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2016 F1 opener originally scheduled for April 10th

Teams were told the 2016 Formula 1 season was going to start on April 10th, with the subsequent late schedule change causing issues for McLaren and Sauber.
The 2016 Formula 1 season was originally set to get underway on April 10th, according to McLaren, despite this year's expanded schedule featuring a record-breaking 21 events.

Though the F1 programme has swelled gradually in recent years, 2016 will see two more events added to the erstwhile schedule, with Germany returning and Azerbaijan debuting with a race around the streets of its capital city Baku.

Indeed, the original draft of the calendar – which was leaked in June and approved in July – had the curtain raising Australian Grand Prix down as taking place on April 1-3, two weeks later that usual.

As a result - with the season ending at a similar point to that of 2015 in Abu Dhabi - the 2016 season was due to feature more races over a shorter timeframe, raising concerns that it was too intense a schedule for teams, specifically mechanics.

However, though this was eventually amended later to March 20th – in line with the 2015 season -, McLaren says it was originally informed the season was going to start on April 10th, which would have seen the 21 F1 events contested over just 34 weeks.

For this reason, teams had started preparations for the 2016 season based on this, with Sauber the first casualties of the change having confirmed it will only be able to run its C35 at the second of the two pre-season tests in Spain.

Similarly, McLaren says it was forced to work over the Christmas period to make up for some of the lost time.

"Our entire build programme wasn't lined up for that!” says McLaren operations director Simon Roberts. “So we knew we had a problem to solve. In terms of our design and engineering capacity, it's a relatively straightforward re-planning exercise – there's less time to get the work done, so everyone works a bit harder.

“But the build schedule is on a critical path – it needs to pass all the FIA safety tests and be ready for the first test, which was also brought forward. In that situation, you can't just re-plan, you need to do something different.”

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