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2003 Formula One Grand Prix season proves popular with TV audiences 01 May 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams BMW FW25 passes Jenson Button (GBR) BAR Honda 005..
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, Brazil, 4 April 2003

Encouraging TV viewing figures since the start of the 2003 Formula One season are evidence that the sport is still a favourite armchair spectacle.

TV audiences for the Australian Grand Prix, which for Europe was broadcast in the early hours of Sunday morning, were up on last year in key territories, with noticeable increases in the UK, Canada, Brazil as well as in Australia itself.

The Brazilian Grand Prix attracted the highest terrestrial audience in the UK, on ITV, since the 2000 season, peaking with a figure higher than ITV achieved for the coverage of the UEFA Champions League 1st Leg between Real Madrid and Manchester United. In Spain, assisted by the emergence of Fernando Alonso, TVE 2's coverage of the race produced audience shares that peaked at over 20%, which at the time was enough to beat both Tele Cinca and Antenna 3's audience shares, a feat rarely achieved. TV audiences also increased significantly in other European markets such as Italy, France and Germany.

2002 was not the one of the best years for Formula One. Michael and Ferrari were too competitive. We have now seen a big step forward in McLaren, Williams and Renault with more to come. This coupled with more incidents and uncertainties in the first three races made Formula One a must to watch. Despite the San Marino Grand Prix weekend falling over the Easter weekend, when armchairs are likely to be vacated in favour of deckchairs, the viewing figures still showed a positive trend, with the race capturing a larger share of the available audience than the previous year, in important European markets.

"As well the race itself to look forward to, the debut of the new Ferrari at the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix will make this another weekend's viewing not to be missed," said Bernie Ecclestone.

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