2015 F1

FIA wants F1 2015 Australian GP to start earlier

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The world governing body of motorsport wants the start of the 2015 Australian GP shifted back at least four hours.

If it gets its way, the Grand Prix would begin mid-afternoon, instead of the current 5pm designed to maximise TV audiences in Europe.

But Australian Grand Prix chiefs are adamant the race start time will not change.

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, commissioned a report to investigate why French driver Jules Bianchi suffered life-threatening head injuries in the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

The 10-member panel, headed by FIA safety commission president Peter Wright, made seven recommendations in its 396-page report — including shifting the starting times.

“It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the start time of an event shall not be less than four hours before either sunset or dusk,” the report says.

Only night races with lights on tracks would be exempt.

The Albert Park race carnival runs March 12-15.

For several years, the main race has begun at 5pm to cater for TV audiences in Asia and Europe. Shifting the Melbourne start back would affect TV ratings in Europe, where the race would instead be aired at sunrise.

Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott said the Melbourne start time was set in stone.

“The race time will remain at 5pm as per agreement with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Formula One management, which means Melbourne, as the opening race of the season, airs in Asia at lunchtime and Europe at breakfast,” he said. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has long urged organisers to follow the lead of hosts such as Singapore and switch to a floodlit circuit.

However, Victoria’s Government has refusedas the event already costs taxpayers about $50 million each year.

The former Napthine government last year renewed its contract until 2020. (Herald Sun)

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