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Rediff.com  » Sports » Malaysian F1 chiefs ponder new start

Malaysian F1 chiefs ponder new start

April 07, 2009 09:29 IST

Frustrated by a Formula One washout at the Sepang circuit, Malaysian Grand Prix chiefs are determined to start next year's race at a "more suitable" time.

Sunday's race was red-flagged after just 32 of the 56 laps as a tropical storm and torrential downpour made conditions too dangerous for drivers.

A later start of 5pm local time -- a compromise with Formula One Management (FOM) after deciding not to stage a night race -- meant organisers ran out of daylight and were unable to complete the race.

"We definitely need to propose a more suitable time for our race," Sepang International Circuit Chief Executive Officer Razlan Razali said.

"The issue here is whether we have enough daylight, and on Sunday this was not the case," he told Malaysia's The Star newspaper.

The decision to start the race two hours later than previous years met the demands of F1 decision makers who want to attract bigger television audiences in Europe.

But in the event drivers were left unable to complete the race and fans were short-changed.

Race winner Jenson Button and other point-scoring finishers were awarded just half-points.

"It was not just the fans who were dissatisfied with a shorter race but I think everyone involved in F1 also lost money," Razlan said.

Razlan added that race organisers had already discussed reverting to a 3pm local start time, or moving the start back one hour to 4pm.

Several drivers had also expressed the opinion that the decision to start both Malaysia and the season-opening Australian Grand Prix later than usual was fundamentally flawed.

"The race should either be held at night or in the day. It should not be somewhere in the middle, it's crazy," said Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa.

"I don't think we thought it was a fantastic idea before," commented Button, whose win brought him only five points because more than half but less than 75 percent of the distance had been completed, when asked about the late start in Malaysia.

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