Start, Albert Park, 2022

Making Melbourne a night race “could be attractive”

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In the round-up: Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is open to the idea of converting the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park into a night race.

In brief

Making Melbourne a night race “could be attractive” – Domenicali

The Australian round of the championship has always been held at one of the most inconvenient times for television viewers in Europe, with have traditionally made up the bulk of audiences. The start time for the race is 3pm local time, which is 6am in Britain and 1am Eastern Time in the USA.

Speaking at a SportNXT conference on Wednesday, Domenicali said he would be open to the idea of moving the race to a night race to make the start time more Europe-friendly. “We’ve discussed about it. Why not?,” Domenicali was quoted as saying by The Age. “It’s a matter of investment.

“It could be attractive. When you’re planning for so long, you can really think what is the best to create new products. You never know. It would be important to understand the implications.”

However, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott – who will step down after this year’s event – believes the current race time suits the city. “Because of the attractiveness that each single city provides and contributes to the championship, Melbourne’s place as an afternoon race on a Sunday works beautifully,” he said. “But you never say never in Formula 1.”

Gasly unsure whether fourth DRS zone will aid passing

Alpine driver Pierre Gasly says the addition of a fourth DRS zone for this year’s Australian Grand Prix could be a positive for the circuit where overtaking is relatively difficult.

A fourth zone was added last year along the lengthened Lakeside Drive straight up to the turns nine and ten chicane but was removed before the race due to safety concerns. The zone has been reinstated for this weekend.

“I think it’s going to be interesting,” said Gasly. “We know obviously that Melbourne is usually a very difficult track to overtake, so if you can increase the overtaking opportunities, increase the racing, make it slightly more entertaining and a bit more racier on that track, I think that’s definitely positive. But it’s not guaranteed. We’ll see in practice what we get.”

Piastri reveals turn as Kvyat’s ‘grid kid’

Oscar Piastri has revealed he held the Russian flag for Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat before the 2015 Australian Grand Prix as part of the grid kid programme.

“I was here last year as a reserve driver, and I was here, I think, 2015,” he said. “I was a grid kid, actually for Daniil Kvyat, so I was holding Daniil Kvyat’s flag, and he broke down on the lap-to-grid, so I never actually got to see him. But it’s pretty special to have someone holding my flag this time but hopefully I have better luck.”

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Comment of the day

With the FIA reminding teams that celebrating on the pit wall fencing is technically prohibited, @jerejj is bemused how teams have been doing so for years without any issues…

Since a rule against fence climbing has existed since 2006, the FIA should’ve started enforcing this rule from day one rather than only now.

People should generally do something about things sooner rather than later, as doing something later minimizes the argument’s validity.

Besides, no one has ever ended up in danger over this long-time tradition of celebrating mechanics & or other team members climbing on pit wall fences, so again, FIA unnecessarily clamps down something trivial & or generally safe.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Yuri Kofman and Shortstick1!

On this day in motorsport

  • Born on this day in 1956: Kevin Cogan, a winner in IndyCar racing who made two unsuccessful attempts to qualify in F1 with RAM and Tyrrell in the early eighties

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Will Wood
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  • 19 comments on “Making Melbourne a night race “could be attractive””

    1. A night race – not an option!

      Leave Formula One alone, it has sunk far enough!

      1. Quite a few people in Melbourne F1 management and Victorian government are in support of the idea.
        Nothing wrong with it. Day race or night race makes no difference, so why not?

        1. @S Wrong based on past attempts that failed because organizers were against the idea.

          1. You think I made that up, do you @jerejj?
            Melbourne Grand Prix Corporation is made up of many individuals, as is the (ever revolving) Victorian Government.
            Just yesterday, in fact, I saw a TV news article showing an interview with one of the local lead organisers saying exactly what I commented above – that they are looking keenly at moving to a night race format.

          2. One concern is that is very common some rain at the track a few hours are the current reca time.
            So, a night race would be commonly a wet – redflag filled – race.

      2. As someone who loves in Melbourne I also hate the idea of a night race here. European audiences can deal with the race being on at a bad time for once, since we only get this race, Japan and Azerbaijan on at a reasonable time in Australia. Also it’s nice to enjoy racing during the day at the track and be able to go out in the city in the evening.

