Should F1 have ??twilight? races? (Poll)

Low light looks good but it's hazardous for drivers

Low light looks good but it's hazardous for drivers

The Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend will, like the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, be another ??twilight? race.

These two races have later start times in an effort to improve television audiences in Europe. But is it safe to start races so late, and does it make any difference to the television figures?

Should F1 have 'Twilight' races?

  • Yes (28%)
  • No (67%)
  • No opinion (5%)

Total Voters: 1,104

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Nico Rosberg was one of the drivers who criticised the decision to run the Australian Grand Prix so late in the day. Speaking after the race he said:

If the monsoon comes down, the race is going to have to be stopped because we can’t race and drive with that amount of water,” the German told Reuters. I think twilight racing is not the way to go. In Melbourne it was obvious that it just increases the danger so much. The visibility is so difficult, you can’t even see the edges of the track in some corners. I was driving into the sun and that’s not what racing is about. So I really hope they reconsider that.

Robert Kubica agrees:

In Australia it was a big issue with the visibility at the end of the race, it was very poor, especially in the last sector. It was quite dangerous, even very dangerous. Here by postponing the race you have a higher probability of rain but we will see. It will be cloudy and rainy, most likely it will be very dark, if there will be no rain but it’s sunny we might have the same problems as in Australia with very low sun.

With heavy rain very likely during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, starting the race so late ay make it impossible to run properly.

The combination of low evening light and a Malaysian rain storm could make visibility too poor for the race to be run. What would happen then? Would they delay the race until Monday? Would we see dozens of laps completed behind the safety car as happened at Fuji two years ago?

And do ??twilight? races really improve TV viewership in Europe? Early audience figures for the Australian Grand Prix broadcast in Britain do suggest a significant rise over last year but there are competing reasons for why that might have happened: such as increased interest due to Lewis Hamilton?s title victory and Jenson Button getting into a race-winning car, or because of better coverage and promotion by the BBC.

These races may now be on at a more sociable hour in Europe but it?s bad news for fans in America and other countries.

The later start to the race caused various problems for the Australian Grand Prix organisers. Valuable corporate customers stayed away as the later start made getting flights after the race difficult.

I think twilight races are a poor compromise. Casual sports fans are increasingly used to be able to watch events when they choose to thanks to personal video recorders and on-demand ??as-live? replays. They are not much more likely to watch a race at 7am instead of 4am.

What do you think of ??twilight races?? Cast your vote above and have your say in the comments.

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33 comments on Should F1 have ??twilight? races? (Poll)

  1. Achilles said on 4th April 2009, 17:34

    Will they have amber visors? lol.

  2. Gman said on 4th April 2009, 19:17

    When it comes to the issue of these late-starting “twilight races,” I believe I agree with the vast majority of you in saying….. NO! NO NO NO NO AND NO!!!!!

    One more time, for good measure….NO!!!!!!!

    There are three good reasons for this, in order….

    1. Driver Safety: All the safety regs that have been implimented in the last 20+ years are slaped in the face by this ruling. If the drivers think it’s unsafe to race in, then they shoulden’t be racing in it- the sun glint off the sidepod mirrors last week was annoying me watching on TV- just think what it’s like out there on the track!

    2. Spectator preference: When it comes to staging Grands Prix, local fans should have the most say in when the race is run. Sure it’s nice to accomodate the fans in Europe, but if the Australian fans want the race to start at 1 PM local time, then it should start at 1 PM local time. The fans are the ones who come out and make race day what it is- and we pay pretty darn good money to do so! Make local fans at all venues the most important- anyhting less is a disgrace.

    3. Additional TV markets I’m not trying to launch a personal rant here, believe me, but al of these late-start races in Asia are absolutley brutal to watch live here in the western hemisphere. This adds up to huge masses of fans who have a very difficult time tuning in- a case in point is the 5AM local start time for this weekend’s GP. The late Asian starts hurt fans not only here in the United States and Canada, but also Mexico and Central America, not to mention Brazil and the key South American fanbase.

    Any way you cut it, “Twilight” races are a bad deal!!!!

    • Daniel said on 5th April 2009, 1:30

      Well, for brazilian fans, the Australian Grand Prix was 3AM, and the Malaysian Grand Prix will be 6AM. Last year, it was midnight and 3PM respectively, which means it didn’t change that much… what you lost in Australia with a good saturday night friends reunion to watch it, you gained in Malaysia by waking up reasonably early to see the race alone on sunday morning, or a little bit later, in time for Q3 on saturday morning…

      But for driver safety it is a disaster, and it shouldn’t be sustained by the european viewers’ confort…

      The funniest thing is: twilight races have become a much more serious issue than night races, that were tested and approved, in terms of safety and visibility, and not only in Formula 1… perhaps more race organizers will follow Singapore Grand Prix steps…

  3. Toby Bushby (@toby-bushby) said on 4th April 2009, 22:17

    How many people actually live in Europe? 1 Billion maybe? About the same as China or a bit more? If Bernie wants to encourage and please casual fans, maybe he should look at a). Where all the people live, and b). Where the races are. This year there are at least 8 races out of the European region, next year there’ll be more. China and India have about a third of the world’s population between them, indeed Asia has probably half. Surely if race times are to be changed, it should be to suit the majority of potential fans, to apply Bernie’s so-called logic.

    Apart from any of that, it was hard to see at the track in Melbourne and hard to see on the broadcast, it’s dangerous for the drivers and officials,and I missed the Who’s first song while standing in line for a beer because they had to start immediately after the race, due to the fact it was getting late. On a Sunday night. It felt like I’d been watching a European race by the time I got to bed. Not impressed. But as long as Europeans can get out of bed a bit later, it’s ok? Rubbish. Try telling that to the Euro fans with little kids. They’ll know what I mean!

    • But Chinese and Indian fans can’t (and won’t) put up with the extortion that is F1 official merchandise. Over 100 quid for a baseball cap?

      The counterfeit stuff is so much cheaper :P

  4. Pabs1 said on 5th April 2009, 4:35

    The one and only thing that should always be is SAFETY and if SAFETY is compromised it should NOT happen.
    What is Bernie waiting for: a driver getting killed.
    Besides as someone pointed it out with the DVR’s and Tivo’s most people watch the race when it is convenient.
    Bernis STOP always thinking of MONEY…… Greedy B…d

  5. steve said on 5th April 2009, 12:06

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa very wet egg on the face of Bernie – pity they didn’t ask the locals.

  6. PJA said on 6th April 2009, 9:29

    After the Australian GP I thought twilight races were a bad idea because the light levels and glare for the drivers was unsafe, and this view has only being reinforced after the Malaysian GP.

    Also I don’t know about anyone else but in some camera shots I had trouble making out which car was which.

  7. Younger Hamilton said on 26th October 2009, 15:34

    if F1 are gonna have Twilight Races then they shouldget Good Lighting Systems and start with the Lights on, Like in Abu Dhabi.Austraila is the Perfect track 2 do it in

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