F1 victim of its own greed as Malaysian GP fails to go the distance after late start

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The race ended in darkness after a widely-predicted deluge
The race ended in darkness after a widely-predicted deluge

The Malaysian Grand Prix failed to run its full distance after a massive downpour made racing conditions impossible

F1 races have always been at the mercy of the weather and everyone understands the impact that can have on them. But Bernie Ecclestone’s decision to start the race so close to sunset was a serious mistake.

There was widespread incredulity in Malaysia at his decision to run the race at a time when it was so vulnerable to the kind of heavy rain we saw. Local opinion should have been heeded, but it was ignored, because Formula One Management wished to start the race late to suit television audiences better. F1 has become a victim of its own greed.

This was the 11th running of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, one of the first new Asian venues to appear on the calendar as Eccletone sought to take the sport to emerging markets.

But of late he has woken up to the problem of how races in foreign lands are broadcast at unsociable hours for European television audiences, and has put race promoters under pressure to run night races or – in the case of the Malaysian event – twilight races.

The problem of these twilight races has been discussed here earlier. Not only is low light more of a problem, but in Sepang there is the additional problem of heavy evening rain.

Since F1 arrived in Malaysia this year it experienced the full force of Malaysia’s rain storm on several occasions. But at no point did it choose to move the race earlier.

The powers that be have managed to bring the sport into disrepute at both races of the year so far. The stewards’ inept handling of the safety car rules at Melbourne turned a minor error into a week-long row. And FOM’s naked greed has ruined the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Both of these points should be made by the F1 teams’ association should make very forcefully in future. When the FIA comes to elect its new president, the candidates should be asked why the Sepang farce was allowed to happen and how they would prevent it in future.

Read more: Should F1 have ??twilight? races? (Poll)

168 comments on “F1 victim of its own greed as Malaysian GP fails to go the distance after late start”

  1. What a farce. FOM ignored sound advice, and this is the result.

    1. Heidfeld second… what a shame to f1. Hi was overtake by half of drivers in this GP…

  2. i know nothing about the local climate, but as somebody mentioned on the live blog… maybe move the race to summer or autumn? as a european i like to be able to watch some of the asian gp:s at “decent” time of the day.

    1. How about european races start at 7am for the sake of eastern fans?

      Come on, this is the world championship – if in Malasia let them have their own schedule.

    2. Malaysia’s climate is the same all year round, there are no seasons, temperature remains the same with little variation. There are rainy and dry seasons though.

    3. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:10

      Did you even think about waking up earlier?
      It is an F1 race for God’s sake, not a Dusseldorf Karting Meisterschaft ( with all due respect for those racing karts in Dusseldorf:)!

    4. I can see the reasoning behind the twilight races, to suit European fans, however living in Australia, we only get to see about 4 races a year at a “normal” time of day. The rest of the year most of the races start at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm on a Sunday night, not that we complain. We just deal with.

  3. I never understood with Bernie moving races all around the world away from europe…why does he still want to cater for europes time, makes no sense. Everyone else watches at insane times…he threatens to remove grand prixs from europe, but still wants the start times for them.

    1. His commercial policy has made many of europeans tracks resign, so he has found another victims in the far east, (until they also die).

    2. Nick,

      Good question, and in Bernie’s world, he’s got a perfect answer for you…

      Bernie makes a huge slice of his money for CVC Group by selling F1 TV advertising and broadcast rights. He sees Europe as his biggest TV market, and the more people that watch F1 in Europe, the more he can charge for advertising on European TV and for the broadcast rights in European countries. Since most European and North/South American venues can’t and/or won’t pay his fees to host a GP, his solution is to move most races to Asia (where they pay whatever he wants, without question) but try to get the races on in the best times for Euro TV audiences.

      As with pretty much everything Bernie dose, it’s all about money, and has nothing to do with anything else.

  4. F1 fans always suffer from stupid decisions like these, yet we have no voice.

    We should get organised.

    1. the Sri lankan
      5th April 2009, 12:36

      Lets form Grand Prix Watchers association (GPWA)

    2. How about Formula One Real United Supporters and the chant F1 FORUS!

    3. Eddie Irvine
      5th April 2009, 13:38

      that’s a brilliant idea, our president could be Keith and for first time the fans will have a word on Formula 1

    4. Keith for President?

      No I would like to keep him out of politics!!! (Just in case)

    5. http://www.fosa.org/

      They seem to be the most organised.

    6. “http://www.fosa.org/
      They seem to be the most organised.”

      Never heard of them – so not that organized

    7. Let’s start a breakaway series…bring a round to The Glen and we can all party at my house, as long as you guys/girls don’t wreck the place ;)

    8. Praveen Titus
      6th April 2009, 15:38

      Yes, Mission 1 : oust Ecclestone
      easier said than done,

  5. Hopefully FOM will take notice and next year it’ll be run earlier. Less chance of rain as well as the fading light.

    Great win for JB and Brawn though….

  6. 2009 is turning into a farce.

    No Ferrari, No Mclaren, FIA at its idiotic best.

    1. I don’t agree Sumedh, just coz the normally front running teams are struggling, doesn’t mean it’s a farce at all. It’s leveled the playing field and made the whole thing a bit more entertaining…

    2. It was a farce before it started: basically it seems that designing and loading KERS on the cars of last year’s main contenders – and later allowing the diffusers – has severely harmed their aerodynamics and qualifying performance, offset by extra acceleration during races. It’s fascinating to watch but we should amit that it’s artificial and based on FIA’s ‘failure’ to enforce the adaptation to its own rules, giving undue advantage to non-KERS teams for now. Levelling the field (unfairly) is great, but I think they can only get away with it once – there’s no way Ferrari, McLaren and their backers will remain happy with this situation for long or any repeat.

    3. Revolutions are fun to wish for, but the results are always harder to cope with than what anyone predicted beforehand…. I have no problem with a total reshuffling of the order; it’s up to all teams, no matter their pedigree, to show that they can adapt to new rules rather than complain that they have to do so. BUT, it’s up to the FIA to make the rules absolutely clear and level for everyone – as soon as there was grumbling about the diffusers, the FIA should have announced clear and stringent clarifications WITHOUT waiting for protests, appeals, yada yada.

