Since 2018, the European part races were regularly beginning at 3:10PM. It was a move decided by Liberty Media to hopefully boost the television audiences and help the broadcasters, as it meant they were able to begin their pre-race programmes on the hour before the events started. The move from 2PM to 3PM was also supposed to help boost the American television audiences, due to the time zone differences. F1 tried to justify those changes back then in a statement that said: “Some broadcasters usually go on air precisely on the hour, hence missing the tension and emotion that characterise the minutes before the start of each grand prix. Thanks to this change, television viewers will be brought closer to the teams and the drivers and fully enjoy the spectacle offered just before the red lights go out.”
Although those changes could have brought some small benefits, they were not really popular within the F1 circles and actually caused some trouble for the teams. Moving the races an hour later to 3PM meant that the personnel who has been already pushed on by the big number of races in the season had late pack up times (to pack up the garage and send it to the next GP or back to the factories), with extra time being wasted ahead of the GP’s. Additionally, the starts at uneven time (ten past) meant complications with the pre-race ceremonies and the opening of the pit lane exists. The broadcasters that already had a lengthy pre-race programme were forced to find additional 10 minutes of extra content to fill in the gap before the race start.
It has been said that F1 made the decision to revert back to 2PM starts from 2021 for the European part of the season, as it used to be, and for the races that take place outside of Europe, they will find a time slot that fits the best with the peak amount of audiences watching. Indications suggest that all teams are in favour of the change and it will be formally approved soon.