Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Light at the end of the tunnel - Is Formula One complacent about night racing already?

Published by Christine

The debut Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend seems to be progressing nicely. Personally, I have found the sessions to be slightly on the dull side, although the track is very good looking and the facilities appear to be top notch. One thing I have found curious is the lighting situation.

Back when Singapore was announced as the first ever F1 night race, the topic of just how the organisers would light the event was a talking point for weeks. We wanted to know whether they had a backup, what would happen in case of a power cut, if the bulbs went out, if there was some epic disaster that ruined the weekend.

The FIA took the safety of the event very seriously, and monitored the plans at every opportunity. Mika Hakkinen took time out of his busy schedule to head to a short stretch of track weeks before the event, to test out the visibility and viability of the lights. Although it seemed as though everything was in hand, there were still concerns.

One member of each team was sent over to the track to have a look, and see if they could find any potential problems. The drivers spent plenty of time deciding on which visors they would be running with, and whether tinted or clear tear-off strips were the best. In short, there was plenty of fuss, it was the most exciting thing of the year, and we talked about it at great length in advance.

This year, F1 turned up in Abu Dhabi, it got a bit dark, and they switched the lights on. Where was the fuss?

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It does make sense that Singapore did such a great job with the lighting, that Abu Dhabi would just be able to copy their setup and be ready to go, but I can't believe there were no worries or thoughts about the lighting before the event got underway.

The twilight aspect of the race has me slightly concerned, only because driving into the sunlight is quite possibly the worst thing I know about being behind the wheel, and I only drive at 70mph. If there was a contingent sent over to Abu Dhabi from each of the teams to investigate the situation, we didn't hear about it. If the track has the same sort of backup system as Singapore, I haven't seen any news reports about it.

To me, the lights don't look as bright, and they don't look quite as consistent as the system in Singapore. However, none of the drivers have complained, and they seem to be quite comfortable driving once it gets dark.

The whole thing strikes me as a bit odd, but perhaps Singapore was so good that all the lessons have been learned already?