    4. What? This is a sport teams come and go – during the 90s it was Williams and benetton – before that Brabham, Lotus, before that Tyrell – thats how it goes. Its not a farce – now maybe its time to end the McLaren Ferrari era.

    5. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:19

      I agree with Maciek. Rules put forward in a clear, transparent manner should do. For that though, we need the Weird Little Guy and The Spanker to step the hell down and enjoy their pensions in some forgotten land. No progress shell be made in F1 untill their sick approach is gone. La revolucion? Might be very close to that if the circus continues to take orders from clowns.

    6. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      19th April 2009, 16:04

      No Ferrari, No Mclaren – what’s farce about that? They’ve got very poor cars, end of story.

  7. I’m sure Bernie will try to blame Fota for this joke. “If the drivers had all driven faster, they would have finished before the rain got too heavy.” Because of course Bernie, as God, is completely blameless.

  8. As I said in the live blog… who calls them on this though? Imagine what would happen to a journo’s F1 career if they asked Ecclestone a question about it? Someone needs to stand up to that, it was pathetic and inexcusable.

    1. As I mentioned in the live blog, all the journalists get this chance and they get it often. Both Bernie and Max frequently entertain the regular paddock flacks. The problem is that none of them have any balls to ask the tough questions – they let everything slide.

      As an example – Ed Gorman from the Times had lunch with Bernie a couple of weeks ago and wrote it up in the paper. Instead of being about budgets, the FIA, Max, teams, FOTA, etc. Ed spent the whole time being charmed by Bernie as he talked about his personal life, his thoughts on the environment, his divorce and generally crap like that. The full reason why the FIA and FOM get away with this complete crap is because none of the journalists with access are game enough to challenge them – they are all afraid of losing their credentials or of whatever else.

      Instead now we have frustrated fans, drivers, teams and headlines that are consumed with the politics of the sport. It is a real shame considering how good the cars are this year, how good the drivers are and how excellent the racing has been in the past two races.

      The media attacked McLaren for what happen in Australia – and didn’t even mention the fact that the stewards completely screwed the situation up during the race by not resolving it there and then and also for completely not knowing what to do when a car leaves the track during the SC period. Same thing happen last year after Spa – the media focused on Hamilton and McLaren rather than asking why the hell the FIA are so disorganized that they can’t, with all the technology available, inform a driver and his team on the spot if they should re-pass or not.

      Complete disgrace. 2009 in F1 is more about what is happening off the track and it is getting worse and worse and worse and worse with each passing day..

  9. Go Kate! Change the World! (of F1) :)

    BTW : next headline has to be: “Top Button not undone in wet weather”.. surely? Someone use it! Please!

  10. Can’t help but feel ripped off…..not a great way to feel after an F1 race!

  11. Why do the teams not know the rules?
    Why did the Fia keep everyone in the dark about chances of restart?
    Why did the BBC not keep James Allen on, hating Legard commentary?

    1. We know the second one at least. The FIA kept quiet because they needed to give themselves time to figure out who finished where.

      Countback curse strikes again (hopefully not as powerfully as last time).

    2. re Vettel : “He’s gone off again! No, it’s a replay..”.

      I think we’ll get used to him, and he’ll get used to the job eventually. But I know what you mean, as I couldn’t stand his commentary on the first race.

      Poor James Allen. His blog is very good though. http://www.jamesallenonf1.com. He’s also on Twitter if that interests you :)

    3. Had James’ twitter feed on all race, would turn off commentary but Martin is excellent, gives you that extra bit of feedback you want. And his grid walk today witht the toyota mechanics was laugh out loud funny!!

    4. Switch the the 5-live commentary if you have the Red Button or the CBBC one. Its not like the BBC aren’t offering alternatives. And given that it is his 2nd race whats the issue. James Allen was rubbish for most of his time with ITV, it was only in the last couple of seasons did he come good, Brundle took time as well. Give him a break

  12. Makes me wonder what would have happened if they were using Bernie’s medal system?!

    1. Good point, can they count half wins?

    2. Half gold medal: using 18K gold instead of 24k :-)

  13. How about “Button unzipped for title bid”?

  14. F1 has to show some respect to countries that host the GPs They pay their hosting fees, hence they should have the opportunity to put up a memorable event.
    No one will remember that its Bernie that made the Malaysian GP a farce, we will just have the memory of cars having to stop just past the half way point.
    I wonder if the “European” viewers were satisfied with the outcome, since thats the reason Bernie often gives.

    1. Well I certainly wasn’t…

    2. I’m satisfied & I’m in the UK. It is fantastic that the ‘real’ world intervened.

      Utley daft putting the time back though. Here in Europe I always watch live.

      I don’t get the time changes because there is/was always a ‘socialble’ full re-run anyway.

    3. In Bernie’s world, he shows little respect for the host countries- instead, he demands their total and complete compliance for him bringing his superior product to their shores. That’s why, when some venues complain about his price hikes, he refuses to negotiate- he’ll just go somewhere else where some rich government shells out the mega-bucks.

      If Sepang’s promoters complain about the start time, he’ll just tell them that he will cancel their contract and take the race somewhere else.

    5th April 2009, 12:27

    ha ha …Matt!!! brilliant!!! #:)

  16. True, half a medal?

  17. chaostheory
    5th April 2009, 12:28

    Another proof that no amount of sporting and technical rules changes will have no difference as long as the sport will be run by Bernie OR as long as he wont change his politics (and himself).
    BTW – this GP was historical: BMW engine failure! :)

    1. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:28

      True and sad at the same time. Sad cause I’ve had my fingers crossed for Kubica. As always.

  18. But haven’t races been stopped earlier? I mean, what’s the whole fuss about? In the USA they don’t even race (on ovals) when it rains, and the fans don’t mind that, attending (NASCAR) races in great numbers. Of course, I would have preferred dry racing today, there has been lots of overtaking anyway and Nico Rosberg had a good chance of finishing on the podium, or even winning. Nevertheless, had the race been red-flagged a lap later, Timo Glock would have scored his and Toyota’s first GP win…

    1. What evidence for Glock winning one lap later?

    2. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, yes. But they were told by many people that if they started the race late this would happen. And they ignored what they were told.

