Ecclestone still wants Australian night race

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Bernie Ecclestone got the Australian Grand Prix promoters to run their Grand Prix as a ‘twilight race’ this year to suit European television audiences better.

But he’s still pushing for the event to be turned into a night race like the Singapore Grand Prix. He told the Herald Sun:

The later we can get the race, the better it is for us. Ron (Walker) and I are talking about all these things.
Bernie Ecclestone

It’s hard to see how the race can started any later without the track needing artificial lighting, which would be a huge expense. The last two races lost AUS$40m (22.59m / $36.85m) each.

Twilight races bring problems of their own: if a race is delayed the onset of nightfall means there’s no time left to get it finished, as happened at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

And several drivers were unhappy with the low light levels at the end of this year’s Australian Grand Prix.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect every race around the world to be held at a time that best suits European viewers. Particularly in a country where there’s more than enough local interest to support the race.

If Ecclestone is that keen to keep European television audiences happy he should re-think his policy if reducing the proportion of races held in Europe.

Twilight and night races

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Ecclestone still wants Australian night race”

  1. The thing is, when we had morning practice in Singapore, the setting looked absolutely beautiful. Then the night came down and all we saw was a Tesco car park circuit at night.

    Twilight races, yes, but for Abu Dhabi and Singapore, not Australia and Malaysia. I’d rather get up early. There are always re-runs shown at sensible times anyway.

  2. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    25th October 2009, 23:29

    If i was an Australian, i would be livid about this…

    1. Terry Fabulous
      26th October 2009, 0:04

      Australian: Tick
      Livid: Tick

      1. Agreed! And another thing: the late starting Grand Prix (Melbourne) was almost impossible to watch towards the end from the grandstands for the mere fact that the sun was setting and it got in our eyes.

        The spectators thought it was bad but we musn’t forget the drivers had to race F1 cars in that light. It would be very difficult to select an appropriate visor for the race because at different points of the circuit the light was completely different! So a tinted visor would be good when driving into the sun but when driving away from the sun it would be very dark.

        And I am sure that the Europeans can endure one late night/early morning for a change, after all, we do it for EVERY Grand Prix other than our own.

      2. Agreed. From a fans perspective being from this part of the world (New Zealand) this is ********. F1 is very much seen as a world sport, therefore it should cater to the world if it wants to grow. Fact is, with the season occuring all around the world everyone is going to get the short stick eventually in regards to viewing times, and europe currently gets in pretty sweet.

      3. same

        It wont happen…

        so what if europe has to watch 1 race at a weird hour…us Australian F1 fans have had to follow our sport at ungodly hours forever…now that is commitment!

        If you love the sport you do what you need to to…

        1. Of course, but Ecclestone isn’t after more hardcore fans (they’re harder to find and there’s fewer of them) he wants the casual audience.

          1. Bigbadderboom
            27th October 2009, 16:55

            Thats the truth, he is selling advertising space after all. It’s all abot the broader appeal, and although us fanatics may spend a bit more on merchandise, Bernie is chasing viewer numbers, thats what sets the price of the product.

  3. I live in Perth on the West Coast of Australia – closer to the european time zones and a state with buckets of cash from the resources industry. Bernie should be talking to the govt over here about a race to replace Melbourne with. A Kings Park GP combining the best of Spa AND Monaco? Look up Kings Park Perth WA on Google Earth and see for yourselves – we could have an awesome city street circuit here.

    1. I live in Perth as well, and the thought of any world motorsport taking place here plasters a grin on my face.

      Kings Park has some great roads, and F1 cars racing around them would be awesome, but realistically it would never happen… namely because of the fact that Kings Park is essentially a nature reserve.

      Ah well, we can dream… :D

      1. There seems to be plenty of land around Barbagallo for development. But then that’s not in the current F1 \ yatch \ marina \ new circuit thing is it.

        I wonder if using Tecpro barriers at Bathurst would make it a F1 possible venue?

