And back we go: F1 pushes season start back to April for 2016

With changes to the F1 calendar on the horizon, Kyle Archer looks at what this could mean for the sport.

Since 1988, the Formula One season has begun in March. However for 2016, the season will commence in April as Formula One Management looks for a condensed calendar. With more back-to-back races in place of long gaps, 2016 could save teams money but also put more stress into the race crews.

The news of a later start time for the 2016 season comes just four races into the current season. But the surprising news was broken by the Australian Grand Prix CEO, Andrew Westacott, who has announced the race has been given a April 3rd start time for next year rather than its mid-March position.

This change means Formula One will kick off in April rather than March for the first time since Brazil 1988 when the opening round also started on the 3rd of April. But even back then the opening round had only been held in April for the previous two seasons after a break of almost 20 years. Yet 2016 looks to be a return to the April start with FOM condensing the calendar for more regular on-track action.

If the plans to start in April do go ahead, it could mean waiting less time between Grand Prix’s, like now with a three-week break after the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10th. Instead, the early fly-aways would be bunched together to mean less waiting around for the European races for F1 fans. Not to mention with less time between Grand Prix’s, teams would not need to fly their equipment back to their bases as frequently which would save them money on long-haul cargo flights.

Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore. 26th September 2010. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10, 1st position, makes his stop. World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic ref: Digital Image _A8C9285

However creating a calendar with races bunched together more often can cause issues with the teams. Although they have no say in the calendar, more back-to-back races could mean the team’s race crews become exhausted over the season and the teams need to have more crew available in order to rest other members. This is another issue creating a calendar with over 20 races brought up over recent years.

And more races on the calendar may be another item on FOM’s agenda yet again.

For example, the current calendar would have stood at 20 races had the German Grand Prix not been dropped after the Nürburgring were unable to fund the race and the Hockenheimring were unable to step in to save the race. Come next year, Hockenheim should be back on the calendar due to its alternating schedule to host the German Grand Prix but a Grand Prix in Azerbaijan is also scheduled for 2016 with the country now holding a contract to join F1 next year. This would bump the calendar up to 21 races, depending on Germany’s return and the ever-uncertain future of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Lewis Hamilton on the 2014 Italian GP podium at Monza in front of the Italian Tifosi F1 Fans. Copyright - Sara Cimino

Another change that looks like it will be implemented in Formula One for next year is different start times for the races. If the Australian GP is pushed back into April rather than March, the race time would be affected by daylight savings meaning an earlier start time is needed thanks to the setting sun.

But condition based time differences are not the only change being talked about after last Friday’s Sky Sports F1 show’s #AskCrofty special, where Claire Williams suggested pushing the European races back further in the day to increase the sport’s popularity.

When questioned about a potential one-hour race limit for Formula One, Claire Williams suggested a 4 or 5pm race time in Europe could be better for F1 as it would free up spectator’s days for other activities before watching an evening of motorsport.

During her time on the Sky Sports programme, Claire said: “The way that society is now people want to spend time with the family and doing something together, and actually giving up your whole Sunday, which you have to do to watch a Formula 1 race, completely clobbers your whole day.
“If we moved it to later on in the afternoon, you go out, you do your day with your family, you come home and watch the grand prix at 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon. Those kind of considerations are the questions to ask first.”

Now that a potential April start is on the cards for 2016, it will surely be something looked out for when the provisional calendar is announced later in the year, along with potential time differences for the Grand Prix’s. But do you agree with the changes? Leave a comment to let us know what you think of the changes, along with any other suggestions you would make to improve F1 or if you think F1 is fine just the way it is.

Kyle Archer

The Sport Space

With changes to the F1 calendar on the horizon, Kyle Archer looks at what this could mean for the sport.

Since 1988, the Formula One season has begun in March. However for 2016, the season will commence in April as Formula One Management looks for a condensed calendar. With more back-to-back races in place of long gaps, 2016 could save teams money but also put more stress into the race crews.

View original post 735 more words