The format of the race weekend was under discussion at the end of last year, with a number of drivers – including Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen – saying F1 should be more open to change. Following the disjointed Brazilian Grand Prix, which featured two red flag periods, Ecclestone says two separate races close together would be appealing to fans.
“People have a much shorter attention span and a lot of sports are looking at introducing shorter forms of their games,” Ecclestone told The Sunday Times.
“The television audiences went up for Brazil. We had a long race with the heavy rain and a couple of crashes, but that meant we had two starts because of the red flags and people tuned in.
“We need to look at the traditional concept of one long race. Two 40-minute races with a 40-minute break in the middle when the drivers could be interviewed, cars worked on, would be attractive to viewers, the TV companies, the sponsors, and advertisers would love it.
“Cars would qualify on a Saturday as usual for the first race and that would set the grid for the second. It would shake things up with lighter, faster cars.
“But I don’t know if we have the courage to change. Times change though and it is something we must look at.
“All American sports have time-outs built in, mainly because American audiences can’t concentrate. They grow up with everything in 15-minute segments on TV. People are the same everywhere now.”
The last race weekend format change saw F1 trial elimination-style qualifying at the start of this season, which was widely criticised and eventually dropped in favour of the previous knockout format after just two races.