Formula 1 CEO says Australian GP start time could be changed

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has acknowledged that turning the Australian Grand Prix into a night race “could be attractive.”

The Formula 1 paddock is in Melbourne for the third round of the 2023 season around the Albert Park Circuit, with Red Bull looking to extend its lead over its rivals.

Speaking ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has floated the idea of turning the event into a night race, making the start time more friendly for Europeans.

At a SportNXT conference, Domenicali revealed that the topic has been discussed by Formula 1 officials, as it’s a matter of the scale of investment they can draw in through the race.

“It could be attractive. When you’re planning for so long, you can really think what is the best to create new products. You never know. It would be important to understand the implications,” he said.

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Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott seemed to downplay the chance of changing the start time, claiming that a day race suits Melbourne better.

“Because of the attractiveness that each single city provides and contributes to the championship, Melbourne’s place as an afternoon race on a Sunday works beautifully… but you never say never in Formula 1,” Westacott said.

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The Albert Park Circuit has already undergone a significant alteration from previous iterations of the race, with the addition of a fourth DRS adding to the fast paced nature of the street circuit. 

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“We know obviously that Melbourne is usually a very difficult track to overtake, so if you can increase the overtaking opportunities, increase the racing, make it slightly more entertaining and a bit more racing on that track, I think that’s definitely positive,” Alpine’s Pierre Gasly said.

The fourth DRS zone was added ahead of last year’s race along the Lakeside Drive straight between turns nine and ten but was taken out before the lights went green over safety concerns.