When Did Night Racing Become So Important?

When Did Night Racing Become So Important?

We haven’t had a night race yet, the first isn’t due to take place until the Singapore round later in the year, but it seems as though Bernie has the bit between his teeth and is insisting that any race broadcast outside of European daytime hours needs to be staged at night. This recent push comes after Ecclestone threatened Australia again, bringing to the fore the fact that despite originally lobbying the idea of night racing, Albert Park organisers are now not so keen on the idea.

It seems as though Bernie has given the Australian Grand Prix an ultimatum: stage a night race or leave when your contract expires in 2010. According to Australian Grand Prix CEO, Drew Ward, the start time has already been shifted back to 3.30pm local time; something I wasn’t aware of but admitedly a welcome adjustment. However, despite being thankful of an extra couple of hours under the duvet, I do not agree with Ecclestone statements, the 77 year old just showing how out of touch with his own sport he really is.

The only way the race could stay in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia, is if it is staged during the night so that the public in Europe can watch it. Bernie Ecclestone.

When, for the love of all that goes fast, will Ecclestone realise that this sort of political maneuvering only further damages Formula One. I am European, I live in the UK, and one of my fondest of memories as a youngster was waking up at 5am and going downstairs to watch the Australian and Japanese races. And although I’m now much older and less keen to wake up at silly-o-clock, I would still do it, every single time.

We know that regardless of what happens beyond 2010, we have got a great event coming up in a week’s time. There is also 2009, and 2010. And whatever happens beyond 2010 will sort itself out. Drew Ward.

The fact is, I want an Australian Grand Prix. Australia wants an Australian Grand Prix. And Europe, just like the rest of the world, will still watch the Australian Grand Prix. For crying out loud Bernie, grow up.


  • this is a great post! i have written a lot in different forums (swedish) about exactly this. getting really tired of all this about night races, and city races also by the way, especially from bernie.

    i share your memories and excitement about getting up at night. if f1 should all fit into european times, then why not put all races in europe bernie?

    cant escape the feeling that we are in a bubble of city and night race frenzy at the moment, then in a few years it will not seem as such a great idea after all. and finally the asian and other public will grow tired of seeing all races at night time..

  • this is a great post!

    Thank you.

    and finally the asian and other public will grow tired of seeing all races at night time.

    Precisely. Bernie is trying to break into emerging markets then puts the race on when everyone is tucked up in bed.

  • I fully agree that Bernie’s logic is perhaps out of sync with the rest of the F1 fans across the globe. There is something ‘special’ about having to get up at the crack of sparrows to get your first taste of the new F1 season! Admittedly Albert park isn’t perhaps the best track on the calendar, but it’s played host to many an impressive debut such as Villeneuve and Hamilton and it would be shame for it to go.

  • Everyone in F1 appears to thoroughly enjoy everything about the Australian GP – apart from Bernie perhaps – and like you I find the whole “middle of the night” timing makes the race that little bit more special.

    Bernie pushing for more night races is a tad premature – we haven’t even had one yet so there can be no certainty that it will even be a success! For some reason Bernie just seems to enjoy arguing, upsetting the status quo and keeping the various GP organisors on their toes.

    Having said that, Singapore turns out to be the race of the season then perhaps we will all be changing our minds in a few months time…

  • This is just Bernie using whatever excuse he can, even one that will cost him a lot of money in lost spectators (if the TV companies respond to those losses) in order to secure an immediate small profit. What an unenlightened business strategy…

  • To me, this seems to be out of sync with F being a “world sport” (which it is, no question).

    You know, if you race in a different part of the world, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that 2 O’clock there is not the same 2 O’clock in Britain.

    As a lifelong F1 fan in America, that’s one of the nice things like liked about the races in Australia, Japan, China & Malaysia … thanks to the dateline, I don’t have to get up at 3.30 in the morning.

    All that said, I can see where Bernie is coming from, from a business perspective; having your sport on TV when 80% of your most loyal viewers are in bed sleeping is kind of a dumb move.

  • As Bernie and Max have said numerous times. We, the dedicated F1 fans will always be there regardless what they do. Bernie is after the casual viewer and they do not get up in the middle of the night.

    Although the current audience for F1 is mainly in Europe that will not be the long term picture. India already has an F2 team and from the reports I have read there is a huge groundswell of interest in the country already. It has to be only a matter of time before there is a Chinese owned team even if Bernie has to pay the purchase price for them.

