Williams: earlier 2016 start ‘really tough’ for F1 teams

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Williams head of engineering performance Rob Smedley claims that starting the 2016 season two weeks earlier than planned will make life “really tough” for all F1 teams in terms of deadlines and logistics.

Next year’s campaign is currently scheduled to kick off in Australia on April 3, but it is believed that F1 commercial rights chief Bernie Ecclestone would like to bring the Melbourne opener forward to March 20.

“That will be very difficult,” said Smedley. “Two weeks is a lifetime. We have to redo all our plans really. We fine tune the plans to start on the 1st of April or whatever it is and that's really done with no margin in order that we can extract the most out of the car in all the areas

“It's not as if we've got two weeks slack that we're thinking, well, we can go on holiday for them two weeks and we can rock up just before the first test. Absolutely not.

“So I think that's going to be really, really tough for us, but it's going to be really tough for everybody – regardless of your resources it's going to be tough. For a team like ours it's probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

An earlier start to the 2016 season would also have a knock-on effect on the pre-season test schedule, with the two Barcelona sessions currently planned for March 1-4 and March 15-18.

“If we're going to bring the season two weeks earlier then the current test calendar has to come two weeks earlier,” added Smedley. “If not we'd be doing our first test somewhere in the middle of the first race which doesn't really work! So it's all of it, and it has all the full ramifications.”

“It has the logistic problem we have, which is probably a little easier to solve than the car build problems. The car build is designed and planned out in fine detail, and as I said we just don't have two weeks of slack. But nobody does. Nobody has these two weeks of slack. Why would you? You're not going to build in two weeks of slack into your plan, are you? You'd be crazy.”

Last July, F1's governing body, the FIA, approved a record 21-race calendar for 2016, with Germany expected to return after this year's absence and Azerbaijan set to host a grand prix for the very first time.

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