Many drivers complained last weekend of the effect the low levels of light was having on their ability to safely navigate their way around the Albert Park track. According to some, Nico Rosberg being the most vocal, the glare from the sun and the shadows cast of the track made racing a lot harder. At some points around the lap, the mirrors were useless and drivers were forced to adjust the tints on their helmets.
The Australian Grand Prix was pushed back to a 5pm local-time start. The reasons behind pushing the start time of the race back is to accommodate Bernie Ecclestone and his wishes to make races available at a more convenient time for his key television market, Europe.
However, with the sun lower in the sky, it meant that often the drivers were thundering forwards with little vision as they were blinded by the light. And when they were travelling in the opposite direction, the mirrors became useless for the same reason. Although some might argue that with the vibrations and the fact that some teams place their mirrors far out on the sidepods, the mirrors are pretty useless anyway.
However, glorious sunshine isn’t the only problem. As the circus travels to Malaysia for this weekend’s grand prix, Rosberg has pointed out that should it rain over Sepang, the conditions could be even worse. Last year we saw how dark it was in Brazil when the drivers finally took the chequered flag. For the first time in my memory, the lights had to be turned on for the podium celebration. However, the Brazilian Grand Prix was held at a more regular time. Sepang is due to commence at 5pm and the area is prone to flash monsoons, as we have witnessed in previous races.
With cloud covering the circuit and rain pouring down, combined with decreasing levels of light, Rosberg could be correct with his concerns.
If the monsoon comes down, the race is going to have to be stopped because we can’t race and drive with that amount of water.
I think twilight racing is not the way to go. In Melbourne it was obvious that it just increases the danger so much.
The visibility is so difficult, you can’t even see the edges of the track in some corners. I was driving into the sun and that’s not what racing is about. So I really hope they reconsider that.
Even moving it forward by one hour or something will help us massively. It was just the last part of the race that was the really problematic time. Nico Rosberg.
The Singapore event, which is held at night for the very same reason – to gain as many viewers in Europe as possible – was less of a problem for the drivers. They all used clear visors and the light remained constant throughout the race, as it was being provided by artificial means. However, with the changeable conditions seen during the evening, the drivers are worried.
But do the drivers have a valid concern, or should they just get on with it and stop complaining?