The 2016 Formula One Calendar

Yesterday there was a lot of discussion at the announcement that the Australian Grand Prix would take place on April 3 next year. I joined the chorus of those wondering what the season would hold for us all with such a late start – and wondered if Australia would hold the coveted opening race after all.

During the course of the day, Jon Noble and Autosport published their vision of the 2016 Calendar:

April 3: Australia (Albert Park)
April 10: China (Shanghai)
April 24: Bahrain (Sakhir)
May 1: Russia (Sochi)
May 15: Spain (Barcelona)
May 29: Monaco (Monte Carlo)
June 12: Canada (Montreal)
June 26: Britain (Silverstone)
July 3: Austria (Red Bull Ring)
July 17: Europe (Baku)
July 31: Germany (Hockenheim)
August 7: Hungary (Hungaroring)
August 28: Belgium (Spa)
September 4: Italy (Monza)
September 18: Singapore (Marina Bay)
September 25: Malaysia (Sepang)
October 9: Japan (Suzuka)
October 23: USA (Austin)
October 30: Mexico (Mexico City)
November 13: Brazil (Interlagos)
November 27: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

Interestingly, FOM announced on their website that indeed, the calendar had been ‘leaked’ and that is was yet to be ratified. So yes, it’s the calendar, but it isn’t. If you know what I mean. Basically it’s a first draft, a wish list if you will of how Mr E would like to view the 2016 Season. So why the late start?

We usually have delays in the season due to clashing with momentous sporting events. But a quick investigation reveals that there are no major events taking place that would cause the delay to the start of the season. Maybe Mr E has a holiday booked at Butlins? Who knows – but whatever the reason, I am sure we will find out in due course.

Here is what we know from looking at this calendar:

21 Races. 7 back to back events. Monza in. Hockenheim in. Azerbaijan in. Lots of shifty abouty.

Malaysia has long been a race held at the start of the season but for 2016, it finds itself scheduled a week after Singapore. This to me, is a daft idea. Holding two races, back to back, a mere stones throw from each other is not ideal for those trying to sell the tickets. Yes, there will be some diehard fans who will attend both races but to me, all this is doing is diluting the market for F1. It would be like holding the British Grand Prix at Silverstone one week and then the European Grand Prix at Donington or Brands Hatch the next.

But what do I know?

The amount of back to back races is a huge concern for those who actually work in the sport. When you work in Formula One, you give up a lot. You miss birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, births, deaths – you name it. Formula One sucks you in, chews you up and spits you out. Those that already have partners working in F1 will not like the look of this calendar with the amount of time spent away from home. Yes, the season starts later – but that’s little comfort for those who will be left with the children, chores and other obligations all on their own. They are called ‘F1 Widows’ for a reason.

The Baku Circuit in Azerbaijan joins the calendar as the European Grand Prix and will take place on July 17. On paper it looks like an interesting lay out and I am eagerly waiting the updated imagery before casting judgement on the circuit. The season ends once again in Abu Dhabi.

One reason for the compact calendar could be to maintain a momentum. You look at other major sporting series and there are not a lot of gaps or time with the spot light left off the series. Look at the gap we have between Bahrain and Spain this year. Tumbleweed is blowing about the keyboards of F1 journos and fans have been re-watching classic footage on YouTube in a quest to quench their F1 thirst. With this back to back condensed mayhem, at least the series will be constantly making news and being discussed around the water cooler.

Remember, this is a first draft. And much like the first draft of Star Wars, it will undergo revision. And more revision. Then the teams will need to agree and then the FIA will need to ratify it. So let’s not get over excited or our undies in a twist just yet.

Let’s just wait and see what the final calendar brings us.

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