Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was in the Monza paddock on Saturday and spoke late in the afternoon on a number of subjects. One of them was the idea of refreshing the format of F1 Grands Prix, so they are shorter and start later in the day.
Currently a Grand Prix is 300 kilometres, which can take anything from 75 minutes to almost two hours in the case of Singapore. There have been calls in the past to make F1 races shorter or to split them into two events. Many casual fans who are interested but not hooked, often say that they watch the start then tune in later to see what happened. Would they stay to watch the whole race if it was on at the end of the day and lasted only an hour?
Races are largely timed to go off at 1pm UK time, 2pm European time, but Montezemolo says that scheduling them later in the afternoon would increase the potential audience. However this would move the schedule in the Far East, where F1 now has six races and sees the most growth potential, into the early hours of the morning.
However there is no doubt that the manjor TV companies would like the races to start later. I remember introducing one controller of ITV Sport to Sir Frank Williams and when Williams asked him what one thing would he like to change about F1 he said, “Move all the race start times to 5pm”.
Monzemolo is thinking about the younger audience,
“Looking at young people, the races are too long,” he said. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think that we have to look very carefully what we can do to improve the show of Formula One. I give you one example: one hour and a half for the young, it’s a long time. Maybe why don’t we do a test and we do two starts?
“I don’t think it’s good to race in July and August at two o’clock in the afternoon, when the people are at the sea and on vacation,” he added.
“If you look at a sport like soccer, they play six o’clock, seven o’clock, eight o’clock.”
“Maybe it is a mistake, but we have to think of something, we cannot stay always the same…we have to be innovative without losing the F1 DNA. Maybe it’s better to maintain the races as they are, or maybe it’s time to change.”
This is all part of the power struggle behind the scenes at the moment involving the FIA’s part in running the sport, with Bernie Ecclestone and the teams looking to take over the rule making and other areas of the sport, while the FIA are seeking a greater financial return on the sport it owns. I’ll post on that in more depth.
*What do you think? Should races be on later and run shorter?