BBC is back on the grid with £150mTV deal

Last updated at 15:10 20 March 2008

The BBC today pulled off a coup by

securing the rights to Formula One

for five years from the 2009 season.

The announcement marks the

return of the sport to BBC screens

for the first time since 1996, when ITV moved onto

the starting grid.

The big draw is Britain's Lewis Hamilton,who finished second in the world championship

in 2007 and last Sunday won the opening

round of this year's title chase in Australia.

It is understood the BBC could be paying

Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration

company up to £150million for a deal which

will see races feature on the BBC Sport website

as well as on TV and radio.

Ecclestone said: “It is an exciting

time and the BBC has some innovative

new ideas to consolidate and

expand our UK fan base.”

Commentator Murray Walker,

84, and the iconic theme tune The

Chain are set to play their part as

the BBC attempts to revive a golden

era of Grand Prix broadcasting.

Walker is expected to make guest

appearances behind the microphone at

races such as the British Grand Prix.

He said: “I'm flabbergasted. I was

lying in bed listening to the news this

morning and I almost fell out of bed when I

heard. It's an amazing development.”

ITV snatched F1 away from the BBC for the

1997 season.

While their coverage gained industry awards

it never won the hearts of die-hard motor racing

fans irritated by up to five three-minute commercial

breaks during every race.

ITV were censured by regulator Ofcom in 2005

after they ran adverts during a tense conclusion

to the San Marino Grand Prix and were

forced to repeat the last three laps after

the race had finished.

More recently, the standard of commentating

was criticised by Honda technical

genius Ross Brawn.

He said: “Our

commentators don't seem very good

at conveying what is going on.”

Ecclestone added: “The BBC will

be able to service us an awful lot better.

It will be a fresh face.”

Roger Mosey, BBC director of

sport, hinted that Jeremy Clarkson

and the Top Gear crew might

become involved with coverage.

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