Skip to content

F1 in 2017: Details of schedule begin to emerge as late start mooted

March 26 pencilled in for Australian season-opener, with eight days of testing to begin at the end of February

F1's 2017 schedule is beginning to take shape, with a later start to the season being pencilled in to allow teams more time to prepare for next year's rules overhaul.

Although the FIA is yet to publish a draft calendar, Sky Sports F1 understands the season-opening Australian GP could take place on March 26, one week later than this season.

Pre-season testing is set to consist of two four-day tests, the first starting in the final week of February.

What will F1 in 2017 look like?

"There does seem to be a consensus around late March because of the big changes to the cars," said Sky F1's Ted Kravitz. "Everyone thought Australia was going to be March 19, mirroring the weekend where it was this year, but teams are so up against it with the development of these new cars, with the aero and tyre changes, to get everything turned around.

"So it's looking like March 26."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ted Kravitz and Ant Davidson look ahead to the rule and regulation changes being made for the 2017 season.

F1's pre-season schedule was cut to eight days for 2016 on cost grounds and all teams would have to agree for the programme to be expanded again. The first test of 2017 has been agreed for February 27-March 2 with the second to run on March 7-10. No venue has yet been selected, but Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya appears the most likely.

Also See:

The length of the 2017 race calendar remains unconfirmed, but German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reported ahead of the Italian GP that 21 races are again likely next season.

However, the futures of several long-established grands prix remain uncertain - notably Germany and Canada.

Although the German GP returned to the calendar after a season's absence at Hockenheim this year, the venue has only held the race biennially for the past decade as part of a previous share arrangement with the Nurburgring. However, the Nurburgring dropped out in 2015 and Hockenheim has yet to confirm whether it can afford to take on the race on a yearly basis again.

F1 season start dates this decade

Year Season-opening race Date
2016 Australian GP March 20
2015 Australian GP March 15
2014 Australian GP March 16
2013 Australian GP March 17
2012 Australian GP March 18
2011 Australian GP March 27
2010 Bahrain GP March 14

Asked by Sky Sports News HQ at Monza how secure Germany was for 2017, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said: "We'll have to have a look at that. Not confident at the moment."

Who drives where in 2017?

The long-term future of the Canadian GP in Montreal has also been the subject of recent speculation, despite the venue announcing a 10-year contract extension in 2014 which was to include upgrade works.

"I suppose the answer's yes there must be [a doubt], we haven't got a contract in place yet," Ecclestone said. "So I suppose it must be a question mark."

The prospect of a later season start for 2017 comes as F1 prepares to undergo its biggest change to aerodynamics for several years, as the sport bids to make cars faster and more aggressive.

Image: Pirelli have already started testing 2017's wider tyres

Sky F1's Martin Brundle said: "It's a brand new car and we're told there's so much scope in the regulations with the floor area they've got they will keep changing and updating the cars all through next season.

"It's going to be a particularly tough season for the teams."

Don't miss the F1 Report for the analysis of the Italian GP. The Telegraph's Daniel Johnson and former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley join Natalie Pinkham in the studio at 8.30pm on Wednesday. 

Around Sky