Formula One is back! After an agonising delay of over 220 days caused by the coronavirus pandemic, F1 is finally going racing again. It's a shorter season but it's packed with races, so there should be plenty of action as 20 cars battle it out for the 70th FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Ready, steady, go, go, go!
So, what's the story with the 2020 season? So far, the FIA, Formula One's governing body has announced the opening eight races – squeezed into 10 just weeks. Barring a second wave of COVID-19, more races will be announced, including the season finale in mid-December. Sadly, some iconic races, including Monaco, will not go ahead.
On a more positive note, the 2020 F1 season will kick-off with the Austrian Grand Prix at the ultra-modern Red Bull Ring on July 5th. Of course, the action starts with practice on Friday 3rd July and qualifying on Saturday 4th.
The action will take place behind closed doors, journalists are banned from the paddock and Martin Brundle's gridwalk has been put on ice. Still, while the atmosphere at the races will be be different, the action on the tracks should be as fierce as ever.
Mercedes is sitting pretty at the top of the performance table. Current World Champion Lewis Hamilton recently unveiled the team's striking black livery, inspired by the Black Lives Matter campaign. Can Hamilton grab a seventh world title and equal Michael Schumacher's tally?
Red Bull aren't far behind. They've secured some seriously-fast upgrades to their Honda engines, so there's every chance that Max Verstappen can make it three Austrian Grand Prix victories in a row on Sunday.
Ferrari appear to be in turmoil. They've scrapped parts of their car and effectively started again after team principal Mattia Binotto admitted, "We don't have the fastest package."
It's a devastating turn of events for young hot-shot and World Champion-in-waiting, Charles Leclerc, who is starting the season as Ferrari's number one driver. Teammate Sebastian Vettel has already announced he'll depart at the end of this season, with McLaren driver Carlos Sainz already announced as his replacement.
Following the Austrian Grand Prix, we'll be treated to many more races including the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. The delayed start to this season means the massive regulation changes set for 2021, including radically-different car designs, have been pushed back to 2022 for cost-saving reasons.
Drivers, team personal and other F1 staff will be screened and tested before, during and after each race. According an FIA statement:
"Millions of people, including governments, around the world are keen to see live TV sport return as it will be a morale boost amongst fans and society. F1 believes the season can be re-started safely."
Revved up for the (belated) start to the F1 season? If you want to get your stream on and tune into the Austrian Grand Prix, then here’s how you do it in engine-growling surround sound and 4K style...
Formula One F1 TV Pro season pass
Formula 1 itself offers an on-demand and live streaming service to race fans everywhere. Exactly what you get depends on what country you're in, so it may be a case of making sure you're signed up to a VPN if you're away from home.
Those in the US, for example, can sign up to a $79.99 F1 TV Pro season pass with live streams of every track session for all Grands Prix, access to all driver onboard cameras and team radios and live streams of F1, F2, F3 and Porsche Supercup races.
There's also on-demand access to full race replays and highlights, the F1 onboard cameras, all F1, F2, F3 and Porsche Supercup replays and F1's historic race archive too - an excellent package for petrol heads.
Watch Formula One anywhere in the world using a VPN
We'll look at the TV and live stream options for UK and USA-based F1 fans below, but even after spending all that money on a subscription you're still not going to be able to watch the Grand Prix from another country.
There are certain territories where some or all of the races are free to air – so if you're away in Albania, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Russia, Slovenia, USA, the Middle East or North Africa, you may just need to tune in on your hotel TV or find a local bar. You can find a full list of the world's broadcasters with rights to show live Formula 1 here.
Anywhere else and you might want to get yourself a VPN instead. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can spoof an IP address which is local to the server you’d like to access. That way your service provider will think that you’re in the correct country to do so and allow you to watch the F1.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps you get around this obstacle. A VPN creates a private connection between your device and the internet, such that the servers and services you’re accessing aren’t aware of what you’re doing. All the information passing back and forth is entirely encrypted.
ExpressVPN three months free with a year-long plan
You can get three months free when you sign up to a year-long plan, bringing VPN access to smart devices including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, laptops, TVs and both Android and iOS mobiles and tablets. Express also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.View Deal
Once you’ve made your choice, all you need to do is sign in to your VPN service through whichever device you’d like to use to watch the match. When prompted to select a server, you need to pick one which is based in the country whose content you’d like to access. Then navigate to the relevant video streaming app or website and you’re in.
Watch Formula One live in the UK
Sky is the only place for UK viewers to watch the Formula One racing, practice and qualifying sessions all live in 4K resolution, on the company’s Ultra HD service. You’ll need to receive the Sky Sports F1 channel to enjoy all the coverage.
That comes bundled in with all the other sports channels as part of the £16 per month Sky Sports pack.
If that all sounds a bit much, then anyone can enjoy the F1 using Sky's pay-per-view platform, Now TV. Now TV is available on all good smart TVs and set-top-boxes You can choose between a day, week or month-long pass and it’s worth keeping an eye on just how many races each one might scoop up at any one time in the F1 calendar.
Now TV Sports day passes from £9.99
A day pass for sports on Now TV can cost as little as £9.99, with a weekly pass coming in at £14.99 for those after qualifying as well. A monthly pass is £33.99 if you want to cover two or three races.View Deal
The Sky Sports F1 HD channel is also available on Virgin Media as part of the Bigger + Sport TV bundle. It's £65 per month but it comes with all the other Sky Sports channels and all the BT Sports ones too, including BT Sports Ultra HD. All of that brings access to just about every televised sports action you'd care to mention including Premier League, Champions League and Europa League football.
If you're already a Virgin Media TV subscriber, then it may be a case of upping your package by just a few pounds per month.
It’s not all a dead loss without Sky in the UK. Channel 4 has the rights for the highlights of the F1 race and the F1 qualifiers which air a few hours after the end of the sessions. It’s also licensed to show the British Grand Prix live and in full. You can tune into the coverage in HD on Channel 4 and on the Channel 4 website.
Watch Formula One live in 4K
To watch in Ultra HD, you’ll need a Sky Q set-top-box and a package with Ultra HD and Sky Sports F1. That starts at £49 per month, with a one off payment of £20 if you’re not already a Sky subscriber. It’s a fair whack but it’s the only way to watch the F1 live and in 4K.
Watch Formula One live in the USA
Formula 1 fans in the States are lucky enough to be able to watch the some of the top class motorsports action for free. ABC has the rights to air the US, Mexico and Canadian Grand Prix live, with the Monaco Grand Prix shown in full but after the event.
For complete, all-season access to F1, Americans will need to sign up to the EPSN paid channels or Univision for the Spanish language coverage.
Live 2020 Formula One race calendar
The Formula One season usually runs from March to December 2020 with 22 races but that's all changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Below you'll find the dates for each of the Grand Prix on the 2020 Formula One calendar so far:
5th July – Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring, Austria
12th July – Formula 1 Pirelli Grosser Preis der Steiermark, Red Bull Ring, Austria
19th July – Formula 1 Aramco Magyar Nagydij, Hungaroring, Hungary
2nd Aug – Formula 1 Pirelli British Grand Prix, Silverstone, UK
9th Aug – Emirates Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, Silverstone, UK
16th Aug – Formula 1 Aramco Gran Premio de Espana, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain
30th Aug – Formula 1 Rolex Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
6th Sept – Formula 1 Gran Premio Heineken d'Italia, Monza, Italy