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Races to start earlier

NEWS STORY
20/01/2015

In the wake of Jules Bianchi's crash in Japan, a number of races this season will start earlier than in 2014.

Last week, Sepang boss Razlan Razali revealed that moving the race start time of the Malaysian Grand Prix was under consideration.

"Mr Ecclestone mentioned that because of the Suzuka incident the FIA has some time limit," he told Reuters. "So he is reviewing to move the start to the original time.

"For us it's good," he admitted. "It's a safer time bracket, now people can come in for lunch, watch the race and about five o'clock they can go back home. He mentioned the possibility (of an earlier start). We said if you want to go back to 15:00 we fully support it."

With Razali confirming that plans to shift the Sepang event to a 'night race' had been abandoned, several days later organisers at Sochi confirmed that a similar move in terms of the Russian Grand Prix had been shelved.

"This year the Grand Prix will start at 2:00 p.m," said Sergey Vorobyev. "We will have an opportunity to watch the race one day and one hour earlier than we did last year. A lot of motorsport fans are already making flight reservations for the Grand Prix, so this news will allow them to effectively plan their race weekend".

Indeed, it has now been revealed that five of the races on the 2015 calendar have been moved forward one hour - including the three opening events in Australia, Malaysia and China - in addition to Japan (and Russia).

The ever-later start times in recent years were at the behest of Bernie Ecclestone (who else?) who wanted to ensure the best possible TV viewing figures in Europe whilst events were taking place on the other side of the world.

However, in the wake of Jules Bianchi's accident at Suzuka, where failing light was one of the contributory factors, the F1 supremo appears to have seen the light.

Of course, fans of a certain age - according to Ecclestone, F1's target audience - will remember the days when the Grand Prix was followed by another race or two, in Britain this usually meant a round of the Touring Car championship, but that was then.

Chris Balfe

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