The BBC initially had exclusive UK rights from 2009 until the end of the 2013 season, but because of the licence fee freeze and resultant review of cost constraints, the BBC were expected to leave F1 after the 2011 season.
A new broadcast rights deal was announced on 29 July 2011, that Sky Sports would cover all races live, whilst BBC Sport would cover 10 live including the British Grand Prix and show highlights of the other 10. BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will continue to broadcast live commentary of the whole season, including practice, qualifying and the races.
There was a lot of controversy about switching Formula One coverage at least in part to pay television, as the BBC brought Sky into the discussions a few days before the deal was announced, despite a rival bid from Channel 4.
In November 2011, Sky announced the new dedicated F1 channel would launch in March 2012, and will air all F1 races with coverage of practice sessions, qualifying and the race, live and commercial free.
On 13 January 2012, an advert was released saying the channel would launch on 9 March 2012, seven days before the start of the 2012 Formula One season. During 2012, the channel was on air for sixty-three hours during race weeks and thirty-two hours during non-race weeks. Sky Sports F1 announced via Twitter that there would not be a dedicated Sky Sports F1 app, however the F1 section on the Sky Sports News app was enhanced.
Sky Sports F1 HD launched with a two hour special of The F1 Show, presented by Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill, previewing the 2012 Formula One season.