never seen at Silverstone before. The adrenalin fuelled challenges include a drag race, a brake test, a slalom, a full circuit race – and physical and mental tests in the pit garages. This one-off programme produced by North One Television will be broadcast on Thursday 17th March at 9pm ahead of the first race weekend.
Amongst the features included in the first weekend’s race coverage will be McLaren and Jenson Button dropping into the heart of the action at Melbourne with a little help from the RAF – while Channel 4’s presenters put celebrities through their paces on the tracks, including Susie Wolff’s heart-pumping rides around Brands Hatch with British boxer and former world champion David Haye and actor and comedian Johnny Vegas, amongst others.
Coverage will begin across the weekend of 18th-20th March with build-up and comprehensive highlights coverage of the 2016 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix weekend. The channel’s first live race will be the 2016 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix broadcast over the weekend of 1st-3rd April.
Channel 4’s F1 coverage will be produced by experienced independent sports production company, Whisper Films – set up by former BBC Sport F1 producer, Sunil Patel, David Coulthard, and presenter Jake Humphrey.
Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain will be the title track of Channel 4’s F1 coverage ensuring this iconic tune remains the theme tune of Formula One on TV. Bespoke titles for each race weekend will be created by Oscar and BAFTA award-winning British VFX company, Framestore, who won an Academy Award for their critically acclaimed visual effects work on sci-fi space thriller, Gravity.
Kayak, the travel search engine tool, is Channel 4’s official F1 sponsor.