Later start times for F1 in Europe? Who cares?

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

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Doesn’t help me.

manny petty

Don’t most people own a DVR at this point? I, for one, could never make it through an entire race watching it in real time here in the US because of the ridiculous number of commercials. Last season, I actually documented the commercial breaks for a number of races and came to the realization that, once the races had gotten going, NBCSN ran two minutes of commercials about every five or six minutes. That translates to roughly 30 minutes out of a 1.5 – 1.75 hr race, or a full 1/3 of the action being missed in favor of ads!… Read more »

Matthew Chad Lusk

Exactly… It’s hard for me to believe that corporations still put commercials on TV. They do realize we fast-forward right through them….

Tom Firth

Ok, this is for both yourself and @Manny Petty, and I apologise for going off track on the thread, its sort of relevant though. I can’t answer every question, the one I can answer is on DVR adoption and why corporations still advertise on TV. The simple answer is that whilst DVR adoption is relatively high, it has remained stagnant since 2011 in the UK, and with minimal growth in the USA. The adoption is 70% in the UK, 49% in the US (Up 1% on 2013) however the issue with DVR’s is that whilst the technology has become adopted,… Read more »


The organisers of the Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill and the World Toe Wrestling Championship must be F1 fans, as they have carefully avoided holding their events on Sundays, just so they can watch the races :-) However with the Cheese Rolling taking place on the Monday Following the Monaco race, it is still near enough 1000 miles to travel between the events, and would take 15 hours to drive, so you wouldn’t make the 12:00 event start (perhaps flying may be the answer?).,+Monaco-Ville,+Monaco/Cheese-Rolling+at+Cooper's+Hill,+Gloucester+GL3+4SB,+United+Kingdom/@47.5209415,-2.1132861,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x12cdc28bfa733ce7:0x1002d8bbd550b626!2m2!1d7.421265!2d43.73663!1m5!1m1!1s0x48710ff568f86dbf:0x46f1d63a6688f4ca!2m2!1d-2.157161!2d51.8318?hl=en The Toe Wrestling is due on the Thursday after the Canadian race, so… Read more »


I used to follow the cheese rolling series pretty heavily until Gouda-gate.

Tom Firth

Well …

Tom Firth

Right before it turns into an argument and everyone goes to different places anyway …


Did you know at spa it can be nighttime at one end of the track and daytime at another?!


“a toddling town of pathological weirdness” – could you expand on that?

Negative Camber

Austin’s mantra is “Keep Austin weird”.


And on the whole post: Claire Williams talked about watching an F1 race on TV, whereas you’re talking about travelling to a race to watch it trackside – and while Europe may be smaller than the US, it’s not THAT small. You may be able in the eastern US states to enjoy the British GP over a nice breakfast, but over here on the European side of the pond it’s a whole weekend of travelling for most of the people watching trackside. Ok more of the respective countries’ population (compared to the US) lives within a radius of a few… Read more »

Negative Camber

I think I cover the fact that we’re speaking of TV when I suggest that I sit on the couch at 6am with a cup of coffee to watch. I also talk of attending the race for those who do so. It’s not that easy here. That doesn’t mean its easy where ever you are but I know many folks who live a couple hours from a race on that side of the pond. Some folks live a couple hours from two or more races. Whether attending or watching, it doesn’t impact us that much here. Watching races is a… Read more »


I wouldnt change it, watching races DVR’ed overnight with breakfast and a cup of coffee is part of the experience for me. In a weird way i miss watching it alone, becuase i got a bunch of other south floridians into f1 (We even were at the Miami ePrix)