2010 F1 calendar may have 5 night GPs

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Renault, Suzuka, 2005, 470150

If Bernie Ecclestone gets his way (and how often does that not happen?) five Formula 1 Grands Prix will be held under floodlights by 2010 – which by then will probably be a quarter of the calendar.

It’s an ambitious target given that the first F1 night Grand Prix at Singapore hasn’t even been held yet.

Ecclestone has already demanded the Australian Grand Prix organisers hold their race at night and if it doesn’t happen at Albert Park (which is difficult because it is a park and not ordinarily illuminated) it is likely he will take the race somewhere else.

He’s snapped his fingers at Sepang too and the organisers have given him the “yes sir, three bags full sir” response. The 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix will almost certainly be a night race, the circuit owners using the same company as Singapore are to install the flood lights.

Next on the list is Shanghai International Circuit, home of the Chinese Grand Prix. Ecclestone said recently:

We’ll speak to the people in China, see what we can do there. Obviously when we race in South Korea, it will be good to have a night race there too.

The South Korean Grand Prix is due to appear on the Formula 1 calendar for the first time in 2010. Also new that year will be the Indian Grand Prix, another event that Ecclestone would surely want as a night race. As ever, the impetus is to schedule races at the optimum time for F1’s largest audience in Europe. (It should not be necessary for Abu Dhabi, new on the calendar from 2009).

The only obvious Grand Prix I haven’t head connected with holding a night race is Japan. With Honda and Toyota fighting over the right to hold the race at their venues (Suzuka and Fuji respectively) it is surely only a matter of time before one of them offer to install lights.

The whole thing is rather loony in a very Formula 1 kind of way. Fewer races are being held in Europe because no-one wants to pay Ecclestone’s exorbitant prices. So instead the races are held in countries where governments stump up hundreds of millions of dollars not only to build tracks, but to install lighting so the races can be held at night.

No word yet on the gigantic environmental cost of all this. And what happens if there are problems with the lighting used at Singapore? Would floodlights at Sepang be sufficient in the kind of torrential downpour we saw in 2001?

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35 comments on “2010 F1 calendar may have 5 night GPs”

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  1. Couldn’t agree more, that Bernie is a hypocrite.  He demands that more races be held through out the world, challenges races in England and France then demands that these "other" races be held at night to accommodate his primary audience which his and always will be Europe.
     If Europe is truly your base and assuredly it is, then why does he "prefer" races in other countries over European sites. As you point out – THE MONEY.
    It is bad enough that F1 is so political, but that it is controlled by greed is truly disheartening; if all you are concerned about is the sport on the track.

  2. Good question Keith about flood lights in torrential rains – all these places suffer from either monsoons or hurricanes around the time of the races as was the case in Japan and China last year – visibility would be greatly impaired in such circumstances but i guess FOM has already thought of all this – one hopes.

    There is also the valid concern of environmental cost that you raise – it defeats the purpose that come 2009 Mosley will be introducing hybrid drive trains only for Bernie to negate all the related benefits with flood lights. All that is so satirical when one reads Jean the Toad’s comments today about how F1 should be cutting costs? What hypocrisy.

  3. 5 night races is way too unneccessary, even 3 is too much for me. 2 is enough.

    Also, I like the occasion of waking up in the middle of the night to watch cars going round a track, even if I do fall asleep at times (Which in the Australian GP, I didn’t).

    I get the sense that Bernie is beginning to lose his power, and thats why he’s ordering more money for night-racing.

  4. Or maybe even six. Qatar, which just held Moto GP’s first night race, may get a place on the calendar too.

  5. You know… if we had the race at Long Beach again, with a noon start time it would be a 7:00 PM prime-time, start-time in Britain… again way to blow it in America Bernie.

  6. did anyone see the motorbike night race in Qatar on TV ? terrible picture, lot’s of glare, light wall totally separated the empty grandstands from the track, one of the racers even complained that he thought his own shadow is somebody else trying to overtake him …

    why the hobbit Bernie (he called himself that) does not wait how the Singapore race works out before pushing anybody else to spend the millions and millions. Even if the Singapore works well (and I sincerely hope it will) one night race will be more that enough. It is unique because it is one and in the city …

    For example Shanghai I can’t imagine how that would work there. They would not have problem to find the money to light up the track, but that is where their thinking there ends. The race is a mess even during daylight, getting to and from the track is impossible already now. How on Earth would they handle that after dark is beyond me … Bernie never sees that, he flies in and out of the track in a chopper …

    Malaysia – there is this good habit over there for heavens to switch on the rain right after the qualifying or races finish and leave it on overmight. Perhaps the need of some super wet race is the reason behind night race in Sepang … Synchronizing rain and the race :-)

    This is mad… That man has to go …

  7. I think Australia should be kept as is. Waking up in the middle of the night, every March, after 4 months with no action, to see the first GP is a classic. Priceless. I was a little bit disappointed the year it started in Brazil.

  8. To me, all the complaints about F1 being "environmentally friendly" are just a joke… when they’re in the context of a single GP weekend.

    The amount of resources even the most wasteful GP weekend consumes is not even a drop in the bucket.  We should not be concerned with the damage F1 itself is doing to the environment.

    Instead… where our focus should be is on using F1 as a test bed for various environmentally-friendly technologies.  The amount of fuel saved by eliminating the "fuel burn" Q3 sessions is NOTHING compared to the amount of fuel that could be saved by improving the fuel economy of everyone else’s every day vehicles by improving hybrid technology.  If F1 could double MY fuel economy, it would save MORE fuel over the course of the year than is used in all 10 cars in all Q3 sessions at all 18 GP weekends.

