Bianchi crash could lead to Malaysia GP change

Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:30pm EST
 
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - This year's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix may start earlier as a safety precaution following Jules Bianchi's horrific crash in Japan last October, Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali told Reuters on Wednesday.

Razali, speaking after contract renewal talks in London with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, said they discussed returning the race to a 1500 local time slot from 1600 last season.

That would mean less likelihood of the tropical downpours that have affected some recent races, including the 2009 race that had to be cut short with half points awarded.

French driver Bianchi suffered severe brain injuries at Suzuka when he skidded off track, in fading light and heavy rain, and collided with a recovery tractor. He remains in hospital in a critical condition.

"Mr Ecclestone mentioned that because of the Suzuka incident the FIA has some time limit," said Razali. "So he is reviewing to move the start to the original time, maybe this year.

"For us it's good. It's a safer time bracket...so now people can come in for lunch, watch the race and about five o'clock they can go back (home).

"He (Ecclestone) mentioned the possibility (of an earlier start). We said if you want to go back to three PM, we fully support it."

Razali said turning Malaysia, the second round of the championship, into a night race like the one in neighboring Singapore was also discussed but he was not keen on an idea first mooted in 2008.   Continued...

 
Marussia Formula One driver Jules Bianchi of France drives in front of Caterham Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan during the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit October 5, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino