2010 F1 calendar may have 5 night GPs

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

  1. Daniel said on 26th March 2008, 21:15

    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!

  2. 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.

  3. Pink Peril said on 26th March 2008, 22:38

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Well I  was going to sum up a few points made, but GeorgeK  pretty much did it for me.

    The people that Bernie sold out to are on the phone saying "this isn’t what you promised. Go make it more profitable." so he ups the rates of new venues, dumps the ones that can’t pay any longer, and maximizes European audiences by running races at night elsewhere. And stuff the traditional fans.

  7. Gman said on 27th March 2008, 0:27

    Daniel, you will be pleased to know that I was thinking about Brazil’s wealth of F1 history in the back of my mind while I was typing my earlier reply- I just thought it best to focus on Europe at that moment. It is sad to hear of your GP being under threat in the past and of the high ticket prices. Since i’ve yet to attend my first GP, i’m not sure how much of the price is set by the venue and how much by the F1 brass- perhaps someone who has attended some races, such as Keith or Milos, can provide some insight on that.

    I do agree with Keith that the concept of night races is not a bad idea, and see firsthand that the NASCAR races held at night are no less popular than the daytime events. I think the problem most of us have with it is that the concept is being used as a tool to get the biggest profits possible my moving races away from fans in Europe, then milk that audience for advertising dollars so the profit will still be there. All in all, it’s a very, very distasteful way of doing business.

  8. William Wilgus said on 27th March 2008, 2:50

    If night races were so great, there wouldn’t be any day races.

  9. what gonna happen to visibility??
    if F1 happens in India in 2010 and thats in monsoon, driver’s won’t be able to see the next 10 metres..

  10. Nathan said on 27th March 2008, 6:18

    fantastic! i am from melb and all of the races will b at night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    bernie really doesnt give 2 ***** about anyone else outside europe!
    y not have all of the races in europe so they can all actually goto a race instead of taking them away!
    i hate that little runt!

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th March 2008, 9:39

    Might night races actually be better for local audiences in some countries? We all know how hot it is during the Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix – perhaps the spectators would rather watch the race at night when it’s cooler and more comfortable to be outside?

  12. oliver said on 27th March 2008, 10:39

    Bernie and Max are doing all they can to make F1 not viable  economically. Very soon there will be lawsuits and it will all grind to a halt.

  13. I think they should revert to the mainly European calendar and bring tracks like A1, Magny-Cours and San Marino back, that is where the main audience is….its like the Premiership looking to play matches across the world, to increase revenue….but how pleased were the fans to hear that? Hmmm

    The rest of the world should squabble over the remaining few races, and leave the good European ones alone!

  14. Gman said on 27th March 2008, 22:49

    KB, I think your basic feeling is to make sure the European races are protected from Bernie’s hatchet. I agree with that, although I believe the A1 ring was slated for demolition the last time I checked. As for your thought on the remaining few races, I think F1 should look to expand into new markets, as should any good business. The problem comes when fans in both the traditional markets and fans coming to the races in new markets suffer from Bernie’s maximum-profit schemes, such as the night racing ideas in some cases perhaps.  
    Protect the European races without a doubt. But there are also F1 fans in many nations- including myself and many others right here in the United States- who want a GP to attend. I think the bottom line is that expansion can take place in a very positive way, but Bernie obviously refuses to operate in that manner.

  15. James Steventon said on 20th April 2008, 19:24

    I believe that night races are a good idea, and in many ways it shows that Bernie realises the importance of the traditional F1 fanbase, which is mostly European.
    You can look at it from the perspective of the Singapore authorities who have poured millions into holding a race there later this year. After all that investment, all that work, Bernie tells them that the race must be at night to satisfy European
    It would be like racing at Silverstone at an odd time to please
    the ‘primetime’ viewer in China, or Japan. Could you imagine the outcry!
    The idea of night racing is fine as long as its done right. In America, NASCAR and the IRL series have been racing under the lights for years, and its spectacular to watch.
    The only concern for me is what happens if it rains, as in Fuji last year? Would not visibility be compromised? That could be a problem.
    Apart from that, I love the idea because it is different for F1.
    Why not race at Spa at night, or Monza? It would look awesome and would capture the primetime audiences in every
    European country.
    How many people would watch a Champions League game on a Tuesday afternoon? Not many is the answer, because they would be at work. At night, people get the chance to see it.
    F1 should be the same.
    You can’t expect millions of people to stay up until 3.00a.m in the morning to watch a grands prix? Thats stupid!

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