Drivers object to late race starts but Abu Dhabi wants special start time for finale

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers want a special start time for their race
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers want a special start time for their race

The F1 drivers have collectively voiced their unhappiness about late race start times. A GPDA representative confirmed to Autosport the Malaysian Grand Prix might have been re-started had it not been started so late:

It wasn’t the rain that was the problem in Malaysia, because it can rain just as heavily at 2pm as it did at 6pm. But there was no chance to restart the race when it started so late because it got too dark – and that was the problem.

Bernie Ecclestone wants the late start to remain because they mean larger television audiences in Europe. Meanwhile the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers are hoping its first race later this year will get an unusual start time of its own.

Circuit manager Philippe Gurdjian said:

We have a certain idea of what we would like to do, but I cannot tell you today what it is! We have a very specific idea, and I hope we will be able to do it – and it will be as unique as the track.

So what kind of time do they have in mind? At present the race is scheduled for a 3pm start (11am in Britain).

There has been no indication that they are planning to fully illuminate the Yas Island circuit to run a night race. In November Abu Dhabi sees sunlight between 6am and 6pm, limiting then to that time frame.

If they start the race much earlier the broadcast time would be inconvenient for Ecclestone. and if they start it any later they run the risk of the sun setting before the race finishes. So what could they be planning?

Whatever it is, they better tread carefully. They’ve been handed the privilege of hosting the final race of the year, which could in all likelihood turn out to be the championship decider, and F1 must not have another repeat of the Sepang debacle.

More on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

65 comments on “Drivers object to late race starts but Abu Dhabi wants special start time for finale”

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  1. hitchcockm00
    10th April 2009, 14:48

    Whatever it is, they better tread carefully. They’ve been handed the privilege of hosting the final race of the year, which could in all likelihood turn out to be the championship decider

    Agreed. Why do they feel the need to mess with the start time when they’re already in the unique position of being the season finale?

    I can’t really think of a unique time-slot that hasn’t already been run though. There’s only really morning, daytime, evening and night isn’t there?

    1. 3am would be fantastic!!! Almost as absurd as Sepang but nothing could be that absurd.

  2. Should’ve left the season finale in Brazil..

    1. Agreed… the excitement of the Brazilian fans just enhanced the excitement of the season finale all the more.

      It will be weird having the season finale played out before an empty grandstand.

    2. How much racing heritage does Abu Dubai have? None. Would love seeing Brazil or Suzuka as the finale.

  3. 6pm local start time on an unlit circuit. Just require the cars to run headlights like that McLaren video last year. It should be no problem redefining the rules mid-season, as they already plan on defining the rules regarding diffusers two races in.

  4. Maybe they’re planning a 1337 O’clock race!

    1. I don’t get it!

  5. I seriously doubt that fans in Abu Dhabi will come close to matching the Brazilian fans. It was a mistake to give the finale to them. The race organizers there must have made Bernie a good deal of some sort.

  6. “As unique as the track” – so 3pm then, guys? Sounds good to me.

    (Do not confuse having a couple of gimmicks with being unique or original)

  7. I think it is obvious. Re-read how special they emphasize how they want it to be. Special and specific, like the track is special itself. Considering the custom made stuff, hotels etc around the track, I’m sure it’s going to be something like a near sunset or just past sunset start, with very cool and innovative lighting systems, really making it a spectacle. I don’t think just plain floodlights, I think more neat things. Maybe lights in the ground or low around the track itself.

    1. Isn’t it too late, though? We know about Singapore’s lighting plans more than a year in advance, as far as I remember. Unless the rumours about the constructions running late is because they are trying to rush these changes through…

    2. They will need a spectacle, because as others have pointed out, there does’nt appear to be a huge history of open wheel, single seater racing, and having built the place from scratch it could well be like a ghost town, it will be odd not to have the huge crowds found elsewhere at the season finale, lets hope we’re wrong.

  8. Just require the cars to run headlights like that McLaren video last year. It should be no problem

    Actually that’d be a huge problem. As it means putting the lights [most prolly] on the front wings – which would completely change (=ruin) the aerodynamics of the cars. Putting a single light into the nose cone couldn’t be done, as the hole for the light would reduce the nose’s strength in a frontal crash.
    The lights would prolly require the cars to be fitted with a larger/heavier battery – but as you can suspect, F1 cars are not build to have spare space inside them. Thus it’d mean either huge adjustments or rebuilding the cars.

    1. Um, he was referring to a joke video from McLaren… so not meant seriously…?

  9. The thing I’m thinking is running the race late evening where the race gradually gets darker as things progress. Of course, it would need full floodlighting but if they could have that get brighter as the surrounding sky was darker, I think we’d have something truly incredible.

    Of course, Singapore could do exactly the same thing.

  10. yes 13.37 O’clock sounds pretty special to me too
    or what about 14.23?

  11. unless it’s in the morning or itsn’t on the hour surely there can’t be anything unique about it.

  12. perhaps they want a late evening race that ends in night? seems like the only ‘unique’ idea.

  13. Why end in Brazil with a great new track coming aboard?

    It’s obvious that’s the right choice.

    Now them kids must behave and don’t play with light of day just for TV sake… even if a GP is on at 10AM here in Europe, on a Sunday, how many people will get up to see it live (one hour before, bla bla…), if they can record it and see it at 1PM without knowing nothing about what’s happening – it’s like seeing it live without commercials and with a pause button.

    I did it for Australia, Malaysia (it was live here at 10AM – but the TV Show started at 9AM…. and will do again for China, with the race starting here 8AM Sunday….

    REC and se it when I wake up. Sore about NOT seeing all those commercials et all… :)

    1. I’m going to do the same from now on, only I’ll be downloading the race, since I can’t watch it live in Australia without ads cutting 20 minutes of racing out.

      Looking forward to China :)

  14. This looks like a Tilke-Dome, located in a Mo-Town, within the republic of Bernie-Dahbi

  15. They’re going to run it at night with no lighting and the drivers wearing night vision goggles.
    The TV shots will be like all those clips from the police helicopters with the engines and tyre tracks glowing.
    The result won’t matter as it will all be decided in a special meeting in December.

    1. Night vision goggles? What a riduculous idea! Surely the best solution would be to have one of those miner’s lights wrapped around their helmets, or failing that, some super powerful strobe lighting could be used, providing that none of the drivers are epileptic.

    2. lmao

      And the sponsors logos will show up like lint on your shirt under UV lights.

      Please please please at the end can someone call in an Apache chopper to take out the Mad Dwarf as he leaves in his car?

  16. KingHamilton
    10th April 2009, 18:29

    Maybe they’re planning to make the cars race upside down or hover above the track or being towed by Plasma powered horses or something of the like.

  17. What if they’re going for a Saturday race? I.e. Qually and immediately after that – the race? ;-) That would be quite some excitement for the fans … and also exhausting for the drivers :-)

  18. This sounds reasonable to me. Malaysia (and/or Bahrain, perhaps) used to begin at 2-3 PM.

  19. I like the idea of the night vision helmets,

  20. Sorry, I read the article incorrectly. It’s stated for a standard time of 3PM but wants something different.

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