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.
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.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
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.
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.
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
A RaceFans account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed instead of the voting form.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
Debates and polls
- Do Andretti-Cadillac deserve a place on the Formula 1 grid?
- Has Sargeant proved he deserves another season in Formula 1?
- Should the F1 world championship be decided by a 19-lap sprint race?
- Who should Red Bull run in their second F1 team in 2024?
- Should F1 switch to a single practice session for all grand prix weekends?