    3. It’s just like that wet race in Monaco. Glock’s the new Senna! You heard it here first.

    5th April 2009, 12:30

    Simon!!! :) cracking !!! hes not the messiah, hes a very naughty boy!!! :)

  20. Getting up in the middle of the night or coming home late to watch races from far flung corners of the world used to be half the fun. There you were on a dark, cold march night and there they were in the heat and brilliant sunshine of Melbourne, it was cool. Having said that I do like a rain hit race.

  21. Last Sunday you were all saying that the stewards had come to the right decision to reinstate Hamilton to 3rd (albeit that Trulli’s penalty seemed harsh, but at least consistent with Spa last year), but because McLaren and Hamilton lied misled them, the matter was re-examined. This was down to the team and the driver, not the stewards and nothing at all to do with FOM.

    Sure, was all thought moving the race to a later time seemed to be risky, and it was, and perhaps it’ll be moved back next year. There’s no guarantee that the same thing won’t happen at lunchtime, although it’s unlikely.

    So the race didn’t make the end – what’s the real problem? It was an exciting 30 laps, plenty going on, plenty to talk about. Just because a race doesn’t make it to the end, does that really warrant an article with this tone?

    1. You don’t see that what happen during the race should have been a NON ISSUE if the FIA simply had a published rule on what should happen if a driver leaves the track during the SC period.

      Instead of being able to resolve it with a quick radio call during the race – it lead to a series of events that escalated during the following days which lead to the McLaren situation.

      I don’t blame McLaren at all because it shouldn’t have been allowed to reach that point in the first place. There should be clean and published guidlines on what the rules are. It is completely the FIA’s fault that even one year after a similar incident in Spa, the drivers STILL have to radio their teams to get a clarification on what to do – and even the teams, nor the stewards know! How such a gaping hole in the regulations was allowed to survive for so long (and it STILL hasn’t been cleared up, so that same thing can happen AGAIN) is beyond me..

      It has also been mentioned a thousand times leading up to the Malaysian grand prix that Kuala Lumpur is in a damn tropical zone, prone to evening thunder storms and low light conditions – so a twilight grand prix should have been completely out of the question. That was all ignored for the sake of European TV audiences.

      FOM will still collect $25M odd dollars from the promoters of the Malaysian grand prix, FIA still won’t clarify any of the rules and the fans, drivers and teams will suffer further. Not only is this a complete shambles but nothing will be done about it..

    2. 100% Correct Nik- esp. the part about FOM collecting their check.

    3. My thoughts exactly Nick.

      BTW, did anyone notice how empty the grandstands were?
      If the race is run at the same time next year with the high possibility of red flags, I think you’ll see crowd numbers dwindle even further. And will Malaysia then be happy to continue forking over the $$$ for the ‘privelige’ of holding a race?

  22. <blockquoteI’m sure Bernie will try to blame Fota for this joke. “If the drivers had all driven faster, they would have finished before the rain got too heavy.” Because of course Bernie, as God, is completely blameless.

    Very funny James, but thats the way he thinks sometimes. He may even withdraw the race from Malaysia as they are unable to stop the rains from coming down. I was really scared some of those pit personnel might get struck by lightening, or even the cars too. A bit like driving with the KERS system outside:-)

    1. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 18:42

      i dont think he going to withdraw the race from malaysia.rain supposed to be the challege for f1 team using their wet tires and think of new strategy whenever rain coming.one of the team(i cant remember) change full wet tires too fast and make them lost few minutes and destroyed the tyres just because they think the rain will come down in few minutes.the question is why the race start at 3 pm and they knew heavystorm will be around 5 pm and the maximum time race is untill 7pm… the reason why the drivers are waiting is because they confirmed that it will restart again but the fia make decision to end the race because of time.10 minute before 7pm will not complete the race. i paid more than 500usd for the ticket but its worth it… haha XD

    2. ipaid500uds,

      Bernie will withdraw the race if the promtoers don’t pay what he demands, or they try to tell him what time to stage the race. With Singapore putting on the new smash hit right down the road, he has a real threat to use against the race in Sepang.

    3. Unfortunately, Oliver, I was only half joking. And it turns out my prediction was not too far off:

      From the Evening Standard:

      When Ecclestone was asked if he had any regrets over the late start he insisted: “No, I just have regrets about the rain. I don’t see anything wrong with the start time, we just didn’t know about the rain.”

      You didn’t? Quite a lot of people pointed this out to you…

      Full Story:


  23. Thinking for more Headlines, German one for you all.
    “Heidfelt he could have won”

  24. Classic for jarno victory “Trulli the best”

    1. Trulli puns don’t count, they’re too easy.

    2. I also like how every news site/paper has finally used up within two races every variation of the ‘brawn again,’ ‘natural brawn winner’ pun.

    3. Brawn to be wild?……

      I’ll get my coat…

    4. Trulli Oarsome. (Wet weather pun;) )
      Glock: You’ve been Nicked son. ( I like that one, lost his 2nd place after red flag )
      A Massa not amassing.
      And of course:
      “Top Button not undone in wet weather”

      Drivers Nicknames:
      Heikki “Captain No Laps” Kovilinen.
      Alonslow. ( Bit unfair really, he’s damned good given the car he’s got, but he got overtaken a lot today )
      Nelson “Job Seekers Allowance” Piquet. ( Fully justified! )

      Anyways off the top of my head, I’m going back to bed ;)

    5. “Top Button not undone in wet weather”


      Button opens gap at the top?

  25. It seems that even a casual F1 viewer would have a better grasp of the situation than the FIA. Anyone tuning in just for the race would’ve heard about the stupidity of starting late, because even if it hadn’t rained it was bound to be cloudy with no visibility. Plus, what difference would 1 hour earlier have made to audiences? Admittedly I would ideally get up at 12 on a Sunday, but that’s just because I’m a student.

