Formula 1 fans on track for a big picture quality upgrade thanks to Sky TV

A still image of two F1 cars from Drive to Survive
(Image credit: Netflix)

Things are pretty rosy for Formula 1 fans right now. A week after Drive to Survive returned to Netflix and pre-season testing got underway in Bahrain, Sky looks set to broadcast the first Grand Prix of the year in glorious High Dynamic Range (HDR). 

John Archer, TechRadar TV reviewing-regular and reporter for Forbes, recently reported on a tip suggesting the UK broadcaster would be debuting 4K HDR video options for this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions – a rumour that has since been confirmed by a senior Sky source, Archer claims. 

What’s more, while the company has yet to officially announce the move to introduce HDR video options into its live F1 coverage in the UK, the menus of Sky’s programme guide now include an (albeit hard-to-find) F1 tab entitled “Introducing Ultra HDR.” 

It’s worth noting that said menu tab doesn’t include any reference to time – there’s no mention of “soon” here – but judging by Archer’s claims regarding direct confirmation from Sky, we’d say that a HDR video option does indeed seem likely to arrive with the broadcaster’s Bahrain Grand Prix coverage this weekend.

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It’s also worth clarifying that HDR-enhanced F1 coverage has been available on Sky platforms elsewhere in the world for some time. Germany, for example, currently offers the premium video quality option on all qualifying sessions and races for those with the appropriate subscription packages (they still don’t get Dolby Atmos, though).

Sky’s terminology is a little off, mind. Ultra HDR is not a technical term, per se – but it presumably refers to Sky’s implementation of HDR enhancements on its existing Ultra HD (UHD, i.e. 4K) video coverage. 

 What is HDR, exactly?

So, what would HDR actually bring to F1 coverage on Sky? 

Well, HDR is essentially all about colour vibrancy and peak brightness. Not to be confused with the HDR photography options that have recently been added to smartphone cameras, TV-ready HDR is based on the source content used to display images on a screen (rather than a combination of still images).

The end result is the same, though; HDR TVs still deliver an expanded colour gamut and contrast ratio. That means bright spots are even brighter and darker areas of an image even darker – HDR black is noticeably different to non-HDR black, for example. 

How that translates to improved F1 coverage is fairly self-explanatory. Especially with this year’s particularly extravagant decals, each F1 car would look even more detailed on-screen (picture the vibrant turquoise strips of the Mercedes W13 or deep crimson red of the Ferrari F1-75).

Essentially, then, Sky TV customers in the UK will soon have the option to enjoy this year's title race in better quality than ever. 

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.