LONDON (Reuters) - Next year’s season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne has been brought forward to March 20, to allow space for an August break, after previously being listed for a later than usual start on April 3.
A revised provisional calendar with a record 21 races was approved by the governing FIA’s World Motor Sport Council at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
The April 3 date, which now goes to Bahrain for the second race of the season, would have been the latest start to a championship since 1988.
Other changes on the calendar see Bahrain and China swap places, with the race in Shanghai becoming the third round on April 17.
Azerbaijan’s inaugural race in Baku was moved from July 17 to June 19, a week after Canada, which means that Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg will be unable to defend his Le Mans 24 Hours title with that race also on June 19.
The FIA said however that the start in Baku would be timed to avoid any clash with the conclusion of the Le Mans race.
Britain is pushed back to July 10 from June 26 and follows on from Austria.
Hungary moves to the weekend before Germany, rather than after, with the race at Hockenheim on July 31 ushering in a restored August break to the relief of teams fearing for their personnel in the longest season yet.
Singapore and Malaysia cease to be back-to-back races, although still following on from each other on Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 respectively with the Japanese Grand Prix now on the weekend after Sepang.
The date change for Malaysia means the Sepang circuit will host Formula One and MotoGP on successive weekends.
The United States and Mexico are no longer back-to-back races either, with Brazil following straight on from the latter instead and the season ending as previously scheduled in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 27.
March 20 - Australia (Melbourne)
April 3 - Bahrain
April 17 - China (Shanghai)
May 1 - Russia (Sochi)
May 15 - Spain (Barcelona)
May 29 - Monaco
June 12 - Canada (Montreal)
June 19 - Azerbaijan (Baku)
July 3 - Austria (Speilberg)
July 10 - Britain (Silverstone)
July 24 - Hungary (Budapest)
July 31 - Germany (Hockenheim)
Aug 28 - Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
Sept 4 - Italy (Monza)
Sept 18 - Singapore
Oct 2 - Malaysia (Sepang)
Oct 9 - Japan (Suzuka)
Oct 23 - United States (Austin)
Nov 6 - Mexico
Nov 13 - Brazil (Sao Paulo)
Nov 27 - Abu Dhabi
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis