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Australia poised to start 2025 season as F1 juggles early headache

A contract clause looks set to pave the way for the Australian GP in Melbourne to start the 2025 F1 campaign

The Australian Grand Prix is poised to kick start the 2025 Formula 1 season as CEO Stefano Domenicali mulls over the issues being posed by next year's Islamic holy festival of Ramadan.

This year, Ramadan started on March 10, offering scope to F1 to bring forward the dates of the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian GPs by a day to March 2 and 9 respectively. For 2025, however, Ramadan is due to start on March 1 and run through to the end of that month.

With this year's record-breaking 24-race calendar not ending until December 8, F1 has no desire to cut short the winter break and stage the Middle Eastern double-header over the final two Sundays in February, the 16th and 23rd. It would mean pre-season testing running from February 6-8.

The logical conclusion is to honour one of the clauses in the 10-year contract extension signed by the promoters of the Australian Grand Prix in June 2022, and which runs through to 2035.

Within the parameters of the deal, it was agreed that Melbourne's Albert Park could stage the curtain-raising race on three occasions. It did so from 1996 through to 2019, bar the exceptions of 2006 and 2010 when Bahrain played host.

The arrival of Covid in 2020 resulted in the Australian Grand Prix dropping off the calendar for two years. Since 2021, Bahrain has taken over the honour of starting the season.

For 2025, however, the dates for Ramadan mean it will yield to Australia, and instead be staged in April. Bahrain will continue to host pre-season testing.

Weather worry

At this stage, as the 2025 cars will predominantly be a continuation of the machinery that finishes this season given the resources and focus required for 2026 when new power unit regulations kick in, F1 could conceivably run the three-day test on February 19-21, with the Australian Grand Prix on February 28-March 2.

Although the date is early for Australia, as its race has often been staged in mid-to-late March, weather conditions are warmer, and the daylight hours are slightly longer.

It would also allow F1 to stage the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix on March 16 and 30 respectively, with the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian races moving to April 13 and 20, and the Miami GP following on May 4.

A fly in the ointment for F1 with the March dates for Japan and China, though, is the weather given the cool temperatures, around 13 and 14 degrees Celsius for both Suzuka and Shanghai.

Whilst pre-season testing and the Australian Grand Prix could shift to mid-to-late March, the problem for F1 is then trying to fit in the Japanese and Chinese GPs later in the calendar.

As can be seen this year following the August summer break, there are potential gaps. F1 has created longer breaks between the races in Singapore (Sep 20-22) and the United States (Oct 18-20), which starts a triple-header, and again between São Paulo (Nov 1-3) and Las Vegas (Nov 21-23), with the latter spearheading the concluding three-race salvo.

The gaps have been designed, however, to avoid team and personnel burnout at a time of the year when exhaustion levels will rise, so plugging these for next year with two additional races will only raise concerns.

The feeling is F1 would rather gamble with the weather in Japan and China in March rather than condense the calendar to breaking point later in the year.

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