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FIA World Motor Sports Council release 2014 F1 Calendar - September 28, 2013 by admin
Paris Headquarters of the FIA

Paris Headquarters of the FIA, photo by Phanuruch Phongsutilak

Of course no race is definite until the circuit is homogulated by the Fia, to confirm it is safe for racing and for spectators at Formula One level. For this reason at least the New Jersey, Mexican and Russian races on the latest F1 Calendar released for 2014 may not go ahead but there still may be more to it than this.

This is the most official calendar yet, it has been confirmed by the FIA World Motor Sports Council rather than the previous Calendar which was released unofficially by FOM, as far as anyone knows at least. Many now believe the early release of this calendar that had 21 races and didn’t include the New Jersey Race was leaked by FOM to push the News Jersey Race Promoters to get their house in order and possibly to come up with some of the money for staging the race, now scheduled for 1st of June.

Whether everything is sorted though is another mater and the New Jersey Race and Mexican Races are still subject to confirmation, interestingly though the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi isn’t though the circuit there isn’t complete. There may be more than give the circuit the once over before these races are confirmed then. For Mexico this isn’t surprising, these are early days and we are yet to hear much about the race, set to take place in MexicoCity. We know it is going to be a street circuit but the location and layout is still unclear.

There is no reason to believe the New Jersey race probably won’t happen, presumably Bernie Ecclestone still believes it is worth putting time into negotiations and there must be people with the potential to fund the race to talk to.

2014 could be a 22 race season then, but don’t be surprised if it is 21, 20 or even possibly 19 races with Korea also yet to be confirmed as they try to negotiate more favourable terms, though indications are that this is close to happening. There are also questions about how rules on engines for the season will now work with an extra two races to recovered by 5 engines: some believe Bernie is keeping two races, possibly including Korea, on the calendar for now with the notion of dropping them if Mexico and New Jersey come off.

The 2014 season F1 Race Calendar as released on the 27th of September 2013

16th March – Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park, Melbourne)
30th March – Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang, Kuala Lumpur)
6th April – Bahrain Grand Prix (Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir)
20th April – Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai)
27th April – Korean Grand Prix* (Korea International Circuit, Yeongam)
11th May – Spanish Grand Prix (Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona)
25th May – Monaco Grand Prix (Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo)
1st June – Grand Prix of America* (Port Imperial, New Jersey)
8th June – Canadian Grand Prix (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal)
22nd June – Austrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring, Spielberg)
6th July – British Grand Prix (Silverstone, Northamptonshire)
20th July – German Grand Prix (Hockenheimring, Hockenheim)
27th July – Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring, Budapest)
24th August – Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Franchorchamps, Spa)
7th September – Italian Grand Prix (Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza)
21st September – Singapore Grand Prix(Marina Bay, Singapore)
5th October – Russian Grand Prix (Olympic Park, Sochi)

12th October – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka International Circuit, Suzuka)
26th October – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina, Yas Island)
9th November – United States Grand Prix (Circuit of the Americas, Austin)
16th November – Mexican Grand Prix* (Mexico City)
30th November – Brazilian Grand Prix (Interlagos, Sao Paulo)

19 Races, that’s it for 2013; FIA confirm calender - March 9, 2013 by admin
Paris Headquarters of the FIA

Paris Headquarters of the FIA, photo by Phanuruch Phongsutilak

The calender was shuffled and there seemed to be tracks willing to stage a race so why a European race couldn’t be found to replace the postponed inaugural New Jersey race may never be known.

Maybe time just ran out and a week before practice for the season opener at Melbourne the FIA confirmed the calendar for 2013 with only 19 races.

Broadcasters among others would have wanted to confirm schedules. Also perhaps those who were originally willing to fund races at tracks such as the Red bull Ring in Austria, Portimao in Portugal and Magny Cours and Paul Ricard in France lost patience and feared the late addition of the race would effect ticket sales: as many fans choose which races to attend and buy tickets early in the new year.

The other interesting thing to note from the confirmed calender is that the Nurburgring remains on the calender and has not been switched for the Hockenheimring; tickets are now on sale for the German Grand Prix at the financially troubled circuit so it seems the race will go ahead here.

So the final calender for 2013 confirmed by the FIA  is :

March 17th         Australia (Melbourne /Albert Park)
March 24th         Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur /Sepang)
April 14th         China (Shanghai / Shanghai International Circuit)
April 21st         Bahrain (Sakhir)
May 12th           Spain (Barcelona /Circuit de Catalunya)
May 26th           Monaco (Monte Carlo /Circuit de Monaco)
June 9th           Canada (Montreal /Circuits Gilles Villeneuve)
June 30th          Britain (Silverstone)
July 7th           Germany (Nurburgring)*
July 28th          Hungary (Budabest /Hungaroring)
August 25th        Belgium (Spa /Spa Franchorchamps)
September 8th      Italy (Monza)
September 22nd     Singapore (Marina Bay)
October 6th        Korea (Yeongam) *
October 13th       Japan (Suzuka)
October 27th       India (New Delhi/ Buddh International Circuit)
November 3rd       Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
November 17th      United States (Austin /Circuit of the Americas)
November 24th      Brazil (Sao Paulo /Interlagos)

Plans for Greek Grand Prix officially submitted - August 14, 2012 by admin
Europe's busiest Passenger port Piraeus, photo by Andrea Mayer-Edoloeyi

Europe's busiest Passenger port Piraeus, photo by Andrea Mayer-Edoloeyi

Following much discussion within and outside of Greece as to whether Greece should even be considering a Grand Prix given its financial situation let alone whether such a project is viable in terms of interest within the country, a plan has been submitted.

