Five grands prix will start an hour earlier this season in the wake of recommendations passed on following Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident in Japan last year.
The Frenchman’s life-threatening crash in fading light and heavy rain in his Marussia resulted in the swift formation of the FIA Accident Panel, with luminaries such as Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and Emerson Fittipaldi on board.
One of the Panel’s suggestions was that of the four-hour rule whereby ’the start time of an event shall not be less than four hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races’.
In the past, a number of races have started in mid-to-late afternoon to accommodate early morning television audiences across Europe.
But given Bianchi’s accident, and following negotiations with the circuits involved, the races in Australia, Malaysia, China, Japan and Russia have all been brought back an hour.
The release of the FIA’s start-time information means the season-opener at Melbourne’s Albert Park will now begin at 4pm local time (5am GMT), with the Malaysian Grand Prix starting at 15.00 local (07.00 GMT).
The other three grands prix in China, Japan and Russia will commence at 14.00 local time, resulting in respective GMT times of 6am, 5am and 11am.