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Why F1 is having a lightbulb moment

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Why F1 is having a lightbulb moment
Oct 10, 2015, 8:16 AM

The man responsible for delivering the Grand Prix track in Sochi, Richard Cregan, has said that he expects that the Russian Grand Prix will be a ni...

The man responsible for delivering the Grand Prix track in Sochi, Richard Cregan, has said that he expects that the Russian Grand Prix will be a night race in 2017, adding to a growing trend for F1 races to happen at night under artificial lights.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live in Sochi, the Irishman said that with the race moving to a May 1 slot next year, this does not leave enough time to switch the artificial lights on for 2016.

However he believes that in 2017 the race will mirror Abu Dhabi, another venue he was responsible for building, as a twilight to night race. It is expected that the race would start at 7pm local time, which is 5pm in the UK and 6pm in Europe.

Still over 60% of the global TV audience for F1 is based in Europe, despite the best efforts to grow the audience in the rest of the world and a migration away from traditional race tracks in the European heartland.

Richard Cregan

"The discussions are getting quite serious, we have been in touch with the various companies that supply the lighting," said Cregan in the BBC 5 Live F1 Podcast. "Because of the date change next year, May 1, that's looking too tight to manage it, but 2017 is a real possibility that you'll be looking at either a day night race or a night race. I think timing wise it works out very well."

"It (a night race) would allow us to showcase the Olympic Park, which would clearly be illuminated."

Since Singapore came onto the calendar in 2008 as F1's first night race, the trend of racing under artificial lights has developed with Abu Dhabi starting as a twilight/night race and Bahrain moving to a night race in 2014 with positive results. The cars look good under the lights and in some cases, like Bahrain, the lower temperatures seem to improve the competition with both Bahrain night races providing close racing.

Bahrain GP

For European broadcasters the opportunity to put races on TV after 5pm on a Sunday significantly increases the available audience. With three races now in the US time zones in Montreal, Austin and Mexico plus potentially a fourth night race, it means that almost half the calendar is now moving towards a late afternoon or evening slot in Europe. This will help to compensate for some of the drop off in viewer numbers due to the rights moving to Pay TV broadcasters like SKY, Canal Plus and Movistar.

What do you think of F1's night races? Do you prefer them? Leave your comments below and take part in our poll

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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation