Later Grand Prix start times on the agenda for 2018

Start times for many of this year’s Formula 1 Grand Prix races might be pushed back by over an hour from their traditional 2pm slot.

The move is being considered by Formula 1’s new commercial rights holders as a way of boosting TV viewership figures.

Currently, all European races start at the same time they have for decades. But these local timings are under review for 2018, according to the latest reports.

The new preferred race start time would be 3.10pm. The extra ten minute offset works better with TV schedules, allowing coverage to start on the hour with a brief introduction and advertisement break before lights out.

Reports say that Liberty has raised the possibility in meetings with broadcasters this week. Teams have also been consulted.

Free practice and qualifying may also be rescheduled by an hour.

Recent changes to the Sporting Regulations no longer specify exact times for them. The rules only stipulate that two practice sessions “at least two and a half hours” apart must be held on the day after scrutineering (Thursday.)

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A further one-hour practice session is also stipulated for the day before the race itself. After that, qualifying “will start no less than two hours after the end of P3”.

The mooted changes will generally only apply to race weekends currently operating according to a normal daytime timetable. However, the French Grand Prix will likely be a one-off exception and start as late as 4pm to avoid clashing with a key FIFA World Cup match on June 24.

Singapore will keep to its night time schedule, with Bahrain possibly becoming the second race on the calendar to be held fully after dark.

Currently the Bahrain Grand Prix is staged at twilight, starting in the sunshine and finishing under floodlights. But Liberty is keen to delay the current start time by two hours to better suit the US broadcast schedules.

Abu Dhabi is expected to stick to its current dusk timing for the season finale on November 25.

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