European F1 races starting 6pm gets Todt’s backing

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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.

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10 responses to “European F1 races starting 6pm gets Todt’s backing

  1. I’d be against moving the times for 2 reasons. First pointed out in the article already that the race attendance for European GPs would be impacted or make it less practical to come back late at night on Sunday.

    Second, this would totally kill the tv audience in the east, that is Asia. Currently the European GPs come nicely evening at bar time. But of course it depends which is considered more potential to grow the interest US or Asia. Most other business are looking into east for they money.

  2. “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.” – Napoleon

    I love this quote.

  3. I foresee some issues here, in fact I’m fairly sure in Italy the sunset will be before 8pm in September.

    I do enjoy evening races, means my sundays are more usable. Although in all honestly a 9am start would suit me perfectly. There’s always iPlayer and the like, saves me the hassle of streaming the Sky races.

  4. Is there consensus about this one, Jean?
    And how about in the bloody morning!? My family activities mostly start in the afternoon and end in the evening. This is no solution.

  5. Being in the western US it really makes no difference to me; I record the race and watch it later, fast-forwarding thru the commercials. No way am I going to watch it as it happens and have to sit thru those commercials.

  6. Depends on the viewing audience figures in the east compared to the West with Asia being a large part of modern F1. I think 4 pm CET/3pm BST would be a good time as shops usually shut mid afternoon so, people in Europe could go home and watch the race. Plus, the time would be better for American audiences, whilst not affectig Asia too badly (Tokyo 10pm rather than 8pm).

  7. I really doubt that most of the people who spent their Sunday on a beach still have enough attention or physical strength to watch a race in the evening. Moreover, many will be busy doing laundry for the following week. Usually, people interested in the Sunday sports, prefer to see those early in the day. Moreover, what’s wrong with watching a recording of an F1 race in the evening?

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