Azerbaijan set to change F1 race start time (Update)

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with the announcement:

Baku City Circuit (BCC) confirmed this weekend that the start time for the 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE – the first ever Formula 1 race to be held in Baku. Azerbaijan — has been moved forward by one hour to 5pm as a result of the Azerbaijani government's decision to scrap Daylight Saving Time (DST) from this year onwards.

This time change was approved by FOM over the weekend and was directly linked to the fact that the abolishment of DST meant that the original start time of 6 pm would have seen the race taking place too close to the 8:14 pm time of sunset in the Azerbaijani capital.

This change in start time, however, will not apply to audiences in countries where the clocks have changed – meaning the official race start will still be 3pm CET for example – and crucially will avoid any clash with the 24 Hour Le Mans, which will be finishing at that time.

Commenting on the news, BCC's Executive Director Arif Rahimov said: "After fruitful discussions with FOM, we are happy to confirm this new start time which has been taken with the best interests of the fans watching live at our street circuit and on TV, as well as of course the teams and drivers, in mind. The decision to move the start time forward by an hour will avoid any concerns of driver's having to race in fading light while it also means that fans watching at home are now just a flick of the television remote away from going straight from the end of 24 Hour Le Mans to watching the first ever F1 race to be staged in our spectacular city. As sporting Sundays go, we think that's about as good as it gets!"

04/01/16 (GMM) Rumor has it that organizers of June's inaugural grand prix in Azerbaijan are in talks with Bernie Ecclestone to tweak the race start time.

Nico Hulkenberg, the 2015 Le Mans winner, is unable to defend his title this year because F1's first ever race on the streets of Baku is taking place on the same weekend as the fabled 24 hour sports car race in France.

F1 has scheduled a 6pm local start in Baku, which coincides with the very end of the famous 24 hour sports car race taking place in France on June 19.

But it now emerges that the Azerbaijan government has in fact cancelled this year's onset of daylight saving time.

A science committee got together some days ago and, according to Baku's F1 chief Arif Rahimov, "They did research as to whether or not this (daylight saving) actually helps anything."

Azerbaijan's daylight savings has been in place since 1997.

"There was a science committee that decided that it (daylight saving) is not really worth it," Rahimov told GMM partner Autosport Middle East.

Now, Baku F1 organizers have lodged a request to Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management with a plan to adjust the race start.

"We're still talking to FOM and the FIA," said Rahimov. "Obviously now that we've cancelled the daylight saving time, there might be a change in (race) time.

"We've proposed something to Formula One Management and we're expecting them to come back to us very soon — within probably the next couple of weeks I hope."

There had been concerns that the original 6pm start time, designed with daylight savings in mind, might mean the drivers are negotiating fading light by the end.

So when asked if the proposed new race time will still avoid the Le Mans timing clash, Rahimov answered: "Yes, basically what we had before was that Le Mans finishes at 3pm European time, and our race starts at 3pm European time.

"So with the time change now, if we bring it back one hour, it will be in line with what we have in terms of the European times, so yes it will still avoid the clash."

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