Pérez and Norris call for earlier Australian GP start time due to “dangerous” low sun

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Sergio Pérez and Lando Norris have asked for an earlier start time to the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next year following a “dangerous” late finish to the race at Albert Park just over a week ago.

The clocks changed on the day of the race as Australia heads into their autumn and winter period. The race started at 15:00 local time, with sunset at 18:12 on that day.

Following three red flags, the race concluded at 17:36 with the sun very low and clearly impacting the vision of the drivers.

It used to start at 14:00 local time in March when Australia kicked off the season. The race was moved to a later start time to try and help with audience numbers in Europe as it began at 03:00 Irish/UK time and 04:00 CET.

Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez started from the pit lane and ultimately saw the chequered flag in P5. Speaking post-race, the Mexican was strong in his feelings about the situation.

“It’s just the start time. We need to make sure we start the race earlier,” said Pérez.

“I didn’t feel safe towards the end of the of the race, so there is plenty of work to do there.

“The sun is basically in our face. At the restart we couldn’t see anything.”

With the track cooling and drivers struggling to generate any tyre temperature for the second restart — along with the ever decreasing visibility — carnage ensued at turns 1 and 2.

“It was really dangerous, first of all the warm-up, but secondly, we could not see anything. We cannot race in these conditions any more. One day, it’s going to be a big shunt,” the 32-year-old continued.

“We cannot see anything. The last 30 laps we are just a passenger, we don’t have any visibility.”

Lando Norris was informed of Pérez’s comments and he agreed with his Mexican colleague.

“It’s been the same the last three years — the last three times we’ve raced here,” said Norris.

“When the sun is setting and there’s no clouds, some of the corners are impossible to see. The sun is directly in your eyes.”

The McLaren driver added that the drivers have asked for an earlier start time but have been ignored to date. He also provided an example of how bad things could get due to the poor visibility.

“I guess in an ideal scenario — and as drivers we’ve requested it every single year — is to move the qualifying earlier and to move the race earlier, because it gets a little bit dangerous.

“I guess it’s a bad example but if there was someone standing there where the sun is, you’re going to hit them. If there’s a big piece of debris or tyre, you’re gonna hit it because you literally cannot see anything. It’s not an exaggeration when you say it’s dangerous.

“We’ve made the same request the last three years and nothing’s changed.”

Picture credit: Red Bull Content Pool