Site logo

Williams suggests start time change to bring back the fans


As F1 seeks to keep its current fans on board, far less win over new ones, Claire Williams suggests changing race start times.

Thankfully, the resurgence of Ferrari, and the slow but steady improvement from Williams itself, suggests that Mercedes will not enjoy the sort of domination witnessed in 2013.

Nonetheless, it is clear from the empty grandstand seats at races over the last couple of years, falling TV viewing figures and comments on social media that the fans are not happy.

Whilst Bernie Ecclestone believes it is the new formula, and Mercedes obvious success in adapting to it, is the reason for the sport's decline in popularity, Claire Williams suggests otherwise, claiming that the timing of races doesn't help the sport.

Asked on the Sky Sport F1 Show whether races should be limited to one-hour in length, a suggestion that Flavio Briatore and Luca di Montezemolo subscribed to, the Williams team boss replied: "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.

"The way that society is now people want to spend time with the family and do something together," she continued, "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."

Of course, speaking to a British broadcaster, Williams is focussing on broadcast times in UK and Europe, which, despite Bernie Ecclestone's efforts to remove from the calendar in terms of races, remains the sport's heartland.

Nonetheless, of all the reasons seen and heard by us in terms of the reason for F1's demise, the Sunday afternoon start time is a new one on us.

Indeed, we are minded of the old joke about a football club on the slide. A fan phones the ticket office and asks: "What time does the match kick-off?" "What time can you get here?" comes the reply.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



1. Posted by Switcher99, 02/05/2015 0:13

"The Sunday afternoon start time may be a new worry to you, but, especially over recent seasons, I have been loathe to give up my Sundays to watch what is really a poor excuse for Grand Prix racing. A later start or even dare I say it, Saturday races with qualifying in the morning might be worth considering."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by oilburner, 30/04/2015 16:45

"Jim L - cable is not a given cost in the USA anymore. For anyone under 35 - which is a demographic F1 is going to need to rope in, it's a foregone conclusion that they're already looking at ways to cut ties with cable if they haven't already. The minute Sling puts NBCsn on I'm there (given, it's owned by Dish but is as close to a-la carte Cable as there is).

As for later starts - that would dramatically help the US market. East coasters get 7am starts but that's a 4am race on the west coast. Yes there are DVR's but if you want to make it an event for this market at least make the west coast start times ~6-7am. that's a 3-4pm euro start, do-able."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Jim L, 29/04/2015 13:56


True, I pay for cable, but that is a given cost in the USA. The pay-for-view in the USA would be like a
one time outrageous price ($100.00) for the heavyweight fight this weekend. I would not pay
an additional fee above my current cable cost to see an F1 race on a pay-per-view basis.
BTW, I think in the past NBC/FOX have broadcast some F1 races over-the-air."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by SideGlance, 29/04/2015 5:49

"WOW! I guess Europeans have not heard of DVRs (digital video recorder) or VCR (you know) and/or discipline (watch a later rebroadcast or your recording at night after family in bed) ? OR are all Europeans not tech savvy or too poor OR only watch at a pub (great fun I agree) ?

I, for one, do NOT believe in 'the force', that a person watching on TV, live or recorded, makes ANY difference to the outcome of the race/game - 'If I cheer the team they will win, I am part of 'the force' of humanity and we will WILL them to victory' !! Silly beliefs there ppl !! Feel the force Luke, it is NOT there!!

I have watched many 'sports' both live and recorded, and NO MATTER if I am cheering 'real time' or 6 hrs after over, it is the SAME enjoyment/heart-ache to me!!

But then I do not skip family events to go watch, well, anything, but set up me trusty DVR and record the 'thing' and get on with my life & watch when I can or want to - days later even !!

Oh, and guess what?! Movies are not being made while you watch either !!!

I have a few recordings from the last olympics to still watch !!!! ;)

Europeans, a bit SELF-CENTERED are we ??"

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Joop deBruin, 29/04/2015 1:53

"Decade..... Pay cable extra package for a decade."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Joop deBruin, 29/04/2015 1:52

"Jim L. F1 has been mostly pay TV in the US for well over a debate. Can you pick it up using an antenna from a local station? Nooooo!"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by gturner38, 28/04/2015 23:58

"There's a bit of irony in that comment because Indycar typically runs races that wrap up around 6:00 local time and that has been cited as a reason for their poor attendance since it impacts people who travel longer distances to go to the race.

Oh, and as for comparing F1 and Indycar at a common track, Mike Conway pointed out that his Toyota LMP1 car has wider tires, more downforce, and more power than his Indycar. The fastest LMP1s are as quick as the very back of last year's F1 grid, which would put them a further second behind this year's grid. That suggests to me that Indycar is basically on pace with GP2."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by alfsboy, 28/04/2015 22:51

"Quite a few years ago I was strolling down the paddock at one of Silverstones fabulous 3 day tyre tests .I was chatting to the boss of a tyre supplier when coming towards us was a bunch of shiny suited flash sun glassed men .They looked way out of place at that time.My companion said in his brummie accent " Oh f*** ,those *******s are getting in the paddock .That will f*** it all for good ".How right he was .Its been down hill ever since .Now the sport is run to please them ,not us ."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by chessedflag, 28/04/2015 14:51

"In america all the races went at 7am in the good old days, and I never missed one. Just woke up early for a sunday and never had conflicts with other activities
Follow the NBA, matches are very late. In Soccer, important matches are scheduled in the night"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by TokyoAussie, 28/04/2015 14:43

"Moving the race start time to later in the day only works in one or two time zones. The rest of the world gets to watch it at a completely different time of day. To wit, the world is round, Claire.