    This goes beyond the KERS or hybrid systems though… they should be a testbed for improvements in generator technology (for their large hospitality suites), lighting technology (for their garages), etc.  THAT would have a substantial impact on the enviroment as a whole… AND would make going "green", not only "cool", but possibly even "better" (i.e. F1-style "green" lights would provide better lighting than traditional lights).

  9. My concern is telling the wife that all 18 races will be around midday!

  10. We hear about three main causes for hosting more Grand Prix outside Europe: 1) "Emerging Markets" are eager to pay higher ammounts than European countries usually do; 2) FOM prices effectively were dramatically raised, no matter where the race is, and so some european organizers aren’t interested in paying for a Grand Prix anymore; 3) Formula 1 is leaving Europe to hold races at "Tobacco-friendly" countries.

    My doubt is: which of these factors is the strongest one?

  11. You know what … I quite like the idea of night races. I mean why not? Ignore all the environmental bs for a minute — this is motor racing for goodness sake!

    There are a couple of technical arguments against night races such as rain and glare, but for Singapore at least the organisers claim to have proven solutions (whether that is so remains to be seen I suppose) . NASCAR has run night races for a while now and with a lot of success, although they are not run in rain to be fair.

    The other reason is because "people like getting up in the middle of the night to watch races". Well I don’t. I’d much prefer to watch f1 at a more sociable time … but that’s enough about me. Night sports bring a special atmosphere. There is something quite electric about watching sport under lights open to the elements … think the great football matches, baseball games, whatever. Why not F1?

    So far no-one has put together a convincing argument against night racing ….

  12. I watched the MotoGP race from Quatar. Apart from some nice overhead shots of the lit track surrounded by darkness it didn’t really make any difference at all.Now Singapore being a street race perhaps it will have a bigger impact there, but for Sepang, Shanghai etc. it would just be a big waste of money.

  13. Daniel, in my view the correct choice to your three possible issues would be the first, as Bernie’s demands just keep going up and up and up. Not only do some traditional venues struggle to find the funding, I would imagine they dispise dealing with the hobbit in general these days.
    The real shame of this is that we are talking about the world championship here, and whenever local fans pay good money to come to an F1 race, the event should be centered around them, and should be scheduled with them in mind. Bernie should be much, much more friendly to the European audiences- they are the heart and soul of the sport- and that means not trying to pull out of traditional venues and making unreasonable demands against venues such as Silverstone. The fans in Europe deserve a first-class racing experience, but don’t do it at the expense of fans in other nations. After all, most of us don’t seem to mind staying up late or waking up early for a few races a year.

    Sorry to go on a rant here, but the destructive politics practiced by Bernie are destroying the traditional fan bases in Europe, and the sport is moving towards a show that is simply sold to the highest bidder. His price demands have ensured that I won’t be able to attend a GP in my nation until at least 2009, and I fear more of the same misfortune may be heaped on fans in other nations as well.

  14. Bernie wants to be the richest man in Britain, so all the ad revenue from Euro audiences will make him filthier richer – filthy being the key word here. Nighttime F1 racing is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. F1 is a daytime spectacle. Would you want to try to watch an F1 race in the dark at the track? It’s an insult to spectators at the event. Bernie is senile, and needs to let F1 go. How many times has he sold it and still retained ownership?!?!? As an early English king once said, "Will no one rid me of this evil priest?"

  15. Sorry about this Dan but I’m a history geek… Henry II actually said (of Thomas Becket), "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished who allow their lord to be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

    I don’t think night racing itself is a bad idea – the night time oval races in American look awesome, especially when the sparks start flying (note to Max Mosley – make everyone use titanium skid plates). I just worry that they’re rushing into it when it’s not been given much testing yet beyond a short session at Indianapolis last year.

  16. Thanks, Gman!

    I can understand what you say… my home nation (Brazil) is perhaps the most traditional, outside Europe, in Formula 1, hosting a Grand Prix since 1973, having three world champions with eight titles among them, and three other race winners, with more than 90 Grand Prix to their names… our fan base is also very very strong, even with the bang of Senna’s death…

    With all of this, Brazilian Grand Prix was under threat in the past, and the ticket prices are too high to our average salaries… the cheapest grandstand costs almost US$ 200,00 for qualifying and race day, while the worker’s average monthly earnings in Brazil is US$ 600,00!

  17. I have always struggled to accept the rational between the enviroment and F1 and when it comes to night racing being expanded before the first experiment?? – has taken place!! – the man is just driven by money – maybe it’s some sort of trade off for his ego?(freud explains it better)
    Racing can not be eco friendly unless it is using wind/solar power – I know that you can see some racing vehicles race at night – smaller tracks with left corners? – sorry I enjoy time differences – it keeps the world big and you can enjoy an early snack/liquid refreshment and watch the best teams try their best to beat one another.

  18. Bernie really wants his cake, and to be able to eat it too, doesn’t he?
    Greedy little man.

    I think he should wait and see how the first night race goes before planning more. He will look pretty silly if something goes wrong.

  19. These comments have pretty much taken the words right out of my mouth! At this rate, Bernie won’t be happy until the entire calendar consists of night races in Asia. It wouldn’t be the World Championship any more, that’s for sure! I saw the night race in Qatar for Moto GP, and I found it a bit weird. Maybe I’m just too used to daytime races, but I didn’t find it any more exciting.

  20. But if the car manufacturer’s want to be in "Major markets" who in those major markets will be coming to the races? Regardless of the TV ratings the sport became popular (and I believe still is) due to the thrill of GOING TO THE TRACKS!

    With the new owners losing money (or barely breaking even) this is undoubtedly a cash grab to escalate ad rates in TV European markets.

    Regardless of all that the inherent dangers of rain in the night and lousy lighting and high speeds is potentially appalling. They may get away with it this year (incident free) but the odds are very low if we have five such events in the future.

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