    1. Being a student, you have 6 other days during which you can get up at midday. I know I did. Surely you could reserve one day for getting up early :)

    2. or if you’re in the middle/end of your dissertation you take a couple of powernaps a day and adjust accordingly to the GP :p

    3. Ah but I’m a college student, so missing lessons by getting up late is looked at pretty seriously. Saturday and Sunday are lie-in days, although I will (and did) sacrifice both for F1.

  26. Did you see Raikkonen having a Magnum ice cream, closest he’ll get to a Magnum this year!!

    1. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 18:43

      yeah…. and its free… lol

    2. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 18:43

      yeah…. and its free… lol having ice cream in the middle of heavy rain…. lol

    3. Pretty sweet that these teams have a full snack bar with ice cream and soda in the pit garages :)

  27. Driver of the day, Glock for great tyre choices, or Button for those fantastic laps before his pit stop?
    Or Massa for not spinning 5 times in the wet, for the first time ever?

    1. its not the first time.massa did not spin at brazil. or you did not watch that fantastic race? rain in the beginning and end of race

    2. It’s called a joke Ruud!

  28. The point I would make is more that we don’t need these races in far away lands. Look at how many people actually attended over the weekend, it was terrible. Compare that to the audiences in Canada, France or Austria, where the racing was just as good (if not better) and it makes you wonder why they are so keen to go abroad.

    1. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:37

      I’ll give you a hint:

    2. Exactly, and while you’re at it, don’t forget that even after the 2005 mess, Indianapolis still had over 100,000 fans in the grandstands in the later years, even if the circuit wasn’t the best for F1.

      In Bernie’s world, it doesn’t matter if 10 or 11 people come out to see a Grand Prix- as long as the host nation pays his $30-$40 million every year, they’ve got a race. Things like motorsport heritage, market value- those are all irrelevant to his plans.

  29. Bernie and his ‘good’ol boys’ club aka the FIA, is now a liability rather than an asset to F1. There decisions are quite clearly influenced by out dated political and ideological views that have no place in this or any sport. He and Max have all sorts subplots, vendettas against certain teams and their owners, certain drivers and even each other going on behind the scenes!

    Personally i dont believe anything out this F1 Mafia. And you know what, not even this ‘rags to riches’ story of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams-Toyota coming up with the 3 fastest cars all on their own….
    I guess it shows i didn’t like this race huhh :|

  30. I am the only one that would actually miss having to get up/stay up until ridiculous times to watch races that are far removed from my own timezone, if the whole season was brought in line with European times?

    Staying up all night for the start of the season feels like a tradition, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. For me, its always given races like Australia and Japan a special feel to them.

    Call me crazy, but my point is that die hards will always be willing to watch races in unsociable hours while casual fans can watch re-runs.

    And besides, why should European viewers benefit at the cost of people in other parts of the world?

    1. Pete Walker, I agree! I missed first GP of the year Australia’s 3 a.m. wake up :) (really, no joking)

    2. I’m european, but I completely agree with you

  31. Last week the FIA handed a 10-grid place penalty to Vettel for an accident that most people agree was 50/50; a racing incident. Bernie decides to move the race back to late afternoon, in the tropical climes of Malaysia where torrential afternoon downpours are frequent, bordering on regular, occurrences. This decision was not 50/50, nor was it a racing incident, it was intentional and with a clear end-goal. I vote that the FIA disqualifies Bernie immediately from this race and the rest of the season!

    That said, it was a great race, just wish it could have had the ending that it deserved.

    1. 100% agreed.

  32. what a farce by the FIA

  33. Don’t know what to do next weekend with no race to watch!!

    1. Go out, take drugs, have sex.

    2. First race of MotoGP season…

      by my calculations, the only weekend until November without F1/Motogp/GP2/A1/F2 now is the weekend with 9th August in it. And theres probably some other motorsport on, its just those are the only ones i watch

    3. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:41

      Get yourself a rifle and finish the business with FIA. We’d all be glad if you did.

    4. Gosh you guys are living on the edge…

      First week of baseball season over here- time to watch the Yankees chase down World Series Title #27 :)

  34. F1 isn’t the victim of its greed. It’s the victim of Bernie Ecclestone’s greed.

    Can’t he just take a long walk off a short cliff, or something?

  35. I am happy for people like Button, Glock, Trulli, etc — finally they are getting the rewards for their talent.

    But this sure is a complicated championship !!!
    and now the decision on diffusers is coming up ….
    with KERS and not KERS and now maybe more rules changes coming, the teams must be going crazy ….!
    Bernie and Mo could not have made it more complicated if they had done it on purpose

  36. As a McLaren fan, I am sure I am not the only one. Heikki has to go.

    1. But who to bring in, and also was unlucky in Australia, needs to just get taught where to place his car at starts.

    2. Heikki “Captain No Laps” Kovilinen?

      Bring in Anthony Davidson. I don’t think he’s signed for Brawn yet?

    3. Preceded by Hamilton.

    4. Don’t forget that Heikki was taken out in Australia before he could even get going- Sepang was different, but still, give the guy a chance- he’s been outperforming Hamilton in practice and quali.

  37. I believe the Results might change AS USUAL :P

  38. The thing that gets me is that we’re not even talking about really crazy times of day to watch this race! If they are still desperate for it to be a bit later, what would have been wrong with a 15:00 or 16:00 local time start? Just one or two hours earlier and, even if it doesn’t completely rule out the chance of late afternoon rain, they’ve at least made sure the light issue doesn’t factor as well. Those times give a 9:00 or 10:00 start for central Europe…

    1. Who wouldn’t get up for an 8 o’clock start in the uk? Fairweather fans, and they would have turned off in droves at todays race, complete lack of news from FIA, until race declared over. Even if they needed time to sort out the result, at least tell us that. Information is key, and the lack of transparency from the FIA is killing people’s interest just when it should be thriving with such good stories from the start of the season.

