F1 to finally go HD in 2011

Motorsports fans, rejoice. Formula One took its sweet time in rolling out coverage in glorious High Definition, but starting next season, viewers will be able to soak up all the open-wheel action in 1080i resolution. According to Autosport, F1 organizers have been toying with the notion of delivering an HD feed for some time. This winter, Formula One Management began testing brand-new equipment to make sure that broadcasts could be made at the rate of 42 mbps. Those tests apparently went well, as FOM has announced that every F1 camera will be replaced with new HD hardware. In-car cameras, meanwhile, will still be standard definition.
So far, a handful of broadcasters have already committed to carrying the new HD coverage, including Sky Germany and Globo in Brazil. There's no word as to whether American fans will be able to sink their eyeballs into the 1080i broadcast or if we'll be stuck with a scaled-down version of the feed. According to Autosport, that's exactly what most viewers in the UK can expect. Rumor has it that the BBC has its eyes on broadcasting the races on its HD channel and then downscaling the footage for the rest of its viewers. Thanks to all for the tips!

*Updated with official press release from SPEED TV after the jump.

[Sources: SPEED, Autosport]



For the first time ever, the international feed for the FIA Formula One World Championship™ is being originated and offered in High Definition, giving U.S. F1 fans something to cheer about in 2011.

"We couldn't be more pleased with this decision and our ability to bring our rabid F1 fan base coverage of their favorite racing in HD in 2011," said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP Production & Network Operations. "And SPEED is going the extra mile, installing continuous fiber service to guarantee the best possible picture quality."

The Formula One season opens March 13 with live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix on SPEED. Sixteen of the season's 20 races will be live and exclusive to SPEED in the U.S., with four events airing on FOX.

"This is great news for fans of Formula One on SPEED, and an overdue one as well," said Bob Varsha, the longtime host of F1 race broadcasts on SPEED. "Our engineers have done great work in recent seasons enhancing the digital feed we and the rest of the world have been supplied, but once SPEED went to high definition it was obvious there was something missing. This announcement means those days are now over, and viewers will be able to enjoy the spectacle of F1 with the clarity and color of true HD. I can't wait for Bahrain in March."

SPEED made the move to High Definition in February of 2008, before building and moving into a state-of-the-art HD facility in Charlotte, NC later that same year.

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