STAYING MUM: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is not denying the accuracy of a "leaked" 2016 race calendar. Image: AFP / Greg Baker
LONDON, England - Formula 1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is not denying the accuracy of a "leaked" 2016 race calendar.
On Wednesday (Apr 29 2015) the organisers of the Australian GP triggered the story by announcing that the Melbourne opener next year will be held in early April - the first time in three decades that the season will begin so late.
"I'm not bothered by the (April 3) date," race chief Andrew Westacott told local Fairfax Media. "I'm very pleased to have it confirmed so early."
NOT BEEN APPROVED
Although about to retire Australian GP supremo Ron Walker is a key ally of Ecclestone, so it is interesting that the statement also said the later season-opener would "condense" the 2016 calendar.
It was at that point, apparently, that leaked versions of the provisional 2016 race schedule with an unprecedented 21 GP's began to do the rounds.
One version, published by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, shows the addition of Azerbaijan and the return of Germany, and multiple 'back-to-back' race weekends, among them Australia and China in early April.
The Ecclestone-run Formula One Management company did not deny the accuracy of the unofficial calendar. "It would appear that the proposed 2016 calendar has been leaked," it said. "This calendar has not yet been approved."
The "leaked" dates:
April 03 - Australia (Albert Park)
Apr 10 - China (Shanghai)
Apr 24 - Bahrain (Sakhir)
May 01 - Russia (Sochi)
May 15 - Spain (Barcelona)
May 29 - Monaco (Monte Carlo)
June 12 - Canada (Montreal)
June 26 - Britain (Silverstone)
July 03 - Austria (Red Bull Ring)
July 17 - Europe (Baku)
July 31 - Germany (Hockenheim)
Aug 07 - Hungary (Hungaroring)
Aug 28 - Belgium (Spa)
Sept 04 - Italy (Monza)
Sept 18 - Singapore (Marina Bay)
Sept 25 - Malaysia (Sepang)
Oct 09 - Japan (Suzuka)
Oct 23 - USA (Austin)
Oct 30 - Mexico (Mexico City)
Nov 13 - Brazil (Interlagos)
Nov 27 - Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
Britain's The Times surmised that the condensed calendar was intended to "give the sport a more hectic year of action.
"Another theory," said The Telegraph, "is that condensing the calendar... it could also reduce the need to travel back and forth to the teams' bases in Europe", thereby cutting costs for struggling teams.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 season.