Should Formula 1 have fewer night races?

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Next weekend, Formula 1’s summer break comes to an end at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort – the first of a ten round second leg of the season.

But of those ten rounds almost half of them – four – will take place under the lights at night time. The Singapore, Qatar, Las Vegas and season-ending Abu Dhabi grands prix will all be taking place at night over the final phase of the season.

Night races are by no means uncommon in modern Formula 1. Singapore introduced night racing into the sport with its inaugural race in 2008, but it was quickly joined by Abu Dhabi with its first race the following season with all races at Yas Marina starting as the sun sets and finishing under a night sky.

As the sport continued to expand into nations in the Middle East, night races were a convenient means of allowing grands prix held in the region to maintain a traditional early-afternoon start time for the crucial European viewing audience. Even the Bahrain Grand Prix, held in the afternoon for its first nine races, converted to a night race for 2014 by installing floodlights around its 5.4km course.

There has even been suggestions that the Australian Grand Prix – currently held as a twilight race in the late-afternoon – could eventually convert to a night race in the same manner that Bahrain has. But is Formula 1 becoming oversaturated with night races – or should there even be more on the calendar?


For a sport that is supposedly so concerned about environmental sustainability, it seems completely backwards that F1 is happy to choose illuminating miles of racetrack with artificial light, and the energy required to do so, over the free natural light provided by the sun.

There’s also the fact that cooler conditions when the sun sets means that the natural challenge of racing in warmer climates is neutralised. As an international sport, surely the best drivers and teams in the world should be willing to face the environmental challenges of racing across the world?


As mentioned, one of the main benefits of night racing is it allows for races across the world to be held at convenient times for European-based TV viewers – traditionally F1’s core audience. So many morning alarm calls have been saved by moving races across Asia and the Middle East to night races.

There is also the spectacle. Who would argue that the Singapore skyline does not look especially stunning at night time? It also allows for races in especially hot and humid climates to take place in lower temperatures, which reduces the additional strain on cars and power units as well as the physical toll on drivers.

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I say

Even though Formula 1 continues to make progress in finding ways to become more environmentally sustainable and increasingly rely on energy generated from renewable sources, having so many night races does seem to go against that. It could also be argued that European viewers shouldn’t be treated as a special entity for what is supposedly a world championship – especially as fans across Asia, North and South America are used to dealing with races being on at unsociable times. But the economic reality means that night races are likely to stay as they make too much financial sense.

The Qatar Grand Prix will be held at night again
Photographers may hate artificial lighting conditions due to how muted and flat cars look in night conditions, but it’s also true that night races do add a different aesthetic that provides some welcome variety to the championship. If every grand prix took place at the same time of day, a lot of the individuality of the more than 20 rounds would be lost.

For a race like Las Vegas – world famous for its glitzy nightlife – it’s obvious that a lot of the appeal of that race would be lost if it was held in the afternoon. And the Losail circuit in Qatar would look especially unremarkable in the day time given its lack of landmarks and features around the circuit.

Six night races in a season of 22 rounds feels like a good proportion. Enough to add some variety to the championship, but not too many to lose its appeal.

You say

Do you agree that Formula 1 should run fewer races held at night?

  • No opinion (5%)
  • Strongly disagree (22%)
  • Slightly disagree (12%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (24%)
  • Slightly agree (18%)
  • Strongly agree (20%)

Total Voters: 129

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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49 comments on “Should Formula 1 have fewer night races?”

  1. The for/against arguments in the article assess night races as such (and they’re all valid), whereas the question in the article title is about the number of such races on the calendar, and those are 2 different things.

    I don’t enjoy night races as much as day races, the nightly environment and artificial light make them seem dull visually. Thus, I’d preper having fewer of them. Preferably, just one.
    So yeah, if the conclusion from this is that we can’t have that many GPs in deserty places characetrized by scorching hot and dry climate, then that’s what it is.

  2. No opinion… I literally could care less… except maybe, I actually like setting my alarm for an early race, so for me, that reason should be in the ‘for’ category

    1. @the-edge sorry for being grammar police, but it’s “couldn’t”. When you “could care less”, you care.

      1. Yes thanks, I had realised my typo, but there is no edit option. Pleased you figured out what I meant though

      2. @losd despite the poster agreeing with your correction, and the by the strictest grammatical standards this being true, it is not true to say “

        When you “could care less”, you care

        “. It may represent the literal interpretation, but given that “could care less” is indeed a widely used alternate/substitute for “couldn’t care less” (not that personally like the usage), then the meaning of the common usage would override the literal.