  39. As my dad said during the podium celebrations ‘What a bloody stupid sport this is’. I had to semi-agree with him.

    But in that same way that they will probably never have a race in Siberia due to the high probablilty of snow, I also believe that having a race in a tropical jungle is equally stupid, espicially at a time of day and year that invites a torrential race-stopping thunderstorm.

    Formula One is a European sport, the whole shebang is designed around European mid-spring-to-mid-autumn climates. THe first forrays into fly-away races were more sensible. Australia, South Africa, the USA, Aregentina. All countries in a similar lattitude to europe on either side of the equator, and they all worked (apart from that one time in Adelaide). And taking F1 into areas where climates do not suit it, such as Malaysia or Bahrain is a very silly thing to do.

    I noticed that there were many empty seats too. Seats that would be full in Europe or the Americas.

    1. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 18:58

      im semi-agree with you to…lol… but F1 is not just about racing… its about money..investment..corporate sponsor and GDP and GNP of country(if u know what i mean)…. kindda look silly but these company from the country paid for it.they paid FIA to give them licensed to do f1 in their country.like malaysia the contract continue till 2015 as long they follow the rules they deserve it.if im not mistaken the austalian contract should be end last year due of some problem(i cant remember).about the seat,they dont give a damn… local people like us generate less money than corporate company that paying them billions to let f1 run in their country.example like petronas which is number 1 company in malaysia and listed in fortune 500 company gave more than 50% i think seats at main grandstands which i paid more than 500usd.more over student who studied in malaysia can purchased the ticket with less 80% than ususal price.i think this is the cheapest f1 race i ever been.try check it out the padlock club for corporate ppl. cost more than 5 000 usd per person and the best is it is full house.conclusion,they dont care about empty seats,the only thing they care is u paid for it u gave 5 star facilities u deserved to do F1 race. (just my oponion)

    2. ajokay,

      You’re correct in many ways, although I don’t think Argentina or South Africa are exactly on the same latitude as Europe ;)

      Seriously, as long as Malaysia is willing to pay the bucks to bring F1 in, Bernie will be happy to show up every year. That’s what it all comes down to- what venues will pay his fees for a race.

  40. Moving time for Europr races makes complete sense as most of the audience is European, just a pity they dont bring back some of the old classic European tracks.

    That track cant cope with monsoon conditions..regardless of light conditions it woulda ran outta time anyways

    Loved the race, seen some super overtaking moves, GLOCK showed some spirit and seems to be an upcoming star…the only reason I would complain is if I was at that track, and waited in the wet to see more racing which didnt take place!

    1. sajonaraman
      5th April 2009, 21:44

      Moving time for Europe makes no sense at all if the outcome is what we’ve seen today KB…

  41. Did they ever consider making a morning race? In Australia, a 9AM start would mean saturday night races in Europe… as for Malaysia, it would be better having a race at 3PM…

    I know a morning race would be bad for the saturday night parties made in the host city… but what do you think of that?

    1. But afternoon parties are better they last into the night!!!!

  42. There’s two Simon’s commenting! I’m sure this is confusing because the other Simon has proposed Glock for drive of the day while I slated him in the live blog for losing 5 places off the start and just getting flukey with the tyre choice. I will post as SimonRS from now on to avoid confusion!

    I also strongly agree with ajokay. No french and canadian grand prixs this year is absolutely absurd. I can’t think of a country more poorly suited to F1 than China, in terms of politics and economics, but that’s where we’re headed next.

    1. Yes, and don’t forget us here in the U.S. among those who have been robbed of a GP date :(

      But just think, next week we will all have so much fun looking at all those multi-colored seats and thinking they are full of F1-savvy fans, just like at Montreal, Indy, or Magny-Cours :)

  43. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    5th April 2009, 13:42

    Greed is the word here. Bernie is hell bent on destroying European and especially Britain’s GP’s, but then disregards the local fans with putting the race on towards the evening to suit Europe.
    Also Bern, how would you have given Jenson half a medal today?

  44. I think Bernie is stressing out about the TV times for European audiences for no reason. The hardcore fans will always get up at 3am to watch the race, and for the more casual fans there is a ‘as live’ replay at a convenient time in the afternoon. As far as I can see this works fine for everyone.

    How long until he gives the ultimatum to Australia and Malaysia – make it a night race or your country will loose it’s GP?

    1. Err, he did that last year. Must be the first and only time Bernie has backed down in his life, as Melbourne refused to back down & host a night race as demanded. Thats why we ended up with this stupid ‘twilight’ compromise, which is even worse.

  45. I think this was an honest mistake from Bernie bowing to pressure from sponsors (who are predominantly european with products targeting european demographics). Now that he has this precedent, he can easily counter such pressure in the future.

    I’m finding a lot of F1 fans to be a little on the whiny side, forgetting that if the sport isn’t profitable, it won’t be able to continue. I also see a distinct lack of ability to see things from the commercial or organizational side, both of which have been running for half a century (highly successfully, I might add).

    All this over some rain. Keith, you want to add more perspective and balance to your posts; though I’m sure it helps your readership if some outrage is shown every race.

    1. I think there are a lot of things right about F1 and some things wrong with it. I think this was a silly, avoidable, hubristic mistake by Ecclestone and he should be held to account for it. As several commentators have pointed out, there’s a feeling that seldom happens at the moment.

      That said, the opening laps were pure gold and thr race report will reflect that.

    2. Do you really think anyone has that sort of influence over Bernie? Make no mistake about it, this was not pressure from anyone other than Bernie himself.

      And F1 is profitable, always has been. Its just that most of those profits flow directly back to Bernie himself. How else do you think a carsalesman accrued a five billion pound fortune? There ain’t that much money in used cars ;)

  46. I first suspected that the dodgy diffusers didn’t give that much advantage, but now it is clear that they work in all conditions. With the three teams Brawn, Toyota and Williams dominating proceedings, completely favouring these controversial diffusers.

    I personally think it is good to see some other teams up top, provided it is all legitimate. I guess that the diffuser hearing will come to nothing, or what would they do? change all the results again, surely not.

    It is time for others to catch up.

    If there was a legality box that the diffuser had to sit within then all would be fine, and nobody could complain.

