FOM confirms proposed 2016 F1 calendar has been leaked

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Formula One Management (FOM) has confirmed that the proposed calendar for the 2016 F1 season has been leaked.

Earlier this week, the Australian Grand Prix corporation confirmed that it would be hosting its annual race in Melbourne on April 3 2016, two weeks later than normal.

However, the AGPC said that it would remain as the opening race of the season, meaning that the 2016 campaign would get off to a later start.

A report by Autosport constructed a theoretical calendar for the 2016 season that saw a number of races change slots whilst keeping the Australian Grand Prix as the first round and the finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

On Wednesday, FOM released a short statement in reaction to the calendar speculation:

“It would appear that the proposed 2016 calendar has been leaked. This calendar has not yet been approved.”

The calendar published by Autosport features 21 races, with the 19 rounds of 2015 being joined by the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the revived Grand Prix of Europe in Baku, Azerbaijan. The latter race is set for July 17.

Judging by this calendar, there will be more back-to-back races, with the Chinese Grand Prix becoming the second race of the year in the week following Australia. The Malaysian Grand Prix will move to a mid-September slot, going back-to-back with the Singapore Grand Prix.

The United States Grand Prix is set to remain in the same slot for 2016, being held one week before the Mexican Grand Prix towards the end of October.

FOM’s statement does confirm that the calendar put together by Autosport is very close to what is being planned for 2016, but still could be subject to change.

A condensed F1 season would give teams more time during the winter to prepare for the new season, whilst more back-to-back races could aid TV figures and keep fans interested across the course of the season.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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