        1. Ah, Barbagallo… There were plans for extending the track to keep the V8s there, but an F1 venue… probably never. Infrastructure and accessibility are two big stabs in the back for that track :(

          On the subject of Bathurst… Tecpro barriers wouldn’t be enough, I fear. If the Australian GP were ever to take place at Bathurst, they might as well flatten it. :P The FIA’s elevation-change regulations for new circuits to F1 would not agree with The Mountain at all.
          Still, if they were to relax the rules and put Bathurst on the calendar, I’d probably die a happy man. :D

          1. That would be my dream. Id love to just once see 20 F1 cars going through The Cutting, McPhillamy, Skyline and down through the esses, but i know there no chance of that ever happening :(

            There is however talk of building a short circuit at Bathurst. It would use the start finish straight, go half way up Mountain Straight, cut through the middle, across Condrod, lots of track alongside The Chase, before rejoining at the exit of the Chase and following the main circuit through Murrays and onto the pit straight. I dont know if they will ever build it but if they do it is said that it would be suitable for F1, MotoGP and Superbikes.

          2. Heres the link to the Bathurst Short Circuit design

  4. Another Aussie, I live in Melbourne and have been to the GP 9 times. Bernie needs to get over himself. It is after all the Formula 1 world championship, not the Formula 1 European championship.

    Just move it back to a 2pm start and accept that the Europeans will have to watch F1 at a screwy time of the night once or twice. The rest of it do it every fortnight for 7 months of the year!

      1. Amen! living in NZ means im up at 1am in the morning every race! I like the australian GP because I can watch it BEFORE i go to bed! Hey Bernie!!! there are people outside of Europe who also want to watch the races, so how about leaving one or two of the races alone for them?

    1. inc0mmunicado
      26th October 2009, 4:34

      Bernie one day will wake up and think F1 should cater to the American viewers and make European races as twilight/night racing!!!

      Imagine the uproar!

  5. No to twilight races
    No to light bulb races
    No to street races (except Monaco)

    And I’m with you Nik – I’d rather get up early
    Or I could use my DVR

    1. ..and pray some idiot doesn’t spill the results before you watch.

      1. … and that the prog doesn’t overrun and the DVR misses the last few minutes. E.g. Brazil qualifying.

        1. Queue violin music. It’s a tough life. With the DVR you could always set it up so that it records say an extra hour or so, just in case there was a delay. Problem solved.

          1. exactly

  6. I think this is entirely silly and stupid by Ecclestone. Leave the times alone if Europeans for a change get to go up at 7 to watch a race what will that kill them? Being a European living in the States there is only 1 race now that is “convenient” for me now that Ecclestone killed US and Canada races. If he wants times good for European television then why does the stupid man insists on putting more and more races in Asia? There seems MORE interest in F1 in North as well South America then in Asia and TV times would be very convenient for the Europeans. Run the race at 1 or 2 pm and you will have it show on prime time in Europe.. That means good time for 2/3 of the world which I think have 3/4 if not of all F1 supporters…. Ohh well just one other thing that Ecclestone put in his mind. Lets scorn the US and Canada audience after all that is just the most important market for the manufacturers they are not important to F1 we all rather want small independent teams to lead the pinnacle of motorsports.. Ohh well at least Mosley is gone.. Maybe in another 5 years Ecclestone will be gone and things might be put right….

    1. Because he is greedy, shrewd and uncompromising. He likes the idea of Asian sponsorship and revenue deals and realises most of the fan base is European based. He (F1) probably doesn’t pay anything like the money to stage races in Asia compared to Europe or N.America.

  7. “If Ecclestone is that keen to keep European television audiences happy he should re-think his policy if reducing the proportion of races held in Europe”.

    I agree Keith,he should add the French GP,along side Austria & San Marino.Having too many night races will not be good.We are already having two.Twilight races are not good for drivers & spectator as many people only saw 180 km of racing in Malaysia this year.

  8. Dear Bernie. How about we – the Australian F1 fans who shell out the $$$ every year to attend the race – tell YOU when WE’D like it to be run. It’s OUR race, afterall, which we have been running quite sucessfully for many years, without your interference. So until WE tell you we’d like changes to be made, please butt out and go join your buddy S&Max in retirement somewhere.

