The season-opening Australian Grand Prix is among five races which will start an hour earlier than planned as race bosses react to Jules Bianchi’s crash in Japan last year.
Last week it was reported Malaysian Grand Prix race organisers wanted to start the race an hour earlier and that has been confirmed on a document released by Formula One Management (FOM), with the list confirming Australia, China, Japan and Russia have followed suit. In previous years races in Asia, along with the curtain-raiser in Australia, have started in late mid-afternoon slots to make viewing more convenient for F1’s core European TV audience.
But change has been triggered by the serious crash suffered by Marussia driver Bianchi at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, when the Frenchman slid off the road in worsening rain and fading light and into a recovery vehicle. The FIA’s accident panel which looked into the crash suggested a new four-hour rule, which would ensure a race would not start within four hours of dusk or sunset to ensure similar conditions having an impact on safety in the future.