Daniel Ricciardo joins the call for F1 to be more flexible with start times

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo with a quirky look. Belgium August 2022

Daniel Ricciardo has called for Formula 1 to be more flexible with start times if rain is forecast for the grand prix.

Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix was forecast to be a wet one, it was just a question of how wet.

The rain came down in the build up to the grand prix, wet but no means dangerous. At least that’s how it started.

As the drivers sat on the grid waiting for the start of the formation lap, the downpour became heavier and by the time the first lap of the race was underway it was dangerous with almost no visibility.

Carlos Sainz walked away from a heavy crash, one in which he was lucky not to be tagged by another driver, while others went spinning.

The race was red flagged for over two hours before a timed 40-minute grand prix took place, won by Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver covered 28 laps in total, 52% of the racing distance, with Ricciardo saying they could have done more laps had Formula 1 and the FIA been open to an earlier start knowing the rain was going to intensify.

“We want to race,” Ricciardo told Autosport. “Where I wish we could do better is… I know it’s easy saying it now, but we knew this rain was going to come. It’s like 2014.

“Even if you bring it forward an hour, maybe we gain 20 laps at the beginning and you can still make a race of it.

“That’s where again, let’s try and learn something from this. I know there’s TV and everything, there’s a big part of it.

“Ultimately, we want to have a race.”

Ricciardo made a great start in part one of the race, up from 11th on the grid to P8 when the Safety Car came out.

Restarting P8, he dropped to 15th after he stopped for intermediates and could only recover to 11th.

“Part of me was scared, part of me enjoyed it,” he said of the first start. “It was nice to gain a few spots.

“As soon as we got into Turn 1, I was like ‘ah wow, there’s too much water’. The visibility was so bad. I feel like the onboard cameras did it justice.

“But then I was happy to get the race going again. I didn’t think it would.”

Start of the Japanese GP. Suzuka October 2022.

Alas TV broadcasters would never allow for an early start

While television broadcasters can for the most part cater to extending coverage of a grand prix, what they can’t do – unless they are someone like Sky Sports with a dedicated F1 channel – jump in early.

That’s why Formula 1 will never bring a race start forward.

It’s the broadcasters and the advertisers that keep Formula 1 going, paying FOM a hefty fee to show the grands prix.

One can only imagine the uproar they’d get from their viewers if people tuned in only to find half the race had already been run.

Subscribers, and F1 various broadcasters are these days more subscription-based than free-to-air, would protest and cancel their subscriptions.

While Ricciardo’s argument for more racing, and safer racing, is valid, at the end of the day Formula 1 has to cater to the broadcasters.

It’s simply finance.

Read more: Mercedes question whether the Japanese GP should have started on time