        1. @RatSack Don’t forget the LV GP (& Chinese GP when that happens).
          Your point about Europeans is valid, although less unideal further east.

    2. NO! Why should every races need to be at convenience time for Europe and US viewers?

    3. That proposal was already on the table a while back & rejected by the organizers, so I doubt their tone would change.
      Besides, I like morning races.

      The fourth zone is unlikely to improve passing into the high-speed combination that’s never been an overtaking place.

      Another COTD nomination.

    4. Most night races on the calendar suck.

      Pretty much all the middle eastern races would be better if they were run 12 pm midday in the heat.

      Singapore would be more interesting as it would be more likely to be wet and may warrant the return of monsoon tires if Sepang was also re-added to make it more justifable along with Spa, Suzuka and sometimes Melbourne, Monaco, Canada and Silverstone.

    5. I have to agree with Ben Evans, I’ve heard nothing of the W Series since they said they were looking to secure funding? (unless I’ve missed something)

      Obviously it seems to have gone, but either nobody involved wants to talk, or nobody cares / wants to listen. Considering all the bells, whistles, words, opinions and fireworks about an all female series at it’s launch to just slip away and nobody notice just a couple of years later, seems a bit sad to be honest.

    6. A night race makes the even not very family friendly, leaving the track takes over an hour then getting on public transport home adds another 40min or more. If the race is held in it current time of year the race would need to start at as it stays light well into the evening so 8pm or later, giving a 10pm finish, tired kids getting home at midnight, all so Europeans can sit in their lounge during daylight hours. Awesome!

      1. @theoddkiwi With this weekend’s race day sunset time of 18:12, starting at 19:00 or even 18:00 would be enough.
        Darkness doesn’t arrive at Melbourne’s latitudes as quickly as in the Gulf/Arabian Peninsula region or Southeast Asia, but quickly enough for darkness to arrive during the race, especially with the 19:00 option.
        20:00 with pre-clock change sunset times.

      2. It only needs to be 2 hours later, and it’ll be starting just about on sunset……
        Hardly suddenly “not family friendy.”

        Who cares if there’s still a bit of light in the sky? The circuit lights would be most prominent shortly after race start, just as with other twilight races.

        You might not have considered this – but many Aussies work weekends, and wouldn’t be the slightest bit upset if it started a couple of hours later. That would move it perfectly into prime time, actually…

      3. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
        31st March 2023, 12:05

        Since the days when the Australian GP was the first race of the season I’ve looked forward to waking up at 4 or 5 on a Sunday. It was actually an event for me, after months of waiting for a new season. And today still, the early morning AUS GP is for me mentally the real start of the season. And it’s very agreeable to wake up early for me, and finish the race before the wife and kid wake up. So no, we Europeans don’t need a night race in Melbourne. And to all aussie F1 fans, if you really have to watch most races on a Monday morning, you are better people than me for staying F1 fans, I’d have let it go long ago.

    7. Oh poor darlings, one race on at 6am, boohoo. Try most of them on at crap times for us here (in Australia), like for example on Monday very early morning – it sucks.

    8. I’ve got friends in Melbourne that aren’t really F1 fans and I’m fairly sure hearing the noise from the cars late into the night won’t exactly convert them either. I don’t think a night race would show off the city as well as a daytime one either so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

    9. Meanwhile us Australians have a total of maybe 3 races per season which could be considered convenient. Still, we get through it! I was amazed how many people were at the circuit today. It almost felt like a race day. I can’t help but feel F1 has done a great job of attracting families. Anecdotally, there seem to be more women and children attending the track. I feel like this may be undone by running the race at night. I had a great time today with my 4 year old. No chance I’d consider taking her for a night session. For that matter, I don’t think I’d be particularly keen either. Catching trains home late at night with the usual city drunks? No thank you…

      1. You make a great point, but F1 doesn’t care about you or your kid or common sense or decency. It only cares about money, and your money is worth less than pay-per-view Europeans. When the on site attendences then go down, it is a good reason to drop the Australian GP altogether in 2027, because it is surely ‘past its peak’ and was, to be fair, also a bit inconveniently far away for F1’s sustainability quest.

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