  47. an absolute farce why didn’t stand up to this decision months ago. great chance the journalists won’t ask these questions to Max and bernie. a more simple reason would be to move the race to a more suitable, f1 related country for example montreal but no bernie can’t spare a few money notes. i wonder if bernie will take accountability, probably not.

  48. Why pander to the EUR TV crowd? What about the American, Asian, & Indian ones. Is this really developing F1 in Asia and other new markets ( read places with cash )? Probably the reverse actually.

    You’d be well trucked off – be it spectator, government, fan, sponsor, team or media. Everyone pay alot of money (during a fin crisis no less) to watch what everyone knew was going to happen – cars sitting in the rain with officials dithering.

    How many of these will be up for it next year? To be successfully just turning up isn’t enough. How many will upgrade their tickets, bring their kids, bring more reporters, purchase more signage, spend more on marketing, get rock bands etc. Want HD? – like the TV companies are going to shell out the cash for the BW upgrades to watch rain!

    In a world recession you have to be better – F1 is on the ropes. This is tragic as we are finally getting really good wheel to wheel racing and a ‘fairy tale’ for the Brawn team.

    Well I liked the race anyway but I feel bad for people that coughed up cash to watch Kimi eat an icecream.

    1. chaostheory
      5th April 2009, 14:44

      “Kimi eat an icecream”
      -HAHa , that was the best thing coming from Ferrari camp today. And I love Raikkonens attitude :P:P:P

    2. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 19:01

      hahahahaha i love the last part….. sad of watching kimi eat ice cream

  49. Why the hell, FOM has to decide when the races has to start.

    Everybody knew that in Malaysia at 17’00h there is a high probability of storms, and, there is a twitlight problem.

    Quite annoying not been able to watch a full race. Let see how it works in China, I think the race will be at the same time (not very sure on this)

    1. Chinese Grand Prix starts at 3pm local time, according to Wikipedia.

  50. Why pander to the EUR TV crowd? What about the American, Asian, & Indian ones.

    Because the sponsors are predominantly European, with products targeting European demographics -hence the need to make sure European fans watch the race.

    Boy, what a bunch of know-it-alls. Between this and pretending to solve all the problems with stewarding, it’s such a surprise FOM doesn’t hire you all to run the show.

    1. Ignoring the American, Asian and Indian crowds, in my eyes is a very silly move.

      Both China and India have absolutely massive populations, if only a small percentage of these populations watched the races on TV it would probably total more than all of Europe put together, and then it might actually be worthwhile for huge companies, rather than European bankers, to sponsor F1 teams, cause they would be reaching a massive audience to sell their products to. It would become worthwhile for companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to get involved. European bankers probably aren’t all that interested in selling their products to the average Indian or Chinese person, but you can guarantee Coke and Pepsi are, if only there was the audience in the emerging markets to make it worthwhile for them.

    2. I think if you sponsor F1, its because you are seeking to attract a global audience, not just European.
      I can assure you companies such as ING, HP, Shell, Bridgestone, Virgin etc have a huge presence in Australia. So you arguement there just doesn’t wash.

      I like your suggestion though, F1 would be all the better for it if it got people who knew about the sport to run it. If they are fans, then so be it.

    3. I agree those brands have a large presence in Australia, but Australia has a very small population. 20 million in total of which maybe 2% would regularly tune into watch F1, so 400,000 people in Australia. Where as China and India have populations of 1,330 million and 1,150 million, so if you could get 2% of both China and India to tune in that’s almost 50 million people, and 50 million potential customers. The only problem being the average wage in China and India is pretty low, so they wouldn’t have heaps of disposable income and aren’t that able to buy expensive products, which generally the companies that sponsor F1 sell. So there isn’t much inventive for the current F1 sponsors to expand into emerging markets, because no one in the emerging markets can afford to buy their products. Where companies that sell cheap products and heaps of it would be interested in the emerging market, because people can afford to buy a cheap luxury such as soft drink, and I would assume the marketing budgets of Coca-Cola or Pepsi would far exceed that of ING, HP, Shell, Bridgestone or Virgin. So if F1 paid more attention to the emerging markets, there would many more companies looking to get involved in F1, which means more money for the teams and for Bernie.

  51. Whatever one might say about the start time, how good was it to see close overtaking battles like the Webber/Alonso stuff? And great result for Button and BrawnGP….just wish they’d started earlier, and not scheduled the Malaysian GP in the middle of the monsoon.

    1. It was very good, just a shame it had to end early due to poor planning.

  52. makes me glad i decided to sleep it out and watch the replay today. i haven’t done that in years–probably when some guy named schumacher was in his 4th or 5th title year.

    my,my…the FIA (aka Mad Max and the Poison Dwarf-gotta love whoever came up with those monikers) are certainly showing the world what an expensive clusterf*** really looks like aren’t they? we all know that they aren’t actually capable of listening to what logical arguments are put before them but you’d think that after being in the racing business for ummmm decades now they’d have been able to see this one coming all on their own.

  53. No surprises that the rain caused the race to be stopped – I would think that the majority of people using this blog probably mentioned it before they even got to sepang.
    The absurd point about it is that F1 and the Fia – keep on with this myth that the are bowing to green issues – kers? – and there is demand in these parts of the world to host F1 – kers adds weight – weight more fuel power to drive a given weight?.
    These countries have no background history in F1 or mainstream racing development – they are given the chance to race in A1GP – a cheaper one make formula which has a certain degree of popularity – but also when you see the broadcasts hundreds of empty seats?
    Bernie is an old man – Max is a dirty old man – we need new blood at least in their fifties in charge of F1 and the Fia – they need to get back to their main fan base – stop shipping race cars around the world – more waste of earths rescourses – and develop race engines with either different fuels or give manufacturers the space to develop more fuel efficient systems – no refuelling possibly – of course that would lead to heavier starts but as the racing progressed would then give opportunities for passing as brakes and tyres degraded.
    Also having only one tyre supplier is looking no better as all of the tyres supplied seem to suffer from some fault or other – not enough grip – falling apart – tyres and racing teams should be allowed to work in developing suitable mixes – tyre development is one aspect that benefits all motorists.
    God I mind my first Honda motor bike in the sixties was supplied with bridgestones – deadly in even a light mist – put a set of dunlops on and the difference was amazing – nothing changed – I could go but enough of suggestions.
    P.S.Well done brawn and button, and co – just wonder what post race decisions will do for results now?

