Australian F1 chief keen on night race
Admits it would take years of planning
Melbourne (AFP) – The chairman of the Australian Grand Prix has said he is keen on the event changing to a nighttime race but admitted on Thursday it would take years of planning.
A handful of F1 races currently held under artificial lights, including Singapore and Abu Dhabi, saw global TV ratings boosted by the spectacle, Paul Little said.
"I'd love to not rule out a night Grand Prix," he told the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper. "I just think if we could make that work, that would be amazing. An amazing spectacle but also great for reaching the rest of the F1 audience."
A night race would be more favourable for European and US audiences. "There is no question more people would watch it if they could see it live at a reasonable hour on the other side of the world," Little said.
"So I think we will continue to explore the viability and the capability of doing that." Sunday's grand prix, the third of the season, is due to start in Melbourne's Albert Park at 3 pm, but has previously been run as late as 5 pm.
While it could be held at night, getting the infrastructure in place to make it happen would not be easy, given the expense, Little said. "As it is today, we couldn't run a night race even if we wanted one without a significant amount of work to put lighting in place."
Little also suggested the Melbourne race could be extended to five or six days of events and entertainment in the future, compared to its current official four-day programme.
"I do see it growing," he said. "I think it will continue to get bigger than just a couple of days of motor racing for sure." The Australian Grand Prix is traditionally one of the drivers' favourites and also one of the most popular, with nearly 420,000 spectators pouring into Albert Park last year -- a record for the country.