The British Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the F1 season – for Brits at least if not the drivers as well – and this weekend is the first of two races at the Silverstone circuit. The second has been named the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Both will be held without spectators, which will certainly give them a strange feel compared to previous years.
Here’s what you need to know about tuning in to watch the practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself.
When does the British Grand Prix start in the UK?
The race will be held on Sunday 2 August. Because it’s the British Grand Prix, Channel 4 is allowed to broadcast live alongside Sky, so fans can watch for free!
There’s free practice on Friday, Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Round 3: Silverstone, UK
Start time (BST): 2.10pm
Highlights: Channel 4 6.30pm
Practice 1 & 2: Sky Sports F1, 9.30am and 1.45pm Friday; Channel 4 from 10.55am
Practice 3: Sky Sports F1, 10.45am Saturday; Channel 4 from 10.55am
Qualifying: Sky Sports F1 & Channel 4, 1pm Saturday
Race: Sunday’s coverage begins at 12.30pm on Sky Sports F1 and 1pm on Channel 4.
If you’re unable to get to a TV or record broadcasts, you can watch them later on Sky and Channel 4’s catch-up services. Highlights have been taking a long while to appear on All 4 – four hours or more after broadcast on Channel 4 – so it’s worth setting your DVR to record if you can.
After the two back-to-back races in the UK it’s on to Barcelona in Spain on 16 August, Belgium on 30 August and Italy (Monza) on 6 September.
F1 has also confirmed that it will race at Mugello in Tuscany for the first time on 13 September, meaning teams can stay in the same country for another fortnight.
The 10th round will be in Sochi in Russia on 27 September.
How to watch every F1 race for free in the UK
Sky showing live races
Extended qualifying, plus highlights on Channel 4 shown 2.5 hours after live race ends
At some point F1 will almost certainly become a pay-to-watch sport. For the moment, however, you have the choice of watching on Channel 4 in the UK or paying for the F1 channel on Sky.
Although Sky has the exclusive rights to show live races in the UK, highlights are available on Channel 4, which is a free-to-air TV channel.
This arrangement runs until 2024, but there’s good news for fans because the latest deal (which has been agreed until the end of the 2022 season) means that extended highlights of both qualifying and races can be shown on Channel 4 only two and a half hours after the race ends, instead of the three-hour delay in 2019. (They won’t all be shown this soon – the Australian GP highlights will be broadcast on Sunday afternoon.)
This means the whole show will last 2.5 hours instead of 2, and can cover 70 percent of the action. That equates to about an hour of actual racing rather than 45 minutes.
Better still, this agreement extends until the end of 2022.
You can watch Channel 4 on your TV, of course, but you can also watch using the All 4 app on your phone or tablet, or in a web browser via Channel 4’s website.
How to watch F1 races on Sky and NowTV
If you’re happy to pay a subscription fee so you can watch entire races live, then Sky is the only option in the UK. While Liberty operates an online streaming service – F1 TV Pro – you can’t watch it in the UK because of Sky’s exclusive deal.
Because of coronavirus, sports have all been postponed. But we expect Sky will soon bring back some sort of offer when it restarts in July.
You can get Sky Sports F1 for £10 per month (minimum of 12 months) on top of your normal Sky package, or Complete Sports (all the sports channels) for £20 per month. You need to sign up for an 18-month contract for the latter, though. If you’re not a Sky customer yet, you can get F1 on top of Sky TV for £35 per month plus a £20 setup fee.
If you’d rather not sign up to Sky TV because you only want F1 then there is an alternative: you can subscribe via Sky’s streaming service, Now TV. That’s available on your phone, tablet, games consoles, via a web browser and also via a Now TV streaming stick.
It isn’t much cheaper though: it’s £33.99 per month for the Sky Sports Pass, although there is currently an offer which gets you the first three months for £25 per month.
Can you get F1 TV Pro in the UK?
Annoyingly, no, you can’t. In case you didn’t know, F1 TV Pro is the official streaming service of Forumla 1 but you can’t get it in the UK because of Sky’s exclusive deal for live races.
F1 TV Pro is only available the US where it costs $79.99 per year. You can also buy it in a few other countries including the Netherlands where it is €7.99 per month.
In the UK, all you can access is the live timing service which costs £2.29 per month. We don’t advise using a VPN to buy the service from the US or Netherlands: it’s likely your VPN will be detected and Liberty Media, which runs F1, says your subscription will be terminated with no refund.
Can I watch F1 online in 2020?
Indeed you can. Coverage is available using the following apps:
Note that you cannot watch live on the All 4 app. Unlike BBC iPlayer, you can’t join a live broadcast (much less restart it from the beginning) and you may have to wait hours for the race highlights to appear in the app. That’s certainly the case this year, with the programme appearing over four hours after broadcast.
To watch races on Sky you need to subscribe to its TV service. Sky will be broadcasting practice, qualifying and races in Ultra HD, but they’re also in HD depending upon your subscription. You can find out more on Sky’s website.
As we said above, you can still watch Sky Sports F1 without being a Sky customer as the channel is also available on Now TV. This is sky’s streaming service, which you can watch via the Now TV Player app on a laptop, PC, Mac, phone or tablet, or Sky’s own Now TV Stick which connects to an HDMI input on your TV.
Is there really no way to watch F1 races live for free?
Officially, no. But there is a way. And it’s free if you have a satellite dish and receiver which can pick up RTL Germany. That’s because F1 races are still shown there on the free-to-air channel. Unless you’re fluent in German the commentary isn’t going to mean much, but you can get English commentary by tuning into Radio 5 Live (you can use the iPlayer Radio app on your phone if you don’t have an actual radio).
If you haven’t already got a suitable dish and set-top box, there’s little point in investing in one as you’ll pay around the same price to watch F1 on Now TV. But it could work out to be cheaper if you plan to watch F1 for the next few years and RTL continues to broadcast it.
2020 F1 schedule
Here’s the latest schedule. All times are British Summer Time (GMT+1).
Round 1: Austrian GP
Round 2: Styrian GP
Round 3: Hungarian GP
Round 4: British GP
Round 5: 70th Anniversary GP
Round 6: Spanish GP
Round 7: Belgian GP
Round 8: Italian GP
Round 9: Tuscan GP (Mugello)
Round 10: Russian GP
United States Grand Prix
25 October (TBC)
Mexican Grand Prix
1 November (TBC)
Brazilian Grand Prix
15 November (TBC)
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
29 November (TBC)
How to watch F1 with a VPN
If you’re not in the UK when a particular race is shown, you can watch it using the Sky Go app on your phone or tablet, but that’s only if you have the right level of subscription in place with Sky. And if you’re not with Sky, then you can still watch highlights on the All 4 app if you use a VPN with a UK server, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Hidden24.