Australian GP date firming on elongated F1 2023 calendar

A date for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix looks set

A date for next year’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix looks all but settled as the sport’s commercial bosses piece together what is expected to be a 24-event 2023 calendar.

Australia’s place on the calendar is assured until 2035 following a new deal announced in the run in to last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Albert Park will host the opening round on five occasions during that period, with 2024 slated to be the next time the season opens in Melbourne.

We can therefore deduce that the 2023 event will be Round 3, following the season-opener in Bahrain and then the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

With Ramadan a consideration in the Middle East, the latest the sport could host an event there is March 19.

In reality, a March 5 start to the season in Bahrain followed by March 12 in Saudi Arabia is more likely as the sport looks to elongate the season to make room for two new races.

Australia will therefore logically fall on March 26 or April 2 as Round 3, with the former date understood to be the more probable of the two.

From there, the sport would head to China as it looks to double up events by region where possible, before heading back to Europe.

Formula 1 will next year welcome Qatar onto the calendar in a permanent capacity, having acted as a stop-gap for the Australian Grand Prix in 2021, while Las Vegas returns to the schedule next November.

The expansion of the calendar has created a degree of concern that the hectic schedule will only be made worse, and could even lead to quadruple-headers to squeeze the races in.

However, according to teams, who have seen an early draft of next year’s calendar, that is not the case.

“Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] is looking to optimise the calendar, so the difference between 23 and 24 races isn’t significant,” said McLaren Racing CEO, Zak Brown.

“Obviously, the well-being of our racing team, both travelling and back at the factory, because they’re doing long hours even though they may not be travelling, is always of the highest importance.

“But I think with a little bit of calendar optimisation, and a little bit of regionalising the calendar, I think can counter the increase in races.”

With the 2023 season set to start earlier to avoid Ramadan, the year is also likely to extend into December.

This year, the season reaches its climax on November 20, a day before the football world cup begins in Qatar.

A clash with that event is not a concern for 2023, allowing organisers to stretch out the calendar and avoid too many events bumping into one another.

“This season is also a bit different because that we have the world cup of football at the end, and then we are finishing a bit earlier than usual,” observed Alfa Romeo Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur.

“But to have two races in a row, back to back, one weekend off, back to back, one weekend off, I think it’s a good system.”

Brown added: “[I’d] be surprised if we did four races in a row.

“That being said, I think it also depends what part of the world you’re in.

“With all the teams because based in the UK or Europe, if you have consecutive races where you can actually go home in between, versus if you’re out in Asia or something along those lines…

“I think that’s something Stefano’s told us, he’s definitely trying to maximise the calendar.”

For now, the calendar remains a work in progress, though a number of pieces are already beginning to drop into place.

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