        In short, in informal terms the original text is fine, despite not being the contributor’s original intention.

    2. I too voted using the No Opinion option. It helps F1 if it can arrange the various Grands prix sessions to start about the same time of day, so this is a good thing. The lights used are, or should be, high efficiency LED type lamps. Yes, you would still use a lot of electricity lighting up several square kilometres of ground, but it would be much less than if they used the older technology lights. I’m not sure what sort of redundancy arrangement F1 uses at the night races, e.g. having separate sources of power for each side of the track, but that could easily add to the energy used.
      No one has mentioned the energy savings from using less air conditioning compared to if the sessions were held in the day time.

  3. They could spice things up by randomly turning the lights off and on again.

    1. One word: headlights. Works for WEC.

      1. F1 cars should all be fitted with running lights regardless of whether or not the race is held in the daytime or night time. We are told some of the mirrors vibrate wildly, so it is extremely difficult to see the cars behind. Running lights would enable the cars behind a driver to be more easily seen. There’d also be benefits when the track has become wet and the cars produce a lot of spray.

  4. I’m fairly happy with the number we have at the moment. Night events at existing tracks Abu Dhabi and Bahrain certainly improved the spectacle and Singapore is dependent on the darkness I feel.

    Given that I spent about 75% of my free time either reading, thinking, watching or racing F1 online in some capacity i feel the number of races is now too many to commit to watching 3 days including support races live. To that end, I’d like the main European tracks to adopt night events to move some of the onus away from Saturday and Sunday prime afternoon where it competes with my social life but also other sports. It would benefit the sport to move to later European race times to suit American audiences as that is clearly the new market.

    That said I fear sometimes night races mean street races and I’ve had enough of them now too. Permanent facilities with night races – Spa I think would be incredible, Barcelona and Ricard would be improved too possibly given what happened to Bahrain.

    Of course there would be a number of factors, positively and negatively, to implement these changes but if F1 is going to do anything with its new found billions I’d like it to go into making the calendar a bit more socially timed for everyone around the world.

  5. I’m neither for or against but I do think that night races have sort of lost there charm a bit now that there are a few of them.

    Singapore always felt that little bit more special the first few years when it was the only one & then Abu Dhabi felt that little bit different again because it started in the day & they raced into the night.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      20th August 2023, 13:16

      I was of the opinion that there should be only one night race in Singapore as well for the same reason

      Now there are quite a few including the new race in Paradise and its less special now. When I was F1 mad I loved getting up early to watch qualifying and the race, it was part of the experience somehow but now that’s lessened with the later starts

    2. night races in the rain …

  6. I’m not an Eco-Freak or anything, but I just wonder how much power is used to light the racetrack, stands, pits etc during a night race.

    They are making a big thing of removing tyre warmers to help save the world, but surely the serious lighting required to illuminate the track for two or more hours must use a hell of a lot of power.

    1. I have no idea what the math actually works out to, but I’d be willing to wager the time you could run the entire fields’ tire warmers for with the electricity required for a single night race would be measured in years (seasons).

    2. Never mind the electricity to light up the track for a handful of hours on one weekend each year – you should be way more concerned about the hundreds of tons of freight F1 are flying and shipping all around the world constantly, much of it having absolutely nothing to do with the cars.

      And removing tyre warmers would help save the on-track product more than the world, anyway.

      1. you should be way more concerned about the hundreds of tons of freight F1 are flying and shipping all around the world

        I always have been S – I always have been :(

  7. Coventry Climax
    20th August 2023, 13:25

    I consider myself to be (or maybe ‘have been’) a hardcore fan. I was never bothered by getting up at 4 in the morning to watch the Japanes grand prix. It added to the atmosphere, as it was therefor some sort of ‘night race’ too, it was quiet, and I still had the rest of the weekend to do other things I care about.
    So nightraces came to be to please the hardcore fan? Not too sure about it.
    And what about the broadcast times for countries that are not on the other side of the world? That audience, supposedly larger than hardcore level, is presented with rather awkward times now. How favourable is that, if you want to promote yourself there?
    I know, there’s a huge percentage of tourists going to the most exotic places that still expect to be able to order a hamburger in the evening. I’ve always (like plenty others I like to think) preferred to sample the local flavour. That’s what I’m there for in the first place.
    If the amount of money brought in defines which group is the better fan, then fly in the cattle for their evening meals. Given the current environment situation however, I don’t think that’s either wise, a good example, nor a story you can sell to others.
    I think there’s an aspect of responsability involved here.

