Daniel Ricciardo, Will Arnett to Host ESPN Alternate Telecast for Three Formula 1 Races

ESPN is bringing a new, additional viewing option to its coverage of three Formula 1 races this season with an alternate telecast that will complement the event’s traditional television production.

The hosts of the new telecast will be F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, one of the sport’s most popular and charismatic drivers, and actor/comedian Will Arnett, a tremendous fan of the sport who previously hosted an F1-centric podcast.

The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will debut for the June 18 Formula 1 Pirelli Canadian Grand Prix, airing on ESPN2 beginning at 1:55 p.m. ET while the traditional race telecast airs on ABC (coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m.). The other two editions will be with the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Tex., on Oct. 22, and the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18.

Produced by ESPN in collaboration with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, the telecast will follow the success of the innovative and critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli alternate telecast that debuted in 2021.

“As Formula 1’s popularity continues to grow in the United States, we’re pleased to provide fans with another way to enjoy the sport, and a way for new fans to learn more about it,” said Kate Jackson, ESPN Vice President, Production “Daniel’s effervescent personality will resonate on television, as will his hands-on knowledge.

“And we’re very excited to be working with Will,” Jackson said. “He will bring the perspective of a dedicated fan of F1 to the telecasts as well as his unique and humorous way of appreciating F1. It will be a great combination.”  

During the telecast, Riccardo and Arnett will welcome an array of guests to offer running commentary and conversation about the ongoing race. For the debut episode, Ricciardo will be on location at the racetrack in Montreal while Arnett will join from a remote location.

Ricciardo, an eight-time Grand Prix winner in F1 competition, is currently the third driver for Oracle Red Bull Racing. The Australian first raced in F1 in 2011, quickly becoming known as the Honey Badger, for his aggression on track and smiley demeanor off track.

“This is going to be a hoot!” said Ricciardo. “As you’d expect Will and I are going to have some fun with the show, but we’re hoping it just feels like you’re watching F1 with your mates. We will have some amazing guests, plenty of laughs and with some luck, bring fans another step closer to the sport I love so much. Buckle up America!”

Arnett, who is known for his roles in shows including Arrested Development and 30 Rock and co-hosts the popular SmartLess podcast, emerged as a fan of F1 in recent years and worked with legendary F1 driver Mika Häkkinen on his former podcast.

“The more I learn about Formula 1, the more I’m intrigued by it,” said Arnett. “The opportunity to work with Mika on my podcast was fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to doing this show with Daniel. We’re going to have fun, and so will the viewers.”

At last year’s U.S. Grand Prix, ESPN and Formula 1 announced a new, multi-year agreement to keep F1 races on ESPN and ABC through the 2025 season. The agreement included expanded rights, giving ESPN flexibility to roll out additional ways for fans in the U.S. to consume F1 content over the next three years, including the new alternate telecast.

ESPN also has added a digital show this year, with the program airing from the race location for all U.S. races, and multiple races are being simulcast on ESPN+, providing more viewing options.

In early 2022, ESPN and The Walt Disney Company announced an expanded agreement with Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company, a relationship that launched Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli. The extension added a fourth year (through 2024 season) for Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, featuring a 10-game annual slate of alternative productions to ESPN’s traditional Monday Night Football telecast. Additionally, the agreement called for alternative presentations (with other hosts) for the NBA, College Football, Golf, and UFC, produced by Omaha Productions in collaboration with ESPN.

“It’s great to be partnering with ESPN to expand the ‘megacast’ format into F1,” said Peyton Manning, founder of Omaha Productions. “We are excited to do this project with Daniel and Will. They are good friends who will bring expertise and fun to the broadcast.”

The 2022 F1 season averaged 1.21 million viewers per race across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, a 28 percent increase over the previous U.S. television record of 949,000 average viewers that was set in 2021. The 2022 season also became the first in U.S. television history to average 1 million or more viewers per race.

In addition, more female and younger viewers watched F1 races on U.S. television than ever before.

Formula 1 returned to its original U.S. television home in 2018 – the first race ever aired in the country was on ABC in 1962. F1 races also aired on ESPN from 1984-1997.

Adam Sinclair