‘On one run I literally couldn’t see’: Low light taxes drivers in late end to qualifying

2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Visibility became a significant problem for Formula 1 drivers in the closing stages of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix after a series of disruptions.

Qualifying was red-flagged twice, first for a collision involving Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi in Q1, and again when Fernando Alonso crashed in Q3. The start of Q2 was delayed after Alex Albon was told to stop his Williams on circuit at the end of the opening phase.

Therefore qualifying, which was scheduled to end at 5pm local time, continued until after 5:30pm, around half an hour before sunset.

As a result, several drivers complained visibility became very poor as light levels dropped.

“There was one run that we literally couldn’t see,” said Daniel Ricciardo.”There was like four corners I could not find the apex.”

He admitted he was sat in his car for so long at one stage he began to feel tired. “It was interesting. You’re sitting in the car for so long, still, in the garage, you start to just get a little bit, even tired just from doing nothing.

“The red flags obviously I would prefer not to have them but fortunately I think everyone that had a crash is okay so that’s the main thing.”

Charles Leclerc was heard asking to be given the darkest visor available to avoid being blinded by the occasional strong bursts of light.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“I took a lot of risk there because I had no idea where was the limit of the track,” he said afterwards. “You are just guessing a little bit, just with the rhythm of the weekend you know more-or-less that you need to turn here.

“But I really had zero idea where was the limit of the track, and it was very tricky.”

Leclerc said his darkest visor still wasn’t dim enough for the conditions. “We went for a darker visor, I think the first run in Q3, there was some clouds around, so that was perfect.

“Then for the last run in Q3, braking for turn one was still very, very bad. But I don’t think we can do anything. Even with the darkest visor, it’s still not enough. And it will be too dark for the rest of the track where there are the clouds.

“So it’s just a compromise that we had to find. It’s the same for everyone in the end, but it was definitely extremely tricky. In the last sector also on the last Q3 lap I lost a little bit, just because it was very difficult to see where I was.”

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2022 Australian Grand Prix

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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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10 comments on “‘On one run I literally couldn’t see’: Low light taxes drivers in late end to qualifying”

  1. Daylight races start at least 3 hours before sunset, & while qualifyings mostly last less, perhaps starting 2+ hours (1h27min in Suzuka) beforehand should get stopped since, unlike FPs, QLF ending time is unfixed.
    I already made a similar about Baku’s 2019 & Istanbul Park’s 2020 equivalent sessions.
    People seemingly never learn, which should definitely be the case at least with Suzuka, given how many QLFs have got delayed & or postponed for weather conditions.

  2. And FIA talk and talks about safety, they did much concerning car safety, but they have been neglecting tracks and here once again they are playing with fire .

    1. All this talk about Masi and an improved race direction. These first 3 races have been a total disaster. Inconsistencies, bad penalties, inane decisions and last minute changes.
      I’m not going to lie, I’d rather have qualifying at 3 or 4 am on a friday, especially as I like to watch FP but I also don’t watching under low suw light condition, though above all else, the delays meant drivers couldn’t see and further delays could have meant that nobody could see

      1. Both can be bad. If something is bad today it do not necessarily absolves the past.

  3. 4th try at comment:
    When I watch Q3 in car footage – definitely looks dangerous to me. If there had been a stopped car or someone on the track there’s no chance to see them late in the lap.
    The sun angle is predictable, due to physics. Get it together F1/FIA/stewards, please.

  4. The helmet makes it worse, by creating a darker periphery, and also any tearoffs. And aren’t the visors anti diffractive? Anyway a tinted one reduces contrast, no wonder they couldn’t see with one!

  5. If they stopped trying to shoehorn Australia’s schedule to fit European TV slots this wouldn’t be an issue…

  6. The drivers had a lot of sympathy from me as I watched qualifying on our Channel 10 Melbourne) free-to-air broadcast. There was so much ‘padding’ with repeats of interviews from previous days and stupid interviews with various ‘stars’ from programmes shown on Channel 10, for the unfortunate viewer the commencement of qualifying could easily have started an hour earlier. I have no idea what was actually happening at Albert Park during all of the very poor quality commercial breaks and the endless padding.

    Before qualifying started, and going on the number of red flag incidents during free practice, I did wonder how many delays there would be during the three stages of qualifying. Stroll and Latifi carried out a perfect example of why they should not have been here at all. My condolences to the crews at Aston Martin and Williams, having so much extra work to do on a busy day.

    The main highlight for me has been Vettel’s ride back to the team garage, well done Seb!!

    The race starts at 3:00 pm local time, so, hopefully, red flags aside it well finish at a reasonable time for good light conditions. The broadcast starts at 10:00 am local time, my switch on TV time will be at about 2:50 pm.

  7. I was there yesterday and it was even a bit hard to see as a spectator when the sun pierced through the clouds as it set, particularly at the corner I was at so I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for the drivers.

    I made this point to a friend before the weekend but if F1 want to run this race so European audiences can watch it live, (a bit of bias here) but it needs to be the first race of the season to be held during daylight savings. There is no room for error with this late start and no consideration for bad weather which could also play a part… rain, dark clouds at around 5.30 would be pretty dark and just as bad!

  8. Qualifying needs to be at 3pm local time no later

    Race starts at 2pm local time no later no matter what country you are in its 2022, watch the replay if you cant wake up in time

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