  8. I chose option three, fewer races period.

    1. And you can have it! All you need to do is switch your TV to another channel on the weekend.

      Turns out F1 really can satisfy everyone in that aspect after all.

      1. Yeah well, not watching it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I think Liberty is over-saturating the market and the glamour will fade with the viewers.

        1. I think the objective lack of quality of the F1 competition turns far more viewers away than an entirely subjective over-supply.

          Besides, the demand is there – as a business with the means to expand, they’d be crazy not to take advantage of it.
          F1 won’t reduce the number of events they hold until doing so is the most sensible option – or absolutely necessary.

          1. Agree, for example I get bored in periods such as this break inbetween races, or even just when there’s 2 weeks between 2 races, what is making it boring for me is the domination, not the many races; sometimes they can take too much time away in the moments where you have several consecutive races, but it’s ok if the season is competitive.

  9. No, & I’m surprised such a poll even came in the first place.
    I don’t find the current amount of floodlit races excessive & I doubt the Australian GP would ever join them as that didn’t happen in the distant past despite already being under consideration at the time.
    Besides, that GP isn’t even a Twilight race by definition because the race takes place in roughly mid-afternoon, starting about three hours before the sunset, so far from such background as is the case with the Abu Dhabi GP & some other sessions across different floodlit circuits over time.

    1. Sunset time klaxon!

    2. @jerejj

      I’m surprised such a poll even came in the first place.

      Perhaps… but then again wouldn’t the vote distribution (at the time of writing) suggest that it was a question worth asking?

  10. Formula 1 races start at 1PM local time. Full stop.*

    I’m in NA (EST), so most of the races are at 8AM-ish (GMT-) and 1AM+ (Pacific Rim). I’m more than fine with adjusting my viewing schedule (as I have since I started watching the races that were televised tape delayed OTA between Stewart and Fittipaldi). I actually like the Euro rounds starting at 8AM here. Up at 6:30 (as I am, anyway) brew some java, watch the pre-race/race/post-race, then have the rest of the day to do stuff. That said, the impression I get with most of the recent changes is that they’ve been made to cater to “fans” with the attention span of a Tardigrade.

    * the only exception would be Las Vegas. If you’re having a race in a plastic, artificial city, might as well go all in and have it in an artificial setting under artificial lighting.

  11. I think night races are fine. Especially if that causes the viewing time across the world to be constant.

    Most sports thrive on having a start time convenient for the core TV viewing audience. Look how Qatar World Cup was scheduled in the night so that both European and South American audience could see it. Look how cricket plays day night matches in India, day matches in England and early morning matches in West indies to take advantage of the core India audience.

    For a global sport, having a consistent start time across all the main time zones is good. Currently F1 with its 1400-1500 hrs in Europe and evening in India, night in China, East Asia is doing just fine.

  12. And one more thing about Vegas. $2,000 USD/person to sit in a bar on the strip and watch the race on one of their 75″ TVs?



  13. I’m not really bothered.

    I read a comment further up the page about not appreciating the visual spectacle of a night race as much as a daytime one, and now I think about it I probably agree. F1 cars do look better under natural light. But as long as the circuits are the right ones, I could probably live with the races being held at whatever time.

  14. The ‘night races’ aren’t that special when they flood the entire venue in light. It kinda becomes a non-factor. But the sunset-races are a nice twist on the concept, at least visually for the audience. I think Abu Dhabi is the only one?

    Who would argue that the Singapore skyline does not look especially stunning at night time?

    If you like late 20th century skyscrapers that look pretty much identical the world over, I guess. It’s easy to mock the silliness of the Abu Dhabi hotel-chicane, but at least it’s distinctive. Singapore has unfortunately done very little to incorporate the city into the track.

  15. What a hypocrisy holding night races and promoting “environmentally friendly” approaches.

    It was a curiosity back in 2008 with the first ever night race. I’d also say racing in sunset is also an interesting addition. They could add a third, racing in sunrise race at the start of the season.
    Other than these, racing under the lights is pointless and a waste of resources, waste of money (to build the infrastructure).

    I don’t get the increasing number of night races. Makes me feel like this is a plastic series.