It isn't the new formula. There are lots of problems and issues with the formula, but people don't not go to the race because of the formula, Bernie.

And it most certainly isn't that the race is too long. Back in the day, there were 2 sessions on Thursday, and a warm up on race day morning. These days, the engine and tyre restrictions mean that there is even less running than ever. We don't need even less by cutting races in half, Luca.

I don't speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but the reason I don't go to watch the races in person anymore is that I cannot justify the expense. The cost of attending is off-the-chart crazy for an individual. I could never take my kid, so there is one less fan for the future right there.

Luckily, the country I live in still has a race, but as the races disappear to Outer Mongolia, there won't be races to go to at all, even if the expense could be justified.

It's all about the race venue and value for money. For years, the value has been going down, while the cost has been going up (fast). That is where the problem is, but that would be too logical for consideration. Just blame the time zone, the formula, the length of the race, and any other random brain fart explanation."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by Jim L, 28/04/2015 14:15

"I agree 100% with the posts by Tony Soprano and Carsten B. so no need to rehash that. I am also on the east coast of the USA so later starts would still be okay, arriving at noon, still giving you the afternoon to do other things.
My only comment is that with the ridiculous state that F1 is now in, it makes the Indy Car series looks like it's run by motorsport geniuses. Simple engines, standard chassis, push-to-pass, etc.
I wounder how F1 vs. Indy Car lap times would compare on a common race track?
I attended almost every F1 race at Watkins Glen, Mosport.
If F1 ever goes pay-per-view in the USA, I'm out."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

12. Posted by Max Noble, 28/04/2015 14:08

"On this one I think Williams are missing the point. I don't see the Tour de France fretting about the race taking three weeks to complete, and some stages exceeding five hours. And as noted by folk below, the majority of us can record to watch at leisure as a time that suits that day. NASCAR races take forever to finish, yet it is incredibly popular in the U.S. with casual and hard-core fans alike.
This appears to be an answer seeking a question. "

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

13. Posted by Hondawho?, 28/04/2015 13:03

"Two 25 lap races, no pit stops, everyone going balls out to win; free tyre choice (even more than one type company maybe) etc etc that will being back supporters and also offer more TV coverage of course.

Yes I know it ain't that easy but what is, letting TV audiences drift off?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

14. Posted by Tony Soprano, 28/04/2015 12:55

"The start time is irrelevant. Fans have watched on TV and attended in person for years until Ecclestone started taking the show to these ridiculous Tilke tracks in countries with no connection to F1, no fan base, no support just to get his multi-millions from despots and dictators. Here in the US (east coast) I watch races from Australia as early as 3 AM. It's not the time of day that's the problem - it's Bernie Ecclestone!
Losing races in France and Portugal so we Turkey and India and Korea can try to convince the world that they've "made it", that they matter now because they have F1 has driven away the traditional fans. Ecclestone's view that if the despots can pay absurd sanctioning fees then everyone should has driven ticket prices through the roof and in countries where there are few fans we see empty stands.
Ecclestone has to go and his replcaement has to return F1 to its roots in Europe. We the fans need more races in the EU, not fewer. AND AZERBAIJAN IS NOT EUROPE!!!!!!!
We the fans need to take back our sport! And we can do it. No sport can last without fans. We should use the social media that Bernie hates to organize a real boycott (TV alone will suffice) to not watch just one F1 race and let the sponsors (team and TV sponsors alike) know that we're doing it. If the TV ratings fall to near zero for just one race and the powers that be see that WE made that happen maybe the sponsors will exert their influence to get rid of Ecclestone. I assume that in the EU things work somewhat like they do with TV in the US where the TV ad time is sold based on an assumed likely viewing audience but if the actual audience is less the broadcaster has to refund money. Can you imagine the screaming if NBC Sports has to give back a ton of money? If anything like what I'm suggesting happened changes would be made. And WE can make that happen. We don't want to hurt the event promoters and fans have already bought tickets for EU races so there's no need for fans to stay home. WE the fans just have to turn off our TVs for one race (watch the replay the next day) AND we need to make sure the sponsor world knows we're doing it! I'm not tech-savvy enough to set up a page on Facebook (I don't even understand twitter) but I do understand the power of social media and OUR power to use it. I hope some reading this knows social media well enough and is as committed to taking back our sport as I am and can start the ball rolling. WE CAN DO THIS!"

Rating: Positive (7)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

15. Posted by Brycevr, 28/04/2015 12:16

"Of all the people on the pit wall I respect Claire and Ron Dennis above anyone. They have the racing in their blood, not corporate reporting or return on investment. Sadly there are too few racers left in the game.
Both Williams and Mclaren base their core business on their racing and other ventures are by-products, every other team has an agenda with a corporate entity. I'd marry Claire in a heartbeat just for her energy and honesty. She's her fathers daughter alright, she's a racer not a corporate negotiator. If the grid was formed by people like her then there would be a good competition with racers racing racers, not a spending race among the rich."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms