Many drivers complained last weekend of the effect the low levels of light was having on their ability to safely navigate their way around the Albert Park track. According to some, Nico Rosberg being the most vocal, the glare from the sun and the shadows cast of the track made racing a lot harder. At some points around the lap, the mirrors were useless and drivers were forced to adjust the tints on their helmets.
The Australian Grand Prix was pushed back to a 5pm local-time start. The reasons behind pushing the start time of the race back is to accommodate Bernie Ecclestone and his wishes to make races available at a more convenient time for his key television market, Europe.
However, with the sun lower in the sky, it meant that often the drivers were thundering forwards with little vision as they were blinded by the light. And when they were travelling in the opposite direction, the mirrors became useless for the same reason. Although some might argue that with the vibrations and the fact that some teams place their mirrors far out on the sidepods, the mirrors are pretty useless anyway.
However, glorious sunshine isn’t the only problem. As the circus travels to Malaysia for this weekend’s grand prix, Rosberg has pointed out that should it rain over Sepang, the conditions could be even worse. Last year we saw how dark it was in Brazil when the drivers finally took the chequered flag. For the first time in my memory, the lights had to be turned on for the podium celebration. However, the Brazilian Grand Prix was held at a more regular time. Sepang is due to commence at 5pm and the area is prone to flash monsoons, as we have witnessed in previous races.
With cloud covering the circuit and rain pouring down, combined with decreasing levels of light, Rosberg could be correct with his concerns.
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.
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.
Even moving it forward by one hour or something will help us massively. It was just the last part of the race that was the really problematic time. Nico Rosberg.
The Singapore event, which is held at night for the very same reason – to gain as many viewers in Europe as possible – was less of a problem for the drivers. They all used clear visors and the light remained constant throughout the race, as it was being provided by artificial means. However, with the changeable conditions seen during the evening, the drivers are worried.
But do the drivers have a valid concern, or should they just get on with it and stop complaining?
I think the first time they used the light for the podium was in Singabpore 😀 but I understand what you mean. I’m also not to happy about those races, even on TV it was hard to differ the cars in some places, not compareable to how difficult it must have been for the drivers.
Surely, they know how to drive when it’s dark, they do so on nearly every test-day, but they are not racing each other there. A complete nightrace surely is easier for the drivers than such mixed conditions on the sunset. Sunsets are for endurance racing… very spectacular when a power- and still beautiful sportcar comes closer to you, bumping over the red-blooming track with it’s turned on lights which underline their speed (you see I got a passion for Racing-Sportscars) but that’s not the world Formula 1 should enter. It somehow looks stupid too…
I think Nico has a valid point – in fact I mentioned those same concerns before the race. The decision does seem at odds with S&Max’s safety at all costs mentality.
Seems like safety can be sacrified for the sake of Bernie’s bank balance.
Move the race back to 2pm and let the Europeans get up at all hours to watch. It’s only one race, and those of us down under put up with far more inconvenience as the rest of the races do not suit our local timing. Just shows we are more dedicated 😉
Right on Pink! While it is good for our friends in Europe to be able to see a race at a good hour, the also have plenty of their own races (fewer than they should, but still a number) to catch at a good time.
I have always said that the safety of drivers and spectators should come first when deciding a race time- and this is the case here with Nico’s comments. Second should be the preferences of the local fans- I would imagine the earlier start time would be preferred by many of the spectators in Melbourne, so make it happen.
Lastly, not to sound selfish, but the times for the first few races is absolute torture for those of us here in places like the easter U.S., where we are on EST time. It’s only a few rounds, but the late local starts make them too late to either get up early or stay up late for. We all know that Bernie doesn’t give a rat’s care about America, so I’m not holding my breath on that one.
It is insane to start the race at this time. If there are any problems there will not be time to re-start the race so we can expect that if there are problems we can have 45 laps behind the safety car so that the ‘race’ can be completed on time.
As Pink says this simply shows that Max’s safety crusade is as fake as his environmental crusade.
The pursuit of making the all mighty dollar is what actually shapes who gets to see the race at any given time. It seems that today in some countries more money is made when drivers are forced to risk their lives while driving during the setting of the afternoon sun. What a brilliant idea, at least for those who are east of the Atlantic.
Perhaps the Italian Grand Prix should be run in the middle of the night so we here in the Pacific Northwest can watch it at a more convienent time.
TV equals sponsor identification. A bigger audience equals more money for the sponsor and inflates the size of Bernies head…that is what he wants though, making sponsors happy and enjoying the press F1 gets by putting lives in peril in his pursuit for profit.
I agree with Pink, Gman, Empii and the other Steve.