Australia set for start time change

The start time of the 2011 Australian Grand Prix is set to be brought forward, AUTOSPORT has learned, after FIA light tests at last week's race deemed it to be too dark

Australia set for start time change

Drivers had complained vociferously in Melbourne that the 5pm start time meant conditions were not bright enough in the closing stages of the race.

The FIA duly conducted light tests of the event and its findings showed that the brightness was below the minimum that is demanded for night race conditions.

It is understood that the FIA has recommended that the start time be moved in time for the 2011 event - which could mean the race start time shifting forward by up to one hour.

Michael Schumacher welcomed the fact that the FIA had stepped in with some official measurements in a bid to ensure safety for the drivers.

"I think somebody else decides whether we run at four or five or whatever time of the year. I just know that in Australia it was certainly over the limit," he said. "By the end of the race it was certainly too dark and I understand the FIA has measured this and will take action for next year.

"But at least there seem to be some guidelines now as to what light conditions you have to have as a minimum for the future."

Robert Kubica was happy by the fact the FIA had accepted it was too dark - and even suggested that the race take place early in the morning so as to be broadcast on Saturday evening in Europe.

"Last year when we had this big shift [of start time], we knew what the reason was. But then I say, let's do it early in the morning so it is Saturday evening in Europe.

"For a late start, it is risky if like today there will be big clouds and heavy rain and a lot of spray. I think after Australia we complained already twice. The FIA did some measurements and it is clear it is too dark for them - for the safety target they are putting. It is a serious problem and this year was very dark in Australia and the year before the sun was very low, which was very dangerous."

The start time of the race will have to be decided by Australian Grand Prix organisers in conjunction with Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.

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