The Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend will, like the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, be another ‘twilight’ race.
These two races have later start times in an effort to improve television audiences in Europe. But is it safe to start races so late, and does it make any difference to the television figures?
Should F1 have 'Twilight' races?
- No opinion (5%)
- No (67%)
- Yes (28%)
Total Voters: 1,104
Nico Rosberg was one of the drivers who criticised the decision to run the Australian Grand Prix so late in the day. Speaking after the race he said:
If the monsoon comes down, the race is going to have to be stopped because we can’t race and drive with that amount of water,” the German told Reuters. I think twilight racing is not the way to go. In Melbourne it was obvious that it just increases the danger so much. The visibility is so difficult, you can’t even see the edges of the track in some corners. I was driving into the sun and that’s not what racing is about. So I really hope they reconsider that.
Robert Kubica agrees:
In Australia it was a big issue with the visibility at the end of the race, it was very poor, especially in the last sector. It was quite dangerous, even very dangerous. Here by postponing the race you have a higher probability of rain but we will see. It will be cloudy and rainy, most likely it will be very dark, if there will be no rain but it’s sunny we might have the same problems as in Australia with very low sun.
With heavy rain very likely during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, starting the race so late ay make it impossible to run properly.
The combination of low evening light and a Malaysian rain storm could make visibility too poor for the race to be run. What would happen then? Would they delay the race until Monday? Would we see dozens of laps completed behind the safety car as happened at Fuji two years ago?
And do ‘twilight’ races really improve TV viewership in Europe? Early audience figures for the Australian Grand Prix broadcast in Britain do suggest a significant rise over last year but there are competing reasons for why that might have happened: such as increased interest due to Lewis Hamilton’s title victory and Jenson Button getting into a race-winning car, or because of better coverage and promotion by the BBC.
These races may now be on at a more sociable hour in Europe but it’s bad news for fans in America and other countries.
The later start to the race caused various problems for the Australian Grand Prix organisers. Valuable corporate customers stayed away as the later start made getting flights after the race difficult.
I think twilight races are a poor compromise. Casual sports fans are increasingly used to be able to watch events when they choose to thanks to personal video recorders and on-demand ‘as-live’ replays. They are not much more likely to watch a race at 7am instead of 4am.
What do you think of ‘twilight races’? Cast your vote above and have your say in the comments.