In Brief

F1: UK TV viewership down by 8.6m in 2019

Robert Kubica joins Alfa Romeo as reserve driver and Mark Webber tips Lewis Hamilton to equal title record

UK TV viewership ‘crashes’ in 2019

The Independent reports that Formula 1 lost 8.6m television viewers in the United Kingdom during the 2019 season. 

Last year 20 of the 21 races were exclusively live in the UK on Sky Sports, with Channel 4 showing highlights of all races and live coverage of only one grand prix, the British GP in July.

According to data released by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, Channel 4’s highlights were watched by a “cumulative total of 34.7 million viewers [in 2019], which is a staggering 10.8m less than in 2018”, says the Independent.

Sky Sports’s audience increased by 2.2m viewers to 20.1m, but despite these numbers the total UK viewership was down by 13.6% to 54.8m.   

Independent journalist Christian Sylt said: “Not only did Channel 4’s audience crash, but Sky failed to compensate for it.

“The number of viewers of some races on Sky’s dedicated F1 channel was actually down on 2018 despite it having exclusive rights to show all but one of them live.”

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Webber tips Hamilton and Ferrari for titles

Ex-F1 driver Mark Webber has backed Lewis Hamilton to equal Michael Schumacher’s record and win his seventh world championship in 2020

Webber, who formerly drove for Red Bull Racing, has also tipped Charles Leclerc and Ferrari to break Mercedes’s domination to win the constructors’ championship. 

Speaking to Formule 1, Webber said: “At least Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel can score regularly. For the constructors’ championship, Ferrari may look good, although I think Lewis will still show his superiority in the driver classification over a whole season. 

“We don’t even have to talk about [Max] Verstappen anymore. He is now an established name and is on fire! 

“I look forward to seeing Hamilton match Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles by 2020 while having to deal with Leclerc and Verstappen.”

Kubica joins Alfa Romeo as reserve driver

After leaving Williams at the end of last year Robert Kubica will stay in F1 as reserve driver at Alfa Romeo for the 2020 season.

F1.com reports that Kubica’s arrival at Alfa Romeo coincides with the Swiss team signing a co-title sponsorship deal with Polish petroleum company Orlen.

Pole Kubica, who formerly drove for the Swiss team when it was known as BMW-Sauber, said: “I am really happy to be starting this new chapter in my career as I join Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen. 

“This team holds a special place in my heart and I am pleased to see some faces still here from my years in Hinwil. Time and circumstances are obviously different, but I am convinced that I will find the same determination and hunger to succeed. 

“I am looking forward to helping Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen make the next step forward.”

Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi will be Alfa Romeo’s driver line-up for 2020.  

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