WMSC announces provisional calendar for 2016 F1 season

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The World Motor Sport Council has revealed the provisional calendar for the 2016 Formula 1 season following a meeting in Mexico City this week.

The calendar features 21 races and is identical to the leaked calendar that emerged towards the end of April.

As expected, the season is set to start at the beginning of April in Australia and features more back-to-back events.

The German Grand Prix returns after missing out on a race in 2015 due to the inability of either Hockenheim or the Nurburgring to agree a deal to host the race.

The European Grand Prix joins the calendar as planned, and will take place on July 17 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Malaysian Grand Prix has moved from its usual round two slot to now go back-to-back with Singapore at the end of September. The Chinese Grand Prix is now the second round of the season.

Another race on the move is the Russian Grand Prix, becoming the fourth round of the season by going back-to-back with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The United States Grand Prix is set to be held on October 23 2016, one week before the Mexican Grand Prix.

Provisional 2016 Formula 1 Season Calendar

April 3 – Australian Grand Prix
April 10 – Chinese Grand Prix
April 24 – Bahrain Grand Prix
May 1 – Russian Grand Prix
May 15 – Spanish Grand Prix
May 29 – Monaco Grand Prix
June 12 – Canadian Grand Prix
June 26 – British Grand Prix
July 3 – Austrian Grand Prix
July 17 – European Grand Prix (Azerbaijan)
July 31 – German Grand Prix
August 7 – Hungarian Grand Prix
August 28 – Belgian Grand Prix
September 4 – Italian Grand Prix
September 18 – Singapore Grand Prix
September 25 – Malaysian Grand Prix
October 9 – Japanese Grand Prix
October 23 – United States Grand Prix
October 30 – Mexican Grand Prix
November 13 – Brazilian Grand Prix
November 27 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

At 21 races, the 2016 season is already set to feature the most races in F1 history, beating the previous record of 20 set back in 2012.

However, there could yet be some additions as the likes of Korea, India and even New Jersey continue to contemplate a grand prix.

Quite whether any could come to fruition or even fit on the calendar remains to be seen, but there is a possibility that the figure of 21 could swell with later amendments.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.