Ten alternatives to watching F1 highlights


In just over a week from now the fun will begin as the new Formula 1 season roars into life down under in Melbourne.

Terrestrial television viewers, however, will have to wait that little bit longer for their F1 fix, as their ability to watch all the grands prix live has been taken away from them.

Annoying? Yes. Frustrating? Very much so. But it’s not all doom and gloom motorsport fans, because there’s never been a better time to attend some of the many race meetings that feature on the UK’s jam-packed calendar.

With more than 200 separate championships being contested this year, there is nearly always something going on and, no matter whereabouts you live, there is a race track within reasonable distance.

And I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend my money on going to a circuit to see racing in the flesh – while inhaling the smell of burnt rubber and topping up my vitamin D levels – than I would on an expensive subscription to Sky.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the highlights on the national racing calendar that coincide with the weekends when the BBC will be showing delayed F1 highlights. What’s a few more hours of waiting to watch condensed coverage on the iPlayer when it’s not live anyway?

1  Australian Grand Prix 2  Malaysian Grand Prix
3  Bahrain Grand Prix 4  Canadian Grand Prix
5  German Grand Prix 6  Hungarian Grand Prix
7  Italian Grand Prix 8  Japanese Grand Prix
9  Indian Grand Prix 10  American Grand Prix
Date: 18th March 2012 BBC viewing time: 14:00 – 16:00
Alternative: Historic Sports Car Club (Donington Park)

HSCC (Donington)What better way to kick off a season of spectating than with a trip to one of the UK’s most prestigious racing circuits?

On the weekend of March 17th, Donington Park plays host to the HSCC’s bumper race meeting and, with a fantastic array of old school machinery on display, it looks like being a right nostalgic treat.

Tackling the legendary Craner Curves will be competitors from 11 classic-orientated championships. From pre-1966 touring cars and GT monsters, to more nimble single-seaters in the form of old Formula Fords, Formula 2 and Formula 3 vehicles, historic racing fans will certainly be in their element!

Venue: Donington Park Ticket price: Adults £15; under 15s free.
Web: donington-park.co.uk Tel: 01332 810048
Other alternatives: Mini Drivers (Goodwood).

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Date: 25th March 2012 BBC viewing time: 14:45 – 16:45
Alternative: British Racing and Sports Car Club (Silverstone)

While the newly-named Caterham F1 Team try and take the fight to the midfield teams in the Malaysian Grand Prix, their lightweight sportscar cousins will be taking over the home of British motorsport.

This all-Caterham meeting takes place on Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit and, with strong grids and fantastically close racing, it should prove to be an excellent day’s worth of motor racing.

But why limit the fun to just one day? Make a weekend of it and you’ll also be able to watch the three-hour first round of this year’s Britcar Championship on Saturday. Worth throwing the tent in the boot, I would imagine.

Venue: Silverstone Ticket price: Check website for details.
Web: silverstone.co.uk Tel: 0844 3750 740
Other alternatives: MSVR (Brands Hatch)

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Date: 22nd April 2012 BBC viewing time: 17:30 – 19:00
Alternative: British Automobile Racing Club (Donington)
Mighty Minis

© classic-mini.co.uk

Back to Donington Park, but with a different organising club this time as the BARC take over the 1.95-mile race circuit with a spot of Mini racing.

Three Mini-centric championships will be contested at Donington while the Bahrain Grand Prix gets under way – if it does of course – and I could confidently say which will provide the most entertainment.

Made up of an eclectic mix of individuals who are able to mix hard racing with good humour, the Dunlop Mini and Mighty Mini Championships would certainly meet Sir Alec Issigonis’ approval.

Elsewhere, aspiring young drivers will be fighting it out in the Dunlop InterSteps Championship. Who knows, you may even see the next Sebastian Vettel take the chequered flag?

Venue: Donington Park Ticket price: Adults £15; under 15s free.
Web: donington-park.co.uk Tel: 01332 810048
Other alternatives: British Truck Championship (Brands Hatch); HSCC (Cadwell Park)

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Date: 10th June 2012 BBC viewing time: 22:30 – 00:30
Alternative: BTCC & BARC (Oulton Park)

Oulton Park is the setting for the fourth round of the British Touring Car Championship on Sunday 10th June.

One of the most challenging circuits on the BTCC calendar, it lends itself to some of the best racing action of the season and the sight of cars running wide at Old Hall, overtaking at the Island hairpin, slipstreaming at Druids and braking late at Lodge is enough to get any tin-top racing fan excited.

The three BTCC races are backed up by some excellent support races, including the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Renault Clio Cup and the two Ginetta categories. Completing the packed support bill is the Formula Renault UK Championship.

With plenty of elevated viewing areas, a trip to Oulton Park is a must for any motor racing fan

Venue: Oulton Park Ticket price: Adults from £25; under 13s free.
Web: oultonpark.co.uk Tel: 0843 453 9000
Other alternatives: British F3 (Rockingham); Autosport Three-Hours (Snetterton); BRSCC (Brands Hatch); BARC (Silverstone); BRSCC (Knockhill); MEC (Mondello Park).

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Date: 22nd July 2012 BBC viewing time: 17:30 – 19:00
Alternative: Silverstone Classic (Silverstone)

Combining classic cars, historic racing, live music and even a funfair; this year’s Silverstone Classic certainly looks like being a memorable event.

Over 1,000 competitors will be racing in more than 800 vehicles that cover motor racing history right up to the nineties, some of which are seldom seen tearing up race circuits in the UK.

