Formula 1 2016 season to start earlier after team complaints

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Australian Grand Prix 2015
Lewis Hamilton took the first win of the 2015 season at the Australian Grand Prix in March

The latest version of the 2016 Formula 1 calendar has next season starting two weeks earlier than originally planned, in Australia on 20 March.

The Melbourne race was originally scheduled for 3 April, the latest start to an F1 season in decades.

But teams complained about the compressed schedule caused by trying to cram in a record 21 races.

Australia will be followed by Bahrain, China and Russia at two-week intervals, with the British Grand Prix on 10 July.

The revised schedule for what was described as an "updated provisional calendar" - suggesting there could be further changes at a later date - was released following a meeting of F1's legislative body, the world motorsport council of governing body the FIA, on Wednesday.

The list also sees a date change for Malaysia, moving it two weeks apart from the Singapore race with which it had originally been twinned.

Singapore organisers objected to the races being back-to-back because they felt it would negatively affect their event to have another race so close geographically on the following weekend.

The latest provisional 2016 F1 calendar is as follows:
20 March Australia (Melbourne)24 July Hungary (Budapest)
3 April Bahrain (Sakhir)31 July Germany (Hockenheim)
17 April China (Shanghai)28 August Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
1 May Russia (Sochi)4 September Italy (Monza)
15 May Spain (Barcelona)18 September Singapore (Marina Bay)
29 May Monaco (Monte Carlo)2 October Malaysia (Sepang)
12 June Canada (Montreal)9 October Japan (Suzuka)
19 June Azerbaijan (Baku)23 October USA (Austin)
3 July Austria (Spielberg)6 November Mexico (Mexico City)
10 July Britain (Silverstone)13 November Brazil (Sao Paulo)
27 November Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

And a mid-season break of four weeks has been reintroduced after a decision to cut it to three was criticised by teams, saying it would make the workload on mechanics intolerable.

In other notable changes, the new European Grand Prix in the Azerbaijani capital Baku will be on 19 June, a week after the Canadian race in Montreal.

The season ends in Abu Dhabi on 27 November as originally scheduled.

A number of rule changes were announced.

Tweaks to the rule regarding track limits, after controversies about drivers going beyond the lines demarcating the edge of the circuit, will include a requirement for drivers to "make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not deliberately leave the track without a justifiable reason".

And a change has been made to engines for next season to try to make them louder, following criticisms that the new turbo hybrid engines are too quiet.