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Drivers concerned about twilight racing // Later start times cause worries about shadows and visibility

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

It has long been the case that the flyaway races mean European audiences have to get up in the early hours to catch the Grand Prix live. The TV broadcasters will usually run a more family friendly re-run of the race in it's usual mid-afternoon slot, but by then, the results are already known.

In order to combat this, Bernie Ecclestone moved the start of the Australian Grand Prix back to 5pm local time. This meant it was on at a sensible morning time in the UK, and the Melbourne organisers liked that they could market Friday's activities as an after work event.

However, not all the drivers are that keen on the late starting time. With the sun starting to set as the race progresses, visibility begans to get worse. The sun can sometimes be in a drivers eyes depending where they are on the circuit, and clearly there will be some shadows cast onto the track as well.

Assuming the weather stays good, the race should be completed in daylight, but if there is any delay, or if the rain sets in, then the chances are higher that we could miss out on the end of a Grand Prix.

Williams driver Nico Rosberg has already expressed his disatisfaction over what happened in Melbourne and is increasingly worried about the upcoming race in Malaysia. The race in Sepang has also been pushed back to 5pm, and is even more of a concern as it is very likely that a monsoon could appear at any time.

Of course, you can't control the weather, and it seems like the visibility is the main point of concern. Rosberg says that the danger was increased in Australia simply because tehy couldn't see as much as they should be able to - and always used to be able to. He pointed out that at some points, he couldn't even see the edge of the track, and they use that to work out braking zones and cornering.

There's an element of this that makes you wonder whether the drivers are just complaining for the sake of it, but as the cars are not designed to run in the dark, and if it really does cause added safety concerns, then it's certainly something that should be reviewed.