This three-day jamboree features plenty of off-track entertainment for race fans and their families as well, with the infield hosting all manner of attractions that will cater for just about everyone.

There will also be around 7,000 classic cars on display, retail outlets to splash some cash on auto memorabilia, and then, in the evenings, some live music from the likes of Mike & The Mechanics, Adam Ant and Tetra Electra.

Speaking of evenings, the Group C sportscar race that is expected to take place around dusk on Saturday evening will definitely be something to savour. Sheer, unadulterated, fever.

Venue: Silverstone Ticket price: Check website for details.
Web: silverstoneclassic.com Tel: 0871 231 0849
Other alternatives: British Rally Cross (Mallory Park); CCRC (Castle Combe); BRSCC (Snetterton); MSVR (Cadwell Park); CCC (Mondello Park).

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Date: 29th July 2012 BBC viewing time: 17:30 – 19:00
Alternative: British Racing and Sports Car Club (Silverstone)

One word sums up this BRSCC race meeting at Silverstone: diverse.

Modified sports and saloon cars from the other side of the globe will be competing in the Nippon Challenge Championship, with yet more Asian goodness in the form of the regularly entertaining MR2 Racing Series.

But if you like your motorsport a little bit more home-grown, then the Formula Ford 1600, Mighty Minis or TVR Challenge championships should make you feel patriotic.

Rounding off this eclectic mix of racing is the BRSCC Porsche Championship. A tightly controlled cost-effective series, it regularly provides close racing and maximum enjoyment for drivers and spectators alike.

Venue: Silverstone Ticket price: Check website for details.
Web: silverstone.co.uk Tel: 0844 3750 740
Other alternatives: Classic Touring Car Festival (Mallory Park); AMOC (Donington Park); BARC (Thruxton).

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Date: 9th September 2012 BBC viewing time: 17:30 – 19:00
Alternative: British F3 & British GT (Silverstone)

Two of the best national championships will make their welcome return to Silverstone towards the end of the season on the 8th September.

For six decades British F3 has been churning out grand prix stars of the future. Champions include the likes of Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, and recent graduates Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will be applying their trade in the pinnacle of motorsport this year. The crop of talent looking to replicate their success this year looks no less exciting.

The penultimate round of the British GT Championship will also be contested as drivers pedal their supercars in what promises to be a three-hour endurance race spectacular.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also Formula Ford, Formula Renault UK, Ginettas and the Volkswagen Racing Cup to keep you entertained. Phew!

Venue: Silverstone Ticket price: Adults £20; under 15s free.
Web: silverstone.co.uk Tel: 0844 3750 740
Other alternatives: BARC (Cadwell Park); KMSC (Knockhill); DDMC (Croft).

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Date: 7th October 2012 BBC viewing time: 14:00 – 16:00
Alternative: BTCC & BARC (Silverstone)

The BTCC posse will once again race on Silverstone’s rather diminutive National Circuit this year. Which of course means there will be more opportunity to the see plenty of the wheel-to-wheel, paint rubbing, action that the series is renowned for.

Running under the BARC banner, the support line-up includes additional championships in the form of the Formula Renault BARC and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge categories.

Venue: Silverstone Ticket price: Adults £23.20; under 15s free.
Web: silverstone.co.uk Tel: 0844 3750 740
Other alternatives: Caterham Festival (Rockingham); CCRC (Castle Combe); MSVR (Brands Hatch); 750MC (Snetterton); HRDC & BRSCC (Mallory Park); SMRC (Knockhill).

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Date: 28th October 2012 BBC viewing time: 17:30 – 19:00
Alternative: Formula Ford Festival (Brands Hatch)

The Formula Ford Festival is one of the most prestigious prizes in motorsport for aspiring young drivers, and the Festival’s roll-call is a who’s who of racing.

With an illustrious list of previous winners that include Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson and former F1 World Champion Jenson Button, it’s no wonder the Festival continues to attract racers from all over the world.

With support races from Ford Fiesta and Sports 2000 Duratec, Pinto and Historic categories, those who make the trip to Kent’s famous race circuit will certainly get plenty of bang for their buck

Venue: Brands Hatch Ticket price: Adults £10; under 13s free.
Web: brandshatch.co.uk Tel: 0843 453 9000
Other alternatives: MSVR (Snetterton).

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Date: 18th November 2012 BBC viewing time: 22:30 – 00:30
Alternative: The Classic Motor Show (Birmingham NEC)

Okay, so this one isn’t really a motor racing event as such, but you try finding anything motorsport-related to spectate on at such a late stage in the year!

The Classic Motor Show is a celebration of motoring of all ages and models, from popular classics to the rare and exotic.  It acts as the end-of-season finale for the classic car scene and attracts many tens of thousands of enthusiasts from all over the UK.

So, whether you are looking for a specialist part, accessory or vehicle, or just want to gawp at the amazing display of over 1,200 cars, it’s all under one roof at the Birmingham NEC.

Venue: Birmingham NEC Ticket price: Currently unavailable
Web: classicmotorshow.com Tel: 0844 3388000
Other alternatives: None.

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All images © lsphotos.co.uk, unless otherwise stated.
All event details and prices correct at the time of writing.


    • An alternative to all of that would be to just rotate your satellite dish clockwise a little and watch F1 on RTL for free. Of course the commentary is in German, but it’s in English on Radio5-Live, so just turn the sound down on your TV and turn it up on the radio – job done :o) As far as I’m aware, theres nothing illegal about doing this.

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