  16. It also allows for races in especially hot and humid climates to take place in lower temperatures

    Early morning races are a better solution to the heat. Early morning is the coolest period of a day.

  17. Coventry Climax
    20th August 2023, 15:53

    I’d be more okay with it if the circuits weren’t lit to the degree that it doesn’t really makes much difference.
    Have the cars fit with lights, instead of the track, that would add to the atmosphere!
    And be truly road relevant.

  18. Cars look really cool under the artificial lights. Other than that…

    Maybe you will tell me that sustainable F1 was an oxymoron to start with. Maybe you will tell me that the energy needed for lighting a F1 week-end is negligible in regard of the overall F1 carbon imprint. Well, even if that was the case, night races send all the wrong messages. In any case, we are wasting I don’t know how many terajoules for what ? So that people in rich countries don’t have to watch a race at an inconvenient time, or even worse, watch it in replay mode ?

    I am afraid it is not much more than a question of doing the right thing against doing the financially optimal thing. A very common dilemma if you ask me.

  19. Personally, I love night races. The cars looks great under the lights and you more glowing brakes and sparks. I also like how they usually start 11pm Saturday through 3am on Sunday. I love watching the races in the middle of the night and also having my Sunday completely clear.

  20. Night race was a nice novelty for Singapore, but even that has wore off now that all we have Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi + Las Vegas. And frankly, they just blur together. It’s just darkness and some random city light in the background. There should be at least some variety. If every other year the race is held in night and every other year in daylight, it feels like a new fresh event each year, especially in countries where there’s no variety in weather conditions.

  21. For me the most obnoxious time is the American race time, thus instead of doing night race to appeal those in Europe, they should try to do morning race in America. It isn’t that I’m against race being run at 2AM/3AM4/AM, but more because those races, since it is being done at Sunday in America, it means Monday in Asia. I can stay up until the morning to watch the races, but obviously it will affect my Monday at the office and for me personally this is what they need to do, as in earlier race in America. A good race time is the time when I can watch it. Night race is okay, just don’t do it in America since I most certainly can’t watch it unless it is being run on Saturday American time instead of Sunday.
    Again, I’m not against race ended up at 12AM to 12PM at my time zone, as long as it is either on Saturday or Sunday.

  22. I think the article could have been better for some numbers. According to the-race, 600 LED floodlight clusters (for Formula E) at 1.5kW mean about 1 MW, so that could be say 10MWH over the weekend. On the lights.

    If we convert to CO2 at the UK rate of 265gm/kWh, that means 2.65 tonnes of CO2, per night weekend lights.

    Context? According to In 2021, for F1 DHL moved 1,540 tons of equipment and 532 cars more than 74,500 miles. That’s 120,000 km. says air freight is about 432gm/tonne-km. If I haven’t missed too many decimal points that’s…

    79,833,600 tonnes of CO2 on F1 freight. Add or subtract 26.5 from that, 10 night races, doesn’t make no never mind does it! Of course the order of half that is by road, but disproportionately the night races are flyaway. Anyway, the lights are visible but irrelevant, energy and climate wise. And so, surely, are tyre blankets.

  23. Monaco should be a night race.

    1. Monaco should be a non-race.

      1. I think they over ruled us on that. :)

  24. Voted neither agree or disagree. It’s not a major issue I think. Maybe there is enough now but not too many. But I don’t worry about it that much.

  25. I think four night races is good enough.
    qatar and saudi races would be much better
    during the day. Vegas definitely at night.

  26. Couldn’t care less either way.
    I’ll watch the 16 – 19 races live that fit my schedule, skipping the obvious nothing-ones ( that seem to get mega-decade extensions for reasons that I cannot comprehend) and watch something else race…or not.

    1. If they’re boring and they get massive extensions, it’s probably a matter of money, we have plenty of middle-east races now and some, like abu dhabi, are consistently boring.

  27. I like the night races and they make sense for places that are extremely hot during the day. Middle East, Las Vegas and Singapore make sense. As for the number of them, maybe we could do with one or two less races in the middle east. I like Jeddah and Bahrain but the current Qatar track I’m not fussed and Abu Dhabi has issues even though theyve tried to fix it.

  28. Night race should be only one: Singapore

  29. I quite like the night races. Not sure that we need any more but Singapore/Bahrain/Qatar are fine.
    As for Las Vegas – it remains to be seen so I’ll reserve judgement on that.

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