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Australia F1 race promoters seeking date change for 2018

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The promoters of the Australian Grand Prix hope to bring the Formula 1 season-opener in Melbourne forward by one week for 2018, in order to avoid clashing with the start of the new Australian Football season.

This year’s race at Albert Park was staged on March 26, taking a later slot than usual as part of a push from F1 to create a more condensed calendar.

However, this created a date conflict between the grand prix and the start of the new AFL season, resulting in reduced media coverage in Australia for F1 as a result.

In a bid to resolve this, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation is now working with F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, to bring the race forward a week for 2018, eyeing a March 18 start to the season.

“We’re working with them and we’re very confident we’ll get an outcome, and if that works out to be March 18, then we’ll be very happy,” AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott told Fairfax Media.

“The first race of the season is going to be in Melbourne and we’re working with FOM on the date. Our desire would be to have it on March 18 and if it can’t be that, then it’s March 25.

“It’s one of those two dates.”

Liberty Media has already approved one change for the Australian Grand Prix weekend, allowing the V8 Supercars support race to become a points-paying event. It was previously a non-championship round so as to avoid detracting attention from the F1 race.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.