Australian GP organisers respond to F1 2016 date change

Australian Grand Prix organisers are working hard to minimise the disruption to fans caused by the 2016 Formula 1 season opener's date being changed

Australian GP organisers respond to F1 2016 date change

Up until recently the Australian Grand Prix Corporation had been promoting and selling tickets for a March 31-April 3 date for their four-day event at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Following a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council last week, and a revamp of next year's calendar, the race will now take place on March 20, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

Latest 2016 Formula 1 calendar

Despite the obvious rescheduling headaches that come with a switch with less than six months to go, AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott told AUTOSPORT: "We had been planning for April 3, obviously.

"But as event organisers a different date means we organise all the activities to happen on a different day, so at a logistical level it will be business as usual.

"However, it will not be business as usual when it comes to dealing with our fans.

"The biggest change we've found is that lots and lots of our domestic fans have already booked their domestic, inter-state or international travel.

"In some instances they've linked that with tourism activities, going on to Sydney, the Gold Coast, Queensland or the Outback, and there are lots and lots of things to unravel.

"So the main area we are working on as a result of this is with the hotels, airlines and other tourism providers to ensure the Australian tourism industry as a whole is as flexible as possible to assist our fans with minimal financial impact.

"We don't want them getting stung with penalty costs and booking change fees and the like."

Westacott promised fans who are unable to attend the revised date "will get a full refund on their ticket, including any credit card and booking fees on that transaction".

He added: "We want to make sure we do the right thing because it's through no fault of ours, or our customers, that things have changed.

"We are here to look after our fans. We recognise they are the ones who are going to have to change."

One of the downsides to the date change is the build up now takes place outside of the school holidays.

Westacott said: "The date change means it is not now so good for families.

"One of the things with the previous date is that on Thursday and Friday we were potentially going to get lots of mums, dads and kids.

"That's a shame, although I wouldn't over-emphasise it because as optimistic Aussies we'll make sure of maximising the benefits.

"I can't stress enough how much we will work to minimise the impact on our fans."

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