Formula 1 considering 3.10pm race starts for 2018
Formula 1 race start times could be shifted back to 3.10pm at a majority of events from 2018 as part of an effort by the sport's owners Liberty Media to boost the television audience.
With Liberty determined to make its mark on the sport this year after spending its first year in charge evaluating it, it has emerged that F1 chiefs want to shake up the timetable.
One proposal that is being seriously considered is for the entire weekend schedule to be shifted back by one hour.
Multiple sources have revealed that this idea was raised with television broadcasters during a meeting with Liberty last week, and has also been discussed with teams.
This would mean typical European races would move away from the traditional 2pm start slot that they have held for decades.
Furthermore, there is the idea to move the races back a further 10 minutes – to start at 3.10pm – to help better fit with commercial television channel coverage, especially with the American audience and the need to run adverts before the start.
F1 representatives were not available for comment to confirm the latest situation regarding the potential change, but it has emerged that scope to alter the timetable in such a way has been opened up by tweaks to the F1 rules this year.
Changes to Articles 32 and 33 of F1's Sporting Regulations no longer specify the exact times of when free practice and qualifying will begin.
Instead they now state only there must be two practice sessions on the day after scrutineering that are separated "by at least two and a half hours".
It added a further practice session must take place the day before the race and the qualifying must only "take place on the day before the race and will start no less than two hours after the end of P3".
The timetable changes will only apply for events that ran to a normal day slot, with Singapore and Bahrain running to a full night race schedule and Abu Dhabi again expected to hold its event at dusk.
The start time of the French Grand Prix this year is also expected to be moved back another hour – to 4.10pm – in a bid to avoid a direct clash with the England versus Panama World Cup game that begins at 2pm French time.
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