The start time of the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan has been altered but Baku’s first Formula 1 race will still clash with the Le Mans 24 Hours.The Azerbaijani government has this year cancelled daylight saving time, which means the race will now start at 5pm local time and not the originally scheduled 6pm.
As the current two-hour time difference to Europe is sustained, it means the race start will be exactly when Le Mans concludes.
“We had verbal confirmation about a week ago [from the FIA and FOM regarding a start-time change], just after Australia,” said race CEO Arif Rahimov.
“Now it is confirmed and we’ve transferred the time, so we will start at 5pm, a 3pm start European time, which is still the same finishing time as Le Mans.”
There had been early suggestions of retaining a 6pm start – 4pm in Europe – to provide an hour gap to avoid the clash with Le Mans.
But Rahimov said: “We can’t do an hour gap because it means the race would start too late, which is two and a half hours before sunset.
“So there is no gap. Le Mans will finish and then Formula 1 will start.
“For us logistically it doesn’t make any difference as it means it will still get dark a period of time after the race ends, which is the thing we looked at the most.
“We just shift our operations one hour back, but it’s not a major problem.”
Rahimov only learned of the government’s plans a few weeks ago, resulting in the talks with the FIA and FOM that have led to the change.
“We only found out in mid-March, that is when the discussions started,” added Rahimov.
“We never knew it would be confirmed until the 27th of March when they said they would cancel the summer saving time.”
Original story by: Autosport