    1. I agree with everything you have there, except for the one tire supplier deal (see: Indianapolis 2005)

      As for Max and Bernie, I will gladly buy you a brew and we’ll commiserate when Max wins re-election in the sham vote he’ll stage this summer :(

  54. spot on billy7766. I bet none of us were complaining this morning when Webber & Hamilton were trading positions in a reminder of the legendary dice between Arnoux & Villeneuve. Spellbinding race, yes its a pity it finished early but what we did see was terrific.

    Why cant we talk about that?

    It seems a default setting of too many f1 fans, including you Keith, to be critical, to complain, to bemoan f1’s current state. Jeez, have you seen other sports?

    Today was brilliant up to the rain. Last week was too. My glass is half full, even if it is mostly rainwater.

    1. I liked all that stuff too, but it was a poor move to start the race that late. Just like with the sun in Oz, it was a danger to the drivers, first and foremost.

    2. Why cant we talk about that?

      What makes you think we can’t? I had a lot of positive things to say about the race here: Button wins again but rain stops play at Sepang (Malaysian Grand Prix review)

      But the early stoppage was obviously the first major story in its aftermath.

  55. I don’t know if I’m the only one but I actually don’t mind getting up for races early in the morning (late at night?!…whatever!).

    All this shenanigans with twilight races is a bit ridiculous.

    Stage the races at one o’ clock local time, Makes for better racing, is safer for the drivers blahdee blahdee blah.

    And if you do fall asleep during the race, just catch the replays later in the day duh!!!

    Just make sure you don’t watch the news or anything! :D

  56. I came to a similar conclusion in my blog http://www.stuffchannel.com/greed-killing-formula-1/ – greed is killing formula 1, as it the foolish belief that the only real audience for F1 is in Europe. Moving a race to a time that makes it more palatable for a certain part of the viewers, while risking the actual event is stupid. It is greed at it’s best – Bernie wants more money for the races, but he doesn’t want to run them when they are bad for his “key” audience.

    When people stop talking about the racing and start talking about other things, you lose them as fans.

  57. I agree with every word Keith wrote on this.

    All of us were well aware of the problem but Bernie decided to dash headlong into the mess any way. He knew there was a good chance this would happen so you have to ask why. Something must have motivated him to create this mess. We know he is motivated solely by the acquisition of the almighty dollar so how does this mess generate income for him. Simple. Thousands of newspapers and thousands of TV news programs will carry the story of this farce and all of them have to buy video or pictures from FOM/CVC. They all have to pay Bernie. The headlines that will be generated and the people that read them will be added to the numbers of viewers and readers that go into the count at the end of the season so that Bernie can claim that F1 has a bigger audience that the entire population of the planet several times over. Big audience equals bigger fees from TV stations etc for coverage and from trackside advertisers and anyone who wants to buy a race.

    Someone asked why the race wasn’t called off until ten minutes before the end of the two hour time limit when the teams must be given a minimum 10 minute notice of a re-start. It was obvious half an hour earlier that the race couldn’t re-start. TV companies pay Bernie a lot of money for the right to transmit his coverage. They sell advertising at very high prices due to the afer mentioned audience numbers. As soon as the race is declared their audience numbers drop and they and their advertisers become annoyed at Bernie and resist paying his inflated rates. So we are treated to half an hour of what amounts to a blank screen and Kimi eating ice cream. But at least we allowed Bernie to collect a few more millions.

    1. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 19:10

      this is one good answer… should publish this in news paper… lol make sense after all.. he dont want to hurt media feeling because they the want who going to market formula 1 after all

    2. Hey I like any answer that says ‘I agree with Keith’ :-)

  58. Have watched F1 since early sixties and have never seen such stupidity before from the so-called “Governing Body”.They have,over the years,made the cars more dangerous by taking away ground effect,then slick tyres etc,etc.So now they come up with running the race into twighlight sunshine in Australia and now the daily downpour that all the locals warned them about.The drivers should insist that NO F1 race starts later than 12 o’clock midday regardless of location.Don’t let the media bugger the sport like they have in soccer,cricket etc,etc.The old saying “P..s-up in a brewery” keeps coming to my mind.How many ex-drivers are on the board that makes the rules.

  59. Praveen Titus
    5th April 2009, 17:28

    I don’t know if you guys have ever thought of this. But somehow the idea of one guy controlling a sport doesn’t suit me. Sport is not a commodity to be manufactured and sold. I know F1 can’t survive without commercialization or a rich guy taking over the reins, but it isn’t right way to do it. Are Olympics and World Cup Football and other sports run this way? Why do we let the pinnacle of motor racing fall into a pair of greedy hands that head the FOM? Here you have one guy called Bernie Ecclestone who calls the shots. Today he decides only maximum winners should become World Champions, tomorrow he’ll say all Asian races must be held in the night. He has robbed the entire North America of a race. The land of Gilles Villeneuve can’t appreciate F1 in the flesh anymore becuase one guy decides against it!

    CAN’T YOU GUYS GET THE PICTURE? Whatever you may wan’t me to believe (I know Bernie made F1 more professional and all…), this guy DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE GOOD OF F1! All he wants is to fill his pocket with a good amount of green. I say a board or a group of elected people should OWN F1. Or the teams should OWN it.

    I know it’s all somewhat wishful thinking. BUT IF WE FANS WHO GENUINELY CRAVE FOR THE GOOD OF F1 don’t protest, who will?

  60. Does any one know if Jenson would have claimed a ‘win’ under the winner takes all Bernie rules?

    I’m guessing Bernie himself probably didn’t even know.

