Azerbaijan set to join F1 in 2016, as Germany returns

The FIA has published its provisional 21-race calendar for 2016, which is set to feature the inaugural race in Baku under the revived name of the European GP.

The calendar brings many revisions to the structure of the season, with Malaysia – an early season mainstay – moved to a September date in a back-to-back with Singapore. While this would reduce the mileage for teams to travel, the average monthly rainfall in Malaysia in September is around double that of March and April, when the race is usually staged.

Meanwhile, the Russian GP will move forward to 1st May as the fourth race of the year, just one week after the race in Bahrain. This would be just one of seven back-to-back races during the season, as the sport looks to expand to a record of 21 races per year.

F1 in Azerbaijan

The deal for the race was concluded in July 2014, following protracted negotiations between the national government and Bernie Ecclestone.

The decision to host an F1 race in Baku has once again shone the spotlight on F1 in relation to its stance on human rights contraventions.

Among other concerns, authorities in Azerbaijan have been accused of severe corruption, imprisonment of journalists who criticise the government and state-ordered violence.

However, when he was questioned about the deal, Mr Ecclestone commented: “Baku? No problem. That’s going to be another good race. I think everybody seems to be happy, there doesn’t seem to be any big problem there.”

F1’s official website carried the following legal notice this April following questions about its deals with Azerbaijan, Russia and Qatar: “The Formula One Group is committed to respecting internationally recognised human rights in its operations globally. Whilst respecting human rights in all of our activities, we focus our efforts in relation to those areas which are within our own direct influence.”

Germany to return

Meanwhile, it is expected that Germany’s return to the calendar will be widely welcomed following its last-minute removal this year.

No venue has yet been specified, and with the published calendar still subject to change, we can expect some movement in the coming weeks and months. However, it is likely that Hockenheim will host next year’s race, as it was already scheduled to hold the event in its existing race-share agreement with the Nurburgring.

The full provisional calendar is published below:

April 3: Australia

April 10: China

April 24: Bahrain

May 1: Russia

May 15: Spain

May 29: Monaco

June 12: Canada

June 26: Britain

July 3: Austria

July 17: Azerbaijan

July 31: Germany

August 7: Hungary

August 28: Belgium

September 4: Italy

September 18: Singapore

September 25: Malaysia

October 9: Japan

October 23: United States

October 30: Mexico

November 13: Brazil

November 27: Abu Dhabi

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