Formula One to get later start to 2016 season

Organisers gave no reason for the April 2016 start, but said it would condense the season.

FILE: The start of the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Picture: Mercedes AMG Petronas FB

MELBOURNE - Formula One's 2016 season will kick off in April at the Australian Grand Prix, the latest start to the championship since 1988.

The season-opener at Albert Park street circuit has usually been held in March, though it was pushed back to April in 2006 to become the third round on the calendar when Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Games that year.

Organisers gave no reason for the 2016 change but said in a statement it would "condense the season," which finishes in November.

Media have speculated that Formula One Management is aiming to condense the season to reduce costs for teams and shorten the downtime between races in a bid to maximise interest in the championship.

Pundits have also suggested a condensed season could be a bargaining chip for FOM to pack in more races into the calendar.

The later date at Albert Park will also mean an earlier start for the race, given it falls after the end of daylight savings in the state of Victoria when clocks are switched back an hour.

The AGPC was unable to provide further comment but confirmed the move was a directive from FOM.