Internet giant Tencent has agreed a new digital rights deal in China with motor racing’s prestigious Formula 1 (F1) series through the 2024 season.

Under the multi-year agreement, Tencent will stream all practice and qualifying sessions, F1 Sprint events, and grands prix across its digital platforms Tencent Sports, Tencent Video, Tencent News, OTT, and QQ.

The deal marks the return of F1 to Tencent and accompanies existing broadcast deals in the market with Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV and regional free-to-air channels Guangzhou TV and Shanghai TV.

Last year, F1 signed a short-term deal with China Telecom, the state-owned telecommunications firm, to stream the final six races of the 2022 season.

Ian Holmes, director of media rights and content creation at Formula 1 said: “Tencent’s extensive digital portfolio is complementary to our existing broadcast offering in the market, providing us with an excellent platform to connect with our passionate and growing fan base in China.

“With the 2023 season officially underway, we look forward to working closely with Tencent to bring the drama and excitement of F1 to our fans in China.” 

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Jeff Han, vice president of Tencent Video added: “We are excited to bring Formula 1 to racing fans in China. Tencent will use its vast resources in distribution, production, broadcasting, intensive operation, and social engagement to share inspiring and compelling stories of the 2023 season to a broader audience.”

A race in China was due to return to the calendar this year as part of a record 24-race season after a four-year absence but was canceled by F1 in December due to “ongoing difficulties” with the country’s strict Covid-19 policy.

F1 opted not to replace the Chinese Grand Prix and went with a 23-race season, which will still be the longest in the series’ history despite the absence of the Shanghai event.

China has not staged a grand prix since 2019.

Despite the long absence, F1 agreed an extended deal in 2021 for the Shanghai International Circuit to continue staging races until 2025.

The 2023 season continues with the Canadian Grand Prix on June 18.

Image: Adam Pretty/Getty Images