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2017 to kick off with back-to-back races?

NEWS STORY
31/08/2016

The provisional calendar for 2017 sees Australian and Chinese Grands Prix held back-to-back.

The calendar sees the season kick off in Melbourne on 26 March before heading to Shanghai a week later.

The late start to the season at least gives the teams time to prepare though there is concern as to whether, following the season opener, they can turns things around in time for the trip to China especially as Melbourne has a reputation for attrition.

Contrary to previous reports, the schedule, which will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council when it meets in late September, includes 21 races, though there remains a question mark over Hockenheim.

For the first time in several years, no new races are scheduled to make their debut on the calendar, even though events in Las Vegas, Imola, and even Paul Ricard, have been mooted.

While there are a total of five double-headers over the course of the season, the opening rounds after China - Bahrain, Russian Spain and Monaco - are held at bi-weekly intervals, the jewel in the crown event at the Principality to be held on the last weekend of May.

With its much publicised financial difficulties, and his failure to buy the Nurburgring, Hockenheim's inclusion, gives credence to claims that Bernie Ecclestone could be involved in the promotion of the event or even secure a special deal with the circuit owners.

Indeed, in light of the ongoing problems at Silverstone, not to mention Monza's failure to agree a new deal, a number of races are under threat in the long-term as the full impact of the 10% year-on-year increase in hosting fees takes effect.

With promoters feeling the squeeze, in many cases, as in Germany, because attendance is down, some claim that Ecclestone might seek to redress the situation by increasing the cost of TV deals, though the declining viewing figures suggest that this might not provide the solution.

Much, therefore, will rest on whether the sport has got it right and F1 2017-style is faster, noisier, more aggressive and sexier.

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