MARCH 20, 2007

How to go night racing in daylight!

The Australian Grand Prix can be run at night - but without the need to have lights. Australia's Motorsport News has come up with a most interesting theory about the future of the event, suggesting that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place in January 2009 and that Melbourne could happen in February. The city has its traditional Australian Open Tennis competition in mid-late January but there are then no major sporting events until the Grand Prix in March. This means that moving to race February would be possible to get away from the start of the Australian Football Season and other events. The advantage of doing this is that rather than being an autumn race, it will be held in the summer and that means that the days are longer and it is light until 10pm at night.

Starting a Grand Prix at 8pm in Melbourne in February would mean that the race would be live on TV at 10 o'clock in the morning in the major European TV markets. And would mean that the audience would be many times bigger than the current situation which sees the race taking place at four o™clock in the morning.

As F1 races are restricted to two hours in duration the light will be fine and everyone will be happy, not least because the race authorities will not have to pay out huge sums of money to use floodlighting. It will also open the way for more people to go to the event as those who want to do other activities during the daylight hours can then turn up for the race in the warm of the evening.

The logic of the idea is perfect and would fit in with the idea of an extended F1 season, which is suggested by a countdown to be found on the official Abu Dhabi Grand Prix website ( which indicates that the race there will take place on Saturday, January 31 2009.

At the moment the Formula 1 teams have an agreement that restricts the length of the F1 season but it makes a lot of sense to reduce pre-season testing and extend the calendar to give a better year-round footprint for the sport. The top teams now all have their cars ready in mid-January and there is no reason why racing should not happen between the end of January and the end of October rather than from March to October.

The more races there are the more money everyone makes.

It may be that there will be a real night race in Singapore from September 2008 onwards, but that city has the advantage of having street lighting already in place.

If Melbourne had to pay for a similar idea, it is not likely to happen.