Once again a bumper provisional F1 calendar was announced yesterday by the World Motor Sport Council, relatively early in the year by recent standa...
Once again a bumper provisional F1 calendar was announced yesterday by the World Motor Sport Council, relatively early in the year by recent standards. As we have seen in the past, the final calendar can sometimes look a little different with some races that do not take place.
This season is a case in point; it was due to have 21 races, when the draft calendar was first floated in 2014, but the return of Korea was a mirage and problems with finance at the Nurburgring led to that race being cancelled, hence the 19 races this year.
So will we have 21 events in 2016?
The addition of an inaugural Grand Prix in Baku, the capital of the oil rich state of Azerbaijan on July 16th next year is the standout change on the F1 calendar.
The season is scheduled to start with the traditional Australian Grand Prix curtain raiser on the surprisingly late date of April 3rd and runs until the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the final weekend in November.
The teams will have just one week between races on seven separate weekends during the year, though it is, perhaps, a little early to consider the calendar 'final' and further changes are from unlikely.
The German Grand Prix has been included on July 31st but with no indication of which circuit will host the event and there is general gloominess about the prospects of a race taking place. It is due to be Hockenheim's turn, but sources suggest that the race would make a loss of between €3-5 million. Mercedes offered to carry some of the risk this year, but even this would not make up the shortfall and it will be interesting to see whether history repasts itself as interest in the sport in Germany declines sharply.
Italy has another year on the contract, so the traditional September race will take place in 2016, but there is deep pessimism there about the prospect of agreeing terms with Ecclestone for a renewal. The two sides seem quite far apart on what is sustainable for the Monza track and the race must be considered at risk from 2017 onwards.
Meanwhile sources continue to insist that a Qatar Grand Prix is on the horizon in the next few years, regardless of whether the Qatari-backed bid for F1's commercial rights holder goes through.
FIA Formula One Calendar 2016
April 3 Australia
April 10 China
April 24 Bahrain
May 1 Sochi
May 15 Spain
May 29 Monaco
June 12 Canada
June 26 UK
July 3 Austria
July 17 Baku
July 31 Germany
August 7 Hungary
August 28 Belgium
September 4 Italy
September 18 Singapore
September 25 Malaysia
October 9 Japan
October 23 USA (Austin)
October 30 Mexico
November 13 Brazil
November 27 Abu Dhabi
As expected the WMSC also approved rule amendments proposed by the F1 Strategy Group regarding power unit allocations and penalties with immediate effect.
Extensive revisions to the new Superlicence points system set to come into force next year mean current F1 test drivers will not be penalised for not racing in approved series in order to retain eligibility.
Under the changed rules, a driver who gains the necessary points for a superlicence will retain the right to the licence for three years rather than one as originally planned.
Meanwhile the points system itself has been significantly revamped with revised points and a number of new series offering points added to the list.
After considerable lobbying by various race series, DTM, Indy Lights and FIA World Touring Cars have been added to the list along with the top category of senior CIK karting.
The planned FIA F2 category has had its points allocation reduced to 40 for the winner, the same as GP2, Indy Car, FIA WEC LMP1 sportscars and FIA Formula 3, while the Formula E champion will automatically earn a superlicence despite the series not being part of the points system.
Elsewhere the WMSC rubberstamped proposals by the F1 Strategy Group aimed at simplifying power unit regulations. Effective immediately, drivers using engines from new manufacturers will be entitled to a fifth engine for the racing season, one more than current engine manufacturers.
The rule is being applied retrospectively to Honda.
In addition, the penalties for taking extra power units outside the allocation will be a maximum of being put to the back of the grid with no further penalty being applied to the race.Additional reporting: James Allen
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