Five F1 races, including Australia, to start earlier
Formula One`s Australian season-opener in Melbourne on March 15 is one of five grands prix that will start an hour earlier this year under recommendations made after Jules Bianchi`s crash in Japan last October.
London: Formula One`s Australian season-opener in Melbourne on March 15 is one of five grands prix that will start an hour earlier this year under recommendations made after Jules Bianchi`s crash in Japan last October.
Formula One Management (FOM) detailed the start times for the 20 race season in a document sent to participants and broadcasters and seen by Reuters.
Australia`s will start at 1600 local, although Saturday qualifying remains at 1700, while Malaysia is brought forward to 1500. China, Japan and Russia will all start at 1400 local.
Mexico, which is returning to the calendar for the first time since 1992, was handed a 1300 local start time.
French driver Bianchi suffered severe brain injuries at Suzuka when he skidded off track, in fading light and heavy rain, and collided with a recovery tractor. He remains in hospital in France in critical condition.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) set up an accident panel to investigate the crash and one of its recommendations, in a report published last month, was for earlier starts.
"It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the start time of an event shall not be less than four hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races," it said.
Formula One has floodlit races in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and the trend has been for later starts in Asia to boost television viewing figures in Europe.
Malaysian circuit boss Razlan Razali told Reuters last week that he would welcome an earlier start for a race that has been affected by late afternoon tropical downpours in the past.
"We said if you want to go back to three PM, we fully support it," he said. Qualifying for the race at Sepang will start at 1700 local, however.
Melbourne organisers had sounded less keen on the time change, with Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott expressing his reluctance in the Herald Sun newspaper last week.
"The race time will remain at five PM as per agreement with the AGPC and Formula One Management, which means Melbourne, as the opening race of the season, airs in Asia at lunchtime and Europe at breakfast," he said then.
Russia`s earlier start comes after talk last year of the race in Sochi switching to a floodlit night format.