Formula 1 has announced that European races will start at least an hour later this season, as well as all grands prix getting under way at ten minutes past the hour.
New owners Liberty Media have made the changes after carrying out research which it says “has indicated that a wider TV audience is reachable later in the afternoons, especially in the summer months.
“Other minor adjustments have been done in order to avoid clashes with major sports events like the FIFA World Cup, to allow for differing sunset times and to attract a wider attendance to promoters’ events.”
As a result, races in Europe and the Brazilian Grand Prix – which traditionally started at 2 p.m. local time – have been pushed back by just over an hour to start at 3:10. The French Grand Prix start time is even later, being listed as 4:10 p.m. local time in order to avoid a clash with the England-Panama FIFA World Cup match.
For the North American races, the Canadian Grand Prix will start at 2:10 p.m., while the United States Grand Prix gets underway an hour earlier at 1:10 – the same time as the following week’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Practice sessions have also been shifted to later in the day as a result of the start time changes, with the majority of the European sessions on a Friday now starting at 11:00 rather than 10:00 as in the past.
The decision to start races at ten minutes past the hour was also made after discussions with broadcasters and is designed to increase the interest in race build-up.
“Usually, broadcasters go on air precisely at the hour, hence they miss the tension and emotion that characterize the minutes before the start of each Grand Prix. Thanks to this change, television spectators will be brought closer to the teams and the drivers and fully enjoy the spectacle offered just before the red lights go off.”