Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

The future of night racing - Singapore joined the calendar recently, but could there be more?

Published by Christine

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

It’s no secret that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been talking about and investigating the possibilities of night races. There are several new Grand Prix destinations set to appear in the calendar in the future – Singapore being the most prominent at the moment. As the calendar moves further away from Europe, the time differences become unbearable.

Everyone knows that you have to get up in the middle of the night to watch the Australian GP, but the number of races that mean anti-social hours in Europe seems to be growing each year.

The idea designed to fix this problem is holding the races at night. The drivers could still continue their quest for the championship under the cover of some flood lights, and we could all relax in the comfort of our own armchairs in daylight, instead of 3am.

There are mixed opinions on the addition of night races to future calendars. Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has expressed a desire to try his hand at racing at night, and he was involved in some promotions driving around the streets of Singapore to test out the roads. Fernando Alonso, the current world champion, does not seem so keen on racing at night. He has commented on his teams launch in Valencia which took place under floodlights, pointing out that it was difficult to see anything let alone the road, and that it was more of a strain on the driver meaning it would be difficult to keep up for the entire race.

Formula 1 cars don’t have head lights on them like other cars do, and it could be that cars would need to be designed to incorporate such a feature. It is more likely that the circuits will just invest in a number of flood lights placed at intervals around the track to keep it almost daylight.

This, in turn, impacts heavily on the green image that Formula 1 is trying to head towards. You can’t pretend to be interested in saving the earth when you are spending millions in electricity on lighting a race that you could very well have at mid-day.

So, the questions are all still up in the air: Who are they really doing it for – fans or sponsors? Would the drivers go for it? Who gets to decide the timings and why is Europe considered the ones to time themselves against?