    1. Well put, Peril. I don’t mind arising early each morning on race weekends (US). It’s just the price you pay to enjoy the best sport in the world. I’m sure most Europeons (except the French)wouldn’t mind it either.

  9. How can they say they want a better time for the european audiences when at the same time kill the brittish gp? I have lived in europe until 2 days ago and I much prefer having thre Oz gp at 7am, it is not too early a start and it still allows you to do something else for the rest of the day, so keep the time as it is.

  10. If Ecclestone is that keen to keep European television audiences happy he should re-think his policy if reducing the proportion of races held in Europe.

    I totally agree. It infuriates me that the races are all geared to the European TV audience. If Bernie really wants to grow grow audiences elseware in the world, then how does he expected to do it with no races at a decent time for them to watch.

    If us Aussie fans are willing to watch the vast majority of GPs at bad times, I am sure that more than a few Europeans would do the same for just a couple of races.

  11. I wouldnt mind a night race in Melb. Sure it makes a loss here, but Im paying tax anyway, so i may as well benefit from something :)

  12. A night race is pretty. But I shudder when I think of the environmental impact. So much for making motorsport green.

  13. I dunno what Bernie is talking about, the Australian GP has always been a night race (US start time was/is like 11pm…)

  14. Disappointing. Every time Formula 1 reschedules a race to accommodate European viewers, the message I’m getting is, “We don’t want Americans to watch F1.” Here in California, I have to get up at 4:30am or (more likely) miss the live broadcast.

  15. Prisoner Monkeys
    26th October 2009, 6:26

    Formula One had traditionally been a European sport.

    While I would have no problems with a night race here in Australia, I think Albert Park provides a bigger problem: how they’re actually going to light it. In both Singapore and Abu Dhabi, the lights are right at the edge of the circuit, but Albert Park has wide run-off areas in places. I suppose you could always have large multi-directional stadium lights like the do on the bottom half of Yas Maina, but there are a lot of trees around Melbourne, and it would be difficult to eliminate unwanted – and potneitallydangerous – shadows.

    1. I wouldn’t mind seeing the cars at Surfers Paradise. The Australian GP could once again be the last race of the season. I just watched the V8 race there, it’s a good track, it’s nice to look at, and it’s about 50m from the beach,

  16. Bernie needs to get over himself. It is after all the Formula 1 world championship, not the Formula 1 European championship.

    Can’t seem to tell, these days. More like the Eastern States championship. Bernie appears to be moving the races out of Europe and into Middle East & Asia.

    And I am sure that the Europeans can endure one late night/early morning for a change, after all, we do it for EVERY Grand Prix other than our own.

    I know the feeling. Here in America EVERY race is at an early hour, and we don’t even have one of our own!

    As always, the only thing that matters to Ecclestone is the almighty dollar. He cares nothing for the racing, or for the fans. Shame, really, he wasn’t always like that.

    As long as he can extract/extort ridiculously high prices from venues outside Europe, this trend will continue. Personally, I think the racing doesn’t need Ecclestone.

  17. A night race in Melbourne would be particularly odd given the race has had 4 day attendances over 300,000 since 1996 (except this year, according to Wikipedia).

    Hey, lets reward the Aussies turning out to watch f1 by making it on a Sunday night so its harder to go along due to work Monday morning!

    Seems silly

  18. Although I think the Singapore GP works as a night race, and Abu Dhabi is due to be a day/night race I wouldn’t like there to be many more night races especially changing established Grand Prix such as Melbourne into a night race.

    I thought the light levels at the end of this years Australian GP were too low and that it should be put back to the old start time.

    Speaking as someone from the UK personally I don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night for a few races, obviously if it was for every race like fans in other parts of the world have to put up with I wouldn’t be so happy and would be more likely to watch the re-run.

    Ecclestone can’t have it both ways, if he wants most races at times to suit European audiences he shouldn’t be reducing the number of races in Europe, but if he wants more races all around the world he should accept that some race start times won’t be ideal for the traditional European audience.

