During the 2018 Formula One season, European races could start one hour later than previous years, according to Ziggo Sports commentator Olav Mol. While the formation lap used to get underway at 1 PM local time, it is now reported that Liberty Media intends to push start times so the Grands Prix will begin at 2 PM.
Currently the bulk of the races on the calendar start at 14:00 local time, but Liberty Media believes pushing that back an hour could boost television audiences, whilst an additional 10-minute delay could be added to appease commercial broadcasters. Such a move is likely to prove particularly beneficial in the United States, where advert breaks are more common, and could allow for an extended race build-up. The new schedule would also mean European races are broadcast at a more favourable time in the United States – currently they start at 08:00 on the East coast and 05:00 on the West coast, which would shift to 09:10 and 06:10 respectively under these plans.
Races run at dusk/night, such as Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi are most likely to retain their current schedules. The proposal has already been presented to broadcasters and discussed with the teams, with a final decision expected in the coming weeks. The shift could also apply to the entire race weekend, with practice sessions and qualifying starting an hour later too; the tweaks could also have an influence on support acts Formula 2 and GP3, with their respective formats having been altered through 2017.
FOM will announce the final schedule with confirmed starting times next week. Liberty Media is also contemplating playing a soundtrack of music at occasional parts of the race, as well as a highlights reel to play at regular intervals during the live broadcast.