Look, I don’t have a knife in the fight over when Formula 1 races start but I will say that I do understand the AsiaPac races starting later to accommodate European prime time sensibilities and while F1 has never given a hot damn about North American viewing times, I assume getting those grumpy Europeans in bed at a sensible hour is a good thing.
Sitting on a couch in a Snuggie hunched over a cup of coffee while trying to fumble the TV on in the twilight of a new day is a typical F1 experience for the American fan but Claire Williams reckons F1 should start later in the day. She gets my endorsement if we can get the races on later than 5am.
“You could cut the two-hour race [limit] to an hour, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll bring about change. I think it’s more important when we’re broadcasting our races,” she said.
“The way that society is now people want to spend time with the family and doing something together, and actually giving up your whole Sunday, which you have to do to watch a Formula 1 race, completely clobbers your whole day.
“If we moved it to later on in the afternoon, you go out, you do your day with your family, you come home and watch the grand prix at 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon. Those kind of considerations are the questions to ask first.”
To be honest, things are different on this side of the pond. The thought of having a leisurely day with the family at your uncle’s Shriner induction ceremony at noon and then hopping over to see a race just isn’t really the kind of scenario that plays out if I’m honest.
In America, you have to travel long distances (for most people) in order to get to the speed paradise that is Circuit of the Americas (COTA). That’s not COTA’s fault, they have a world-class facility in a toddling town of pathological weirdness. It’s the stark reality that America is huge! It’s 3,000 miles, give or take, from coast to coast and to get to COTA from any major population center such as New York, Los Angeles or Tecumseh Iowa, you have to travel a long way, sojourn and then travel more.
As such, you’re all in for the weekend. From Friday to Sunday, you’re there to do one thing…watch F1. Now, that isn’t to say that you won’t partake of some local frivolity but the race is the real attraction and every session is on your calendar.
Perhaps in Europe you can attend the annual cheese rolling contest or the world toe-wrestling contest and still manage to hop over to an F1 race but in America, that dog don’t hunt.
Hey, if making the races later in Europe helps our old world brethren out, then I’m all for it. The knock-on effect is that instead of watching the race in a near-sleep stupor, I can actually wake up and catch all the action over a pop tart and egg McMuffin at the breakfast table and my wouldn’t that be appealing?
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1