The 2016 F1 season is set to start two weeks later than usual as Bernie Ecclestone attempts to condense the calendar.
The F1 website has confirmed that the season will kick off in Melbourne on April 3. It will be the first time that the season has not started in March since 1988, when the Brazilian GP also took place on April 3. Melbourne was also held in April in 2006, but it was the third race of the year.
The F1 website noted: “The revised 2016 date will see the event follow Easter and take place after daylight savings, the absence of which will see the race start earlier in the day. A final start time will be announced closer to the 2016 event.”
“It’s fantastic that Melbourne will again play host to the opening round of the FIA Formula One World Championship,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott. “Over the past 20 years Melbourne has become synonymous with the start of a new Formula One season, and we look forward to again welcoming all the teams and drivers to our great city in 2016. The new date will see an earlier start time, and fans can expect the same great on-track action and off-track entertainment across the four days.”
While the news of the April start has attracted a lot of attention, it isn’t really such a big deal. The last time the season started relatively late was in 2009, when the Australian race was held on March 29. However Ecclestone only had to fit in 17 events that year, rather than the 20 expected next season.
This year could easily have started on March 29 had Melbourne/Sepang been back to back, and had there only been one free weekend between Bahrain and Spain. A little shuffling later in the season could have saved another week.