Teams consider further changes to format

Formula 1 team principals met at Hockenheim to discuss ways to simultaneously cut costs and spice up the F1 show. On the agenda were two-day meetings, significant changes to the event timing, with races held later in the day to gain a bigger TV audience, and reduced testing

Teams consider further changes to format

Some time ago, it was proposed that grands prix should officially be two-day events with Friday used as a free testing day. Now, however, the feeling is that to do that would still involve using engine mileage and a full complement of personnel, so costs would not be reduced. If two-day meetings are adopted, it is thus unlikely that cars will be on-track on Fridays.

The possibility of moving the race time has been prompted by TV figures which show much greater audiences for races such as Brazil and Canada, which are televised early Sunday evening in Europe rather than in the afternoon. In Germany, for instance, the audience trebles for those races.

"If the audience is there, maybe we should move the race it," McLaren chief Ron Dennis admitted. "We may have to go home later and get out of bed earlier, but that's not a problem for motor racing people."

The downside though, is that F1 would be competing against stronger TV programming in the early evenings. A later race time could also dovetail with Sunday morning final qualifying, spicing up the action for spectators at the track on race day, especially now that teams are not permitted to work on the cars between qualifying and race, thereby removing much of the previous objection to same-day qualifying and racing.

Reduced testing twinned with significantly more racing (a potential 18-race calendar, see separate story) is likely to meet with resistance, however. Racing is expensive and teams are obliged to take part, whereas their testing programme is their own decision.

Dennis also cautioned against over-saturation: "I find it strange that there is football on TV at this time of the year. You need a break; the human element of F1 needs a break and so does the consumer. If it's on every weekend, people lose interest. We should still have that three to four month break at the end and beginning of the season."

The various proposals are due to be considered by Bernie Ecclestone and the implications thought through prior to further discussion.

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