2014 season set for March 16 start in Australia

While Bernie Ecclestone continues to struggle fine tune the details of next year’s F1 calendar the one bit of information the teams have been given is that the season will start on March 16 in Australia.

There had been moves to make Bahrain the first race, but Ecclestone has decided to revert to a more traditional schedule.

Ecclestone admitted in Hungary that there are doubts over India and Korea, and confirmed to this writer that we shouldn’t assume that Canada and New Jersey have to be back-to-back – meaning that June 8 and June 22 could work, with June 15 reserved by the FIA for Le Mans.

Meanwhile plans are well advanced on next year’s test programme, which as per the rules will consist of three four-day sessions. The first will be in Jerez at the end of January and will probably be followed – after a gap – by two visits to the Dubai Autodrome.

Jerez will thus be the likely launch venue for most of the new cars. However, some smaller teams may opt to miss it and spend the extra time on car development – knowing that their partners will be busy putting miles on the new powertrains and gearboxes.

Pirelli has asked the teams to go to Paul Ricard on the way back from Jerez for some wet weather testing. The response from the teams was that it might be a better idea to use the last couple of hours of one of the Jerez days for that purpose, rather than add the expense of dedicated test.

Intriguingly FOM intends to take charge of testing for the first time, which means it will organise freight for Dubai and so on.

In a meeting in Hungary FOM’s man apparently said that it was imperative that the testing plan was organised soon as he had discovered that Jerez was already heavily booked for the end of January. The teams had to point out that they had done the booking…

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