Bernie Ecclestone has strongly hinted that controversial evening races will stay on the F1 calendar for the foreseeable future. The FOM Chairman told the Independent that the TV viewing figures in Europe had risen by so much they justified the inclusion of the late-start races in Australia and the Far East.
“All our TV figures up to now have been up 300 per cent. We have been getting more than 50 per cent of the market share,” said the 78-year-old.
Viewing figures had been Ecclestone’s primary motivation for moving the start time for the Australian and Malaysian races in particular, and it appears that his strategy has paid off. However, many drivers spoke out about the difficulties of racing with shadows playing across the track in Australia and the conditions in Malaysia this year caused the race to be abandoned.
Furthermore, a MotoGP night race had to be postponed by 24 hours earlier this month after riders pronounced the glare of the lights on the wet tarmac impossible to contend with. The first F1 night race was held in Singapore last season, and F1 is yet to experience a wet night race, which could have serious implications for driver safety.
It is thought that a compromise will be reached on start time to prevent the possibility of more races being abandoned.