Jean Todt has had quite a lot to say over the past week, and it is taking time for the myriad of topics to be written up properly. One of the ideas purported by the FIA president is that races should be moved from their 2pm CET schedule.
“Maybe we should decide that rather than the race at 1pm or 2pm in Europe during the summer, if you ask my opinion, I would prefer to have it at 6pm in the evening,” Todt told the Guardian. “That way people can then go to the beach, arrive home and see it.”
Of course changing the time of the core 7-8 European races have international implications for broadcasters and viewers elsewhere in the world.
NBC have been growing the Formula One audience in the USA since their acquisition of the broadcasting rights. At present European races are broadcast between 5am on the West Coast and 8am on the East Coast of America. Canada, Central and Southern America face similar live viewing times of day.
Europe is where the vast majority of the F1 TV audience is based and maybe a time slot four hours later in the day would see more families able to watch the race after their Sunday activities have ended.
For the America’s, European races would be then live between around 9am and 1pm.
This plan of Jean Todt’s on the surface appears fairly sensible.
Light may be an issue in Spring and Autumn and the current FIA regulated start time of no less than four hours before sunset would require amendment. Circuits may have to invest in floodlighting and the impact on race attendance is unclear.
At present many make post-race Sunday afternoon journeys home which take several hours. If this meant getting home in the early hours of Monday morning, the evening event may become less attractive.
There are those who believe Jean Todt’s early evening race schedule suggestion is merely designed to mess with Bernie Ecclestone’s head.
The FIA president also has some harsh words for Ecclestone, who recently described F1 as ‘crap’ and ‘shitty’. “If he has some complaints, which may be right, it’s something we should address internally and not make it public,” Todt states. “All the credit and money he has got, he deserves it, but I would hope he will be more positive about the product.”
“I know Bernie very well. I know he may tell you I am his best friend then five minutes later to somebody else I am the worst idiot he has met in his life. I live with that.
“The only thing is, I will not get into that. It just creates unnecessary gossip. I don’t have any problems with him getting more involved, as he has to if it is bringing something on board.
“If it is not constructive, you should not do it. But it is his style. Do I intend to change him? I don’t intend to change him.”
With the announcement of new bidders for the commercial rights to Formula One, something is definitely in the air. Add to this, Jean Todt has said more in public in one week about F1 than he usually does in a year.
Games of power are indeed afoot.
Then again, maybe Jean Todt has learned… he can be saying things in the media about F1 every week – yet still nothing will require a decision.