The Fox Sports Media Group has released a statement to the Associated Press that states that the motor sport and automobile-centric channel Speed will not air Formula 1 races after the end of this season.
The channel had been the home of F1 on television in the United States for 17 years and based on AP’s anonymous sources Fox has been outbid NBC Sports Group for the broadcast rights for F1 in America.
On a personal note, the news leaves me pretty sad. I had spent a large part of 2003-07 and 2010 in America as a student and Speed was my sanctuary in a country where motor sport equals NASCAR.
In Speed, I saw a channel that featured truly committed and passionate motor sport journalists and personalities like Dave Despain, Bob Varsha, ex-Benetton mechanic Steve Machette, David Hobbs, Peter Windsor and Will Buxton (the last two, who I have had the pleasure of meeting in person and interacting with).
In relation to the relatively simplistic coverage of F1 in India on ESPN Star Sports, the detailed coverage on Speed was an F1 junkie’s dream come true. To the point that I would religiously be awake by 5:30 am on race weekends so as to not miss any of the live action.
It’s F1 coverage aside, Speed rounded off its coverage of motor sport excellently with Le Mans, WRC, MotoGP and road racing in America. Not to mention coverage of classic car shows and classic car racing.
This may be coming to an end soon as well as Fox plans to convert the channel into a broad-based sports channel with a new name.
If it is indeed NBC that will get the rights to F1 from next year, I hope they do it as much justice as Speed did to the sport and motor sport in general.