Formula One to get later start to 2016 season

Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:18am EDT
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Formula One's 2016 season will see the latest start to a championship since 1988, with the opening Australian Grand Prix scheduled for April 3.

Melbourne's Albert Park street circuit has usually hosted the opener in March, though it was pushed back to April in 2006 to become the third round on the calendar when Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Games that year.

"The 2016 Formula One Australian Grand Prix event dates are 31 March–3 April, 2016, with the later start date set to condense the season, which finishes in November," local organisers said on Tuesday.

The 1988 season also started on April 3, in Brazil.

Media have speculated that Formula One Management is aiming to reduce costs for teams and shorten the downtime between races in a bid to maximise interest in the championship.

Pundits have also suggested a condensed season could be a bargaining chip for FOM to pack in more races into the calendar, with Azerbaijan scheduled to make its debut next year on what could be a 20 round championship.

The later date at Albert Park will also mean an earlier start for the race, given it falls after the end of daylight savings in the state of Victoria when clocks are switched back an hour.

The AGPC was unable to provide further comment but confirmed the move was a directive from FOM.

"It's fantastic that Melbourne will again play host to the opening round," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Andrew Westacott.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One Driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain comes into the pits for a tyre change during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, March 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Mark Dadswell