SPEED and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management have reached an agreement to extend a relationship that dates back to 1996, the network's first full season on the air, it was announced earlier this week.

SPEED will continue to offer its long-running live coverage of the FIA F1 World Championship in the United States, including live coverage of qualifying and practice sessions.

"The global F1 fan base is one of the most passionate in all of motor sports," said SPEED president Hunter Nickell. "In America, fans gather at all hours of the morning -- with races coming in from places like Malaysia, Singapore and Monaco -- to watch SPEED and cheer their favourite drivers and constructors. We look forward to continuing and expanding our relationship with these fans, both on air and through SPEEDtv.com."

"I've been on pins and needles waiting for this new agreement, and I've lost track of how many questions I've answered from our viewers regarding what the future holds, whether we'll see much of our colleague Peter Windsor in his new role as a team boss, and so much more," continued Bob Varsha, the long-time SPEED voice of F1.

"Anyone who was a part of the paddock fun at the old USGP at Indy knows that our fans are smart, loyal and vocal. I look forward to trying to give them what they expect on grand prix weekends for years to come."

SPEED began covering F1 racing in 1996 with delayed race broadcasts, moving to live coverage in 1997. Beginning in 2010, SPEED also will have on-line clip usage rights from F1.

"We are delighted with the ability to offer F1 video clips online at SPEEDtv.com" added Kevin Annison, VP Digital & Interactive Media for SPEED. "Acquiring broader F1 on-line rights was important to SPEED as it is one of the most popular sections of the site."

Four F1 races will air on FOX this season with the SPEED on-air team calling the action. Those four races, which will be consecutive events, have yet to be named.

Varsha already is expecting big things from the 2010 season, which begins March 14 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Every season we think nothing could possibly top the previous one," Varsha summed-up. "But despite three straight world championships that came down to the final race, followed last year by the unlikely triumph of Jenson Button and Brawn GP, I think 2010 will be even better.

"We'll have the biggest field of cars since the '90s, so knockout qualifying will be crazier than ever. Three new teams, including one from here in the USA, new tracks, new rules, a new points system, no refuelling, narrower front tyres, the return of the Canadian GP and, we are told, the return of Michael Schumacher! What more can we ask?"


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