Sky Sports is under major pressure to make Sir Lewis Hamilton’s bid to secure a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 world title free-to-air ahead of Sunday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.
MPs and peers on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorsport led calls on Monday for this weekend’s race to be made available to the nation in the same way as the 2019 Cricket World Cup final – won by England – and this year’s US Open women’s singles final – which witnessed a fairy-tale triumph for Emma Raducanu.
The calls began less than 24 hours after Hamilton beat Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian GP to draw level on points with his championship rival in one of the most dramatic races the sport has seen.
That set-up a winner-takes-all shootout in which Hamilton will aim to complete a stunning comeback in the title race and move clear of Michael Schumacher as the most decorated driver in F1 history.
Lord Hain, the co-chair of the APPG and former Labour cabinet minister who campaigned successfully for Hamilton to be awarded a knighthood, told Telegraph Sport: “I hope Sky will agree with a free-to-air TV channel to make this historic event available to all the many millions who would want to watch and cheer on Lewis, who is Britain’s biggest ever global sports star on the threshold of Formula 1 immortality.”
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch, a vice-chair of the APPG and a board member of the Hamilton Commission set up to increase diversity in motorsport, added: “Having worked on the Lewis Hamilton Commission, I strongly believe what better way to inspire the next generation, especially the young black children that Lewis so desperately wants to see in racing, than showing the race on free-to-air TV.”
When is it?
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend runs from Friday December 10 until Sunday December 12.
What time does the race start?
First practice on Friday December 10 starts at 9.30am with second practice at 1pm. Final practice is at 10am on Saturday December 11 with qualifying at 1pm.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix itself starts at 1pm on Sunday December 12.
Will Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen win the F1 world title?
The 2021 Formula One season has been one of the finest in recent memory with Verstappen and Hamilton going head-to-head for much of the year.
Red Bull’s Verstappen and Hamilton are level on points heading into the title decider at Yas Marina after a tempestuous and controversial season.