The 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season will start almost a month later than in 2015 after next year's Australian Grand Prix curtain raiser had its date confirmed as April 3rd.

Part of a move by the FOM to condense the 2016 schedule by reducing the length of the full season, the decision to put the Australian Grand Prix back to an April 1-3 date means next season will kick off later than March for the first time since 1988.

Though the provisional calendar for the 2016 season won't be confirmed for some time, the decision to confirm Australia's date later than expected comes despite the intention of increasing the number of races on the calendar

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As it stands, Azerbaijan is almost certain to be included, even if the German Grand Prix remains fairly uncertain after being dropped for 2015. Races in New Jersey and Korea are still 'contracted', but are unlikely to be included in the final schedule.

A consequence of Australia's later date will mean it comes after daylight saving time has occurred and will therefore allow for an earlier race start time.

"The new date will see an earlier start time, and fans can expect the same great on-track action and off-track entertainment across the four days," said CEO Andrew Westacott.

"It's fantastic that Melbourne will again play host to the opening round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Over the past 20 years Melbourne has become synonymous with the start of a new Formula One season, and we look forward to again welcoming all the teams and drivers to our great city in 2016."

It is 28 years since the F1 season started so late in the year, though on that occasion there were only 16 races in the year.

Furthermore, it is the latest starting date for the Australian Grand Prix since it became the traditional season opener with its move to Albert Park back in 1996, even one day later than in 2006 when the event was the third round in the season.