2016 F1 Australian Grand Prix date brought forward by two weeks

Next year's Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix has been brought forward by two weeks to March 20, according to race organisers

2016 F1 Australian Grand Prix date brought forward by two weeks

The race at Albert Park had been pencilled in for an April 3 slot on the provisional 21-race calendar which was released by the FIA in July.

However, a statement on the official Australian Grand Prix website said: "The date for the 2016 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has changed to 17-20 March.

"The change of the date is part of a number of changes on a provisional calendar issued by the World Motor Sport Council.

"The race will remain the first race of the Formula 1 season."

The change is expected to be confirmed by the World Motor Sport Council, which is meeting today in Paris.

It will mean the second and final pre-season test in Barcelona, currently pencilled in for 15-18 March, will need to be rescheduled.

The move will also have a huge impact on the teams' production schedules as it will require their chassis to be ready two weeks earlier than originally planned.

Speaking before the announcement, Williams performance chief Rob Smedley said bringing the opening race of the season forward would be "really tough".

"That will be very difficult - I mean two weeks is a lifetime," said Smedley.

"We have to redo all of our plans, really. We fine tune the plans - or rather the plan is to be fine tuned by April 1 or whenever it is.

"That's done really without margin, in order to extract the most out of the car in all the areas.

"It's not as if we've got two weeks slack where we're thinking 'we can go on holiday for these two weeks' and rock up just before the first test - absolutely not.

"So I think it will be really tough for us, but it'll be tough for everybody regardless of your resources or results it's going to be tough.

"For a team like ours though it probably is going to be a little bit more difficult."

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