Formula 1 has today announced a raft of changes to their weekend schedule, ahead of the 2018 Formula One season.
The changes include starting every race at ten minutes past the hour. Formula 1 says this change will cater for broadcasters, such as new American broadcaster ESPN, who wish to start their coverage at the top of the hour. Previously, broadcasters who joined on the hour, missed “the tension and emotion that characterize the minutes before the start of each Grand Prix.”
A second adjustment involves moving European race weekends, and the Brazilian Grand Prix back by one hour which, according to Formula 1 will allow the sport to reach a “wider TV audience [..] later in the afternoons, especially in the summer months.”
An unintended impact, which no one has mentioned, is that the later start time will result in the podium ceremony potentially running over the top of the hour, especially for races such as Hungary. Bad news for broadcasters who want F1 confined to a specific two hour time slot…
How do the changes impact UK fans?
It means that European races will start at 14:10, instead of 13:00, an arrangement which dated back to the late 1990’s. Monaco was historically the exception, races in the principality started at 14:30 local time, however this agreement ended following the 1997 season.
As predicted in December, the French Grand Prix has also moved to avoid clashing with England versus Panama in the football World Cup. The race will now start at 15:10 UK time, with the latter stages of the race clashing with Japan versus Senegal on BBC One.
Although not a timing change for this year, the switch of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to late-April, has resulted in a minor clash with the Paris E-Prix. It means that the final moments of qualifying are likely to overlap with the start of the E-Prix, however thankfully for Formula E, that is the extent of the clashes.
For MotoGP, the Assen TT and British Grand Prix fall on the same day as Formula 1’s Austrian and Belgium rounds. In previous years, MotoGP has worked around F1’s scheduling, with the British MotoGP race starting at 15:30. However, Formula 1 may have done Dorna a favour. By moving their start-time to 14:10 UK time, it means the MotoGP main event could feasibly start at 13:00 UK time with no overlap, barring a red flag or other unusual circumstances.
Elsewhere, Channel 4’s highlights programming for the European rounds and Brazil may air an hour later, depending on what the contract between them and F1 states, starting at 19:00 instead of the usual 17:30 or 18:00 start time. Formula 1’s press release makes no reference to Formula Two or GP3, although one would hope that they benefit because of this change, and become more integrated into F1’s weekend activities.