    China and India between them have about a third of the world’s population and I am sure Bernie would love to give them two (or more) races each. One of the benefits of complaining about night races now is that maybe it will mean that in ten years time we don’t have to get up in the middle of the night for every race on the calendar.

  • The inaugural MotoGP night race from Qatar has just gone down without a hitch.

    The illumination was superb and the atmosphere seemed very good (I refrained from saying electric).

    None of this detracts from the point of the original posting.

  • I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Bernie for a while but I think this is more evidence that he along with Max is well past it.

    As you posted earlier Ollie , I think it’s far too early to consider having other night races at the moment.There are too many question marks , not least what will happen if we have a Fuji-like monsoon in Singapore.Are we going to have the entire race led by Mylander in his Mercedes? Will they have to delay/move forward the race to the afternoon if a downpour is forecast for the evening?

    As for the Australian GP I agree having to watch it while half-asleep does make it that bit more special.I don’t see why the time of a GP should be changed to suit Europeans more as it’s a worldwide event.I think Melbourne has issues with it’s own marketing – see my post on Vee8 about it.There definitely should be an Australian race and I don’t see why going back to Adelaide should really be much of a problem.

  • If Mylander crosses the finish line first at the end of the race, will he be awarded the points? And, even more importantly, do Mercedes get the Constructors’ points? Will they have to split them with McLaren?

    These are important questions that need to be answered now, before we arrive at the situation only to find the FIA has made no provision for such an eventuality.

    Harumph, harumph…


  • I live in Australia- and I can tell you there is a snowball’s chance in hell of them having it at night. The track has many residences nearby, and besides by law all loud events must end no later than 11pm

    Besides which- we get to see Singapore and Melbourne at decent times- The rest of the races all start at rediculous times.

    the answer is stay up late(if you dont have to go to work) or buy a vcr and tape it

    Face it Bernie- not everyone lives in Europe (or the USA for that matter) and YOU will just have to live with it…

    (already formula racing is attracting critisism for taking so much of the public tax money here in Australia- an attempt to push into night racing with even more costs for lighting and late night noise would likely see Australian racing disappear totally as government money for the track is the major $$ in its income)

  • I live in the UK, and one of my fondest of memories as a youngster was waking up at 5am and going downstairs to watch the Australian and Japanese races.

    When I was young I wasn’t allowed to!

  • I’m with the majority on this one that the race time should be local to the track and not moved to accomodate TV audiences in Europe. Call me cynical though – but I have to say I’m not at all surprised by the night-race development. F1 has been all about making money for some time and this is just the latest example of them making sure they can squeeze every penny out of advertisers and therefore generate more cash.

  • getting here a bit late-my apologies


    Great post. I agree with you. Here in the States we have to set the alarm or stay up for every race except Canada. I always felt that my sacrifice was part of my obsession with F1. But I also think that Bernie is now concerned about the casual fan. As hard as this may be to admit the casual fan is what will keep F1 going. Some of the casual fans will turn into die hard fans. But Bernie wants that guy(bloke) who is channel surfing to stop at the race and watch. The TV networks in Europe are counting on this.

  • @openwheel:

    I agree with your entire comment except one thing: It’s 3am UK time and I’m still up. Late? Oh, actually is it quite late. Eeep!

    I always felt that my sacrifice was part of my obsession with F1.

    Like me, I hope you continue feeling that.

  • I dont see bernie questioning the start time of the malay, chinese or japanese gp and they are almost in the same time zone as melbourne.

    I think its just his way of bullying the organisers into being his ‘yes man’, making an example of one country so that the rest can get in line.

  • Bernie was having a go at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier in the year, but like you Johnny I also think this whole issue of night races has a strong political under-current to it. Bernie was saying in 2007 he thought Sepang was starting to look tired, and at the same time they were trying to extend their contract. The same has happened with Melbourne. They want to extend their current 2010 expiry date and Bernie is applying the pressure. Fuji and Suzuka have quite a long contract as it was renegotiated in 2006 I think. Therefore Bernie hasn’t got any real leverage with them at the moment. I’m sure they’ll receive the ‘Ecclestone treatment’ when their contract comes up for renewal.

  • I have an idea. Why not start the race at 9:00 AM in Melbourne. That works out to 11:00 PM (Saturday) in Europe, 10:00 PM in England, 7:00 PM in Sao Paolo, 6:00 PM in New York and 3:00 PM in Los Angeles. That’s pretty convenient TV times for everyone in the world. I’m sure that Bernie, Max and all their VIP friends in the paddock could start having their champaigne and caviar at 9:00 AM if they try.

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