The season schedule for 2012 had been published by IndyCar, featuring returns to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and to Detroit's Belle Isle raceway and the first-ever series outing to China.

Organisers had originally intended to publish the calendar last week. It is thought that last-minute contract negotiations with Texas Motor Speedway may have caused the delay. Concerns about the series running on 1.5-mile high-banked oval circuits are also thought to have prompted the series to wait for the official report into the fatal accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October before deciding to commit to a return to the Fort Worth venue.

Despite fears that these issues might cause the venue to be dropped, Texas returns to the schedule on June 9. It will once again stage a double-header evening/night two-race event, as it did in 2011 to great acclaim by fans. However, Texas loses its coveted position as the first event following the Indianapolis 500, with Belle Isle dropping into the intervening weekend instead (on June 3) as it returns for the first time since since holding CART events in 2007/8.

The first four events of the 2012 season will be the same as this year, starting with the traditional curtain raiser on the streets of St Petersburg on March 25. There will also be a pre-season open test session at Sebring International Raceway on March 5-8.

April will see IndyCar visiting Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama (April 1) followed by Long Beach in California (April 15) and Sao Paulo in Brazil (April 29). May will then be dominated by the traditional build up to and running of the famed Indianapolis 500 (May 27).

Following Detroit and Texas, the series will return to Iowa Speedway (June 23) for a nighttime race before heading to two road courses in Canada on the streets of Toronto (July 8) and Edmonton (July 22). August starts with the road race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (August 5) and ends with a return to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma (August 26), which bracket the series' first trip to China to race on the streets of Qingdao (August 19).

The final two races of the season will see IndyCar return for a second year to the streets of Baltimore (September 2) and then travel to the two-mile oval Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (September 15) for a floodlit event. The circuit last appeared on the calendar in the CART series from 1997 to 2002.

While Fontana is currently the scheduled season finale, given that the series has already announced that it will not be returning to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2012 as originally planned, IndyCar organisers say that they are still investigating adding one or more further events which could be inserted at the end of the season.

"We are exploring adding additional events to the 2012 schedule," confirmed IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. "We're in the process of confirming a 16th event, while also considering adding a 17th race to the calendar."

As well as Vegas, also missing from the calendar are returns to the Milwaukee Mile, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. Motegi is also not included, having hosted its final race in IndyCar in 2011. In total, out of the 16 confirmed events for 2012 including the two full-points races at Texas, there are only five oval-based events, with the remainder all being held on street circuits or permanent road courses. However, Randy Bernard insisted that this still presented a good balance overall and was a unique challenge to drivers.

"To be crowned IZOD IndyCar Series champion, the driver must be able to master a diversified race schedule that truly challenges the best in the world," he said. "The 2012 schedule offers our drivers and teams the test of conquering both ovals and road and street races. Adding to the diversity of the season, we're excited with the launch of three engine manufacturers [Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus] vying for the Manufacturers Trophy."

There are still concerns that the Baltimore event may yet be hit by financial problems affecting the local promoters, despite the huge success of the maiden running of the race in 2011.

2012 IZOD IndyCar Schedule

(5th-8th Sebring International Raceway - open test)
25th Streets of St. Petersburg 1.8-mile street course

1st Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course
15th Streets of Long Beach 1.968-mile street course
29th Streets of Sao Paulo 2.536-mile street course

(12th Indianapolis 500 Opening Day)
(19th Indianapolis 500 Pole Day)
(20th Indianapolis 500 Bump Day)
27th The 96th Indianapolis 500 2.5-mile oval

3rd Raceway at Belle Isle Park 2.1-mile street course
9th Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile oval (NB two races)
23th Iowa Speedway 0.875-mile oval

8th Streets of Toronto 1.755-mile street course
22th Edmonton City Centre Airport 1.973-mile airport course

5th Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course
19th Streets of Qingdao, China 3.87-mile street course
26th Infineon Raceway 2.303-mile road course

2nd Streets of Baltimore 2-mile street course
15th Auto Club Speedway 2-mile oval