  19. I live in the US and get up early (7am) every F1 Sunday. Don’t think it is a big deal for the European F1 fans to do a few time a year. Having breakfast watching F1 has become a tradition at my house. Bernie is so senile he probably doesn’t know what time it is anyway!

  20. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect every race around the world to be held at a time that best suits European viewers. Particularly in a country where there’s more than enough local interest to support the race.

    If Ecclestone is that keen to keep European television audiences happy he should re-think his policy if reducing the proportion of races held in Europe.

    Hear, hear!

  21. Younger Hamilton
    26th October 2009, 15:26

    Night race would be very Interesting in Australia coz dat would stop complains from drivers dat the light changing coz of the shadows of the trees but wont a Twlight race be interesting as well.Would there be a Problem getting the Lighting System on the Track?

    1. Yep a public investment of somewhere around 20 – 50 million bucks, on an event with shrinking attendance and massive losses each year, would be polliticlly difficult.

      On top of that Albert Park is a public park and there is a small but vocal group who have been against the race since it moved here in 96. If the gov gave in to Bernie and try to install the kind of lighting they would need it would ruin a park that is quite a nice place for 10 months of the year and add huge support to the ‘save albert park’ group.

      I like the park in GP mode, and I like to run around it the rest of the year. If you install lights you can’t take em down after the race is has been run, and that will do damge to the area.

  22. Well for me I dont see the big deal about recording the race and watch it later. Were I live (CA USA) Most of the races start at 430am and I just get up and watch it about 7am.

  23. If Ecclestone is that keen to keep European television audiences happy he should re-think his policy if reducing the proportion of races held in Europe.

    So true it hurts.

    1. Bigbadderboom
      27th October 2009, 17:01

      He wants to have his cake and eat it. He needs the circuit revenue from the glorious benefactors and governments which shell out each year, but he wants the european viewing numbers to push the broadcast rights price up, enabling huge advertising sales. And just to hedge his bets, he tries his hand in emerging markets, just in case they prove more fruitful than any existing ones. His involvment with CVC has seen his role in F1 change from a developer and ringmaster into a leach that sucks on the life blood of our sport.

  24. The last two races lost AUS$40m (£22.59m / $36.85m) each.

    Yikes. If the Brit GP lost that much money then we wouldn’t have one at all.

    If the Aussies are losing that much cash and Bernie is making himself a nuisance (more than usual, I mean) then I wouldn’t blame Melbourne for jacking it in. It’d be a crying shame because they always put on a great race, but let’s face it, with Bernie in charge he is only interested in new GPs where he can charge exorbitant fees — China, Singapore, Abu Dhabi. (Oh hang on, Bigbadderboom has just said that above)

    If we’re going to have a truly global sport where everyone is treated the same, we need Bernie out. Simple as, cobber.

  25. no GB GP because FOMwont give them a break on price to find ther feet at silverstone, and they expect Aus GP to run at night when even using sunlight they lose a fortune. Id rather get up early and watch a full race, without these stupid 2hr limits so they fit into their TV slots, half points in Malaysia, ridiculous.

  26. Honestly, why bother letting us host a f1 if you want to put restraints on it.. do whats right for us and the sport, not whats right for your bank account.

    annoyed aussie!

  27. My thoughts exactly!

    Ho stil remembers waking up at 6 AM to see the F1’s at Suzuka for an amazing race?

    Th audiences and public of the races is actually worst if there isn’t that beautiful nostalgia sorrounding it!

  28. I always enjoyed staying up late for grands prix, to me its a challenge trying not to sleep before the race starts. Sadly, this years Chinese grands prix sent me to sleep after five minutes so it was a complete waste of time.
    Seriously, they should keep the Australian grands prix as it is. Having the Bahrain event as next years opener is a terrible decision! It was bad in 2006 and bad in 2010.

  29. I live in Melbourne and Im so over the grand prix here now. I used to love travelling to Adelaide for the last race of the season, I got into the Melb GP when it was the 1st race of the year, now in 2010 its gonna be race 2 and Eccleston wants it to be a night race, maybe we can save on lighting and just shine the sun out of Bernies rear end!

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