    1. I remember it was accounted for in the version of the sporting regulations that circulated after the ‘most wins’ rule was first announced, but I don’t remember how. The document is probably in the drop.io if you really want to know:


    2. Thanks Keith.

      Seems as though a ‘Bernie-Win’ would have been awarded for any race lasting over just 2 laps!

  61. I’m an American fan from California and the race occurred at the worst possible time for me. I had to stay up until 3 AM watching a race that didn’t finish. In previous years, it wasn’t so bad because the Malaysian GP began at 11 or midnight. But every decision to cater to European audiences makes it more and more difficult for me to watch F1. It’s as though Bernie does not acknowledge me (as well as most of the USA) as an audience. For most of the other races I have to get up at 4:30 AM and it doesn’t help that any chance for me to watch the Asian races at a reasonable time are now being taken away.

    1. Steven,

      I feel the pain- i’m out here on the east coast, and had to drag myself out of bed at 5 AM to see the start.

      If you’re new to the sport, you’ll soon discover that Bernie has a secret hatred of the American market. Most of that revolves around the fact that the national and local governments, along with promoters and venues here, won’t bow down to his demands to pay mega-bucks for the right to host a GP. That’s not just the case with Indy- it runs all the way back to the Long Beach days. Also, Bernie knows how much the car companies value America, and by keeping them out of the U.S. market, he thinks he’s keeping them on a weaker footing to deal with.

      It’s all a very sad deal, because with some dedicated marketing and promotion, F1 can be a very successful venture in America. It won’t challenge the domestic sports in sheer popularity, but it can be a great and popular product, much like EPL soccer. But for Bernie, it’s all irrelevant.

  62. sajonaraman
    5th April 2009, 18:49

    As I said before, the combination of Tilke, Ecclestone and his anything-for-cash attitude is killing the best motorsport in the world. Every single Malaysian knows it rains in the evening. It has been like that for centuries, nothing new happened today. Still, the all-seeing-Ecclestone and the likes of him took the decision to change the race schedule so us, in his oppinion lazy yet relatively rich europeans would move their butts from the bedroom and watch the race. Well done Bernie. I could have slept even longer if I knew it’d be such an utter farce. I’d be twice as glad if I had to get up earlier and see the whole bloody thing uninterrupted you old fool!
    Bravo BRAWN, cheers HEI and GLO.
    Bravo Martin Brundle- an epic performance.

  63. 2008 made F1 a joke. 2009 has had the effect of making Formula 1 almost unwatchable.

    1. ipaid500usd
      5th April 2009, 19:11


  64. Nice one Bernie, this makes two fiasco’s in a row !!!

  65. HounslowBusGarage
    5th April 2009, 21:29

    FOM to sue God over rain!
    In a shock move this evening Formula One Management has issued a writ against ‘The Supreme Authority’ claiming damages for loss of earnings and advancement of business in relation to the rain today at Sepang. The writ alleges that the Supreme Authority ‘was negligent, neglectful and just bloody-minded in allowing, permitting or otherwise causing to happen rain in Biblical Proportions at the Malaysian Grand Prix today.
    In a separate action B. Ecclestone is taking action against the Malaysian organising authorities for ‘not building Sepang circuit about a thousand miles west where it’s lighter, longer’.
    Mr Ecclestone insists he did not make a mistake.
    In a counter claim, the Malasian organising authorities are claiming the return of 50% of their fee to FOM of $25 million, on the grounds that FOM only delivered half a race.

  66. Does this mean that the British GP should also be cancelled? It rains a lot in England. :)
    I thought that the 25laps or so that I saw were sensational. Especially Webber taking on & beating Hamilton. It was good watching some pitstop strategies going right & some going very wrong; Would have liked the race to restart earlier, but I enjoyed it all the same.

  67. theRoswellite
    6th April 2009, 1:44

    Haven’t read everyone’s blog, as I usually do, but I must toss out one comment….

    The saddest thing about this GP for me, was the fact that Nico had a good lead, and was looking strong, when the rains came.

    Oh, one other thing…I’d like to know if Bernie even feels, as in…experiences emotional concern…, anything when he sees drivers fighting against the setting sun in Australia (and possibly decreasing light and rain in Sepang)knowing that he alone is responsible for the situation, and it is only being done for commercial reasons (keeping those TV ratings up!)?

  68. @ Saab
    There are no seasons in Malaysia as Europeans know it. Google is always a good thing to utilize when you don’t have a clue.

    I agree with PinballLes .. as F1 and football fans in our part of the world, we make the effort to take time out or wake up whenever the races or matches are scheduled. We stay awake late Sunday nights into Monday mornings and we wake up at 3am to catch champions league matches. Where’s the dedication of a fan when demands are made for the sport to change to suit your comforts?

  69. Finally people will start to realise that problems in F1 is not Hamilton and Mclaren but Max, Bennie and the F1 management, they were the root cause of the problem at Australian GP, they are the root cause of the problem at the just “concluede” Sepang, the sooner the root cause of the problem is eradicated the better.

  70. Does Bernie really care as he’s walking away with a pocket full of ££££££££££’s from the race.

  71. Whinge whinge whinge, its like a mothers meeting on here. There used to be a saying in motor racing, “just get on with it.” well?

    “ooh bernie this, mclaren that, lewis is xx” – yesterday was a great race, the rule changes have worked and we all saw the race at a civilised time. so….STFU!

  72. I definitely agree with Keith :)
    F1 was nice because of the technology, the strategies, the drives… But: if it rains too much, if there is not enough light, not clear rules about the design of the cars… what are we taking about then: racing or images on the screen? racing or sales of newspapers?

  73. I don’t agree with twilight races. Even if the local climate meant there wasn’t an increased chance of rain later in the day, Melbourne showed that the light levels and glare cause problems for driver safety.

    While Singapore worked well last year as a night race I wouldn’t like to see anymore night races either.

    I don’t get what was so bad about the old system, die hard fans got up in the middle of the night, whereas casual fans could watch the replay. Anyway it makes a change for fans in other parts of the world who usually have to watch the race at unsocialable hours.

    Bernie doesn’t want European races yet he seems to be saying that most fans are in Europe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.