 

Kostas Tzavaras a Greek Member of parliament has been ones of the countries politicians to put his support behind the race which organisers believe will actually boost the economy and pay for itself bringing in tourists. Mr Tzavaras has been quoted as saying in reference to the race: “The priority of the government has to be the creation of instruments, which will help the country’s development “.

 

It certainly seems that Greece will need tourists to attend the race in a country with no history in F1 the track is set to be at Piraeus Athen’s main port to the south of the city the hope would be fans would stay in the city, go to the nearby beaches along the coast or they could get a ferry from Piraeus itself which is the main gateway to Greece’s many islands with their holiday resorts.

 

The circuit would be likely to have some resemblance to the Valencia circuit, also based around a harbour and not a permanent track though Valencia has, until this year at least, failed to create exciting races and has also failed to bring in enough spectators. Nearby Turkey has also struggled to make F1 work in a country with no historical link to the sport of famous drivers and the Turkish Grand Prix is no longer on the calendar and the Istanbul Park Circuit rarely used.

 

Not being a permanent circuit the investment required would be less, though the cost per race thereafter would remain high, the decision now though is in the hands of Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management as well as the FIA who now have the full plans put together by architect Thanasis Papatheodorou, meaning this could be the first new circuit for several years not to be designed by Hermann Tilke.

 

 

FIA send out message Bahrain should go ahead: but circumstances could still lead to cancellation - April 13, 2012 by admin
Paris Headquarters of the FIA

Paris Headquarters of the FIA, photo by Phanuruch Phongsutilak

The FIA after talks with the Formula One teams, at which they have supposedly all stated they are happy to race, have said that the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead.

 

The FIA are responsible for ensuring the safety of anyone at a Grand Prix and in their statement they included the following:

 

“The FIA ensures that any event forming part of an FIA World Championship is organised in compliance with the FIA Statutes and the relevant Sporting and Technical Regulations and that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event”.

 

If there are problems and injuries occur then the blame would fall on the FIA but they seem happy with arrangements and security at the moment for the race to go ahead: so regardless of what the teams say they must be certain that the race can be run safely. Whether the race will see protests is another matter and whether the race should be run from a moral perspective is another matter; the FIA seem to only be considering security and safety.

 

The key information in the FIA’s statement was towards the end and read:

“Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.

Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.”

 

The mentions of ‘current information’ and ‘at this stage’ though suggests they are still monitoring things and things could change. You could also argue that if they are considering cancelling the race, but are yet to decide, the right thing is to release this statement so that speculation is put to bed and so it remains in their control rather than becoming a self fulfilling prophecy due to everyone else assuming the race will be cancelled.

 

The FIA have admitted that they have made their decisions based on information given by  ‘Bahraini authorities and by the Commercial Rights Holder’: this in itself may raise questions as it is in the interest of both to see the race go ahead and so the information may be biased.

 

The FIA also mention Jean Todt’s fact finding mission in November as a basis for their decision, when he was accompanied by Damon Hill. Since November though things have almost certianly changed and protests and violence have increased, Damon Hill who backed the race in November recently called for it to be reassessed but the FIA have obviously not taken the same view, or have reassessed it and not changed their opinions.

Bahrain Grand Prix looks set to go ahead - February 20, 2012 by admin
The Bahrain International circuit

The Bahrain International circuit, Photo courtesy of Allan Donque

We have to admit at F1 Cities we felt fairly certain that the Bahrain Grand Prix would eventually not go ahead in 2012 and that the fact tickets were yet to go on sale was evidence of this; today though (20th of February) about two months before the race weekend tickets have gone on sale.

 

Sakhir Circuit chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa claims that there is a lot of interest in the event, much of it from corporate clients. In the past atmosphere has beeen lacking at the circuit and so it is important that tickets sales ramp up quickly but it is expected that many from outside of the Arabian peninsula will stay away and even those from Arabia and within Bahrain may decide to go to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix instead.

 

Supporters of the race are claiming that it will unify the nation or that the focus on the country will force the governement to cease any ongoing human rights abuses and that protestors will be able to use the event to raise their cause with little threat of violence against them while thousands of journalists are in the country. The Press Conference where the staging of the Race was confirmed announced that the slogan for the race would be ‘UniF1ed – one nation in celebration’: suggesting that Bahrain is now a happy place where the events of last year are forgotten and the disenchanted have changed their minds. Many though see that Formula One is giving the message that the Bahriani government can do what it likes to its people and no-one cares; it is a year since the ”Day of Rage’ but no-one has been punished or bought to justice for what happened that day, or rather no-one on the government side.

 

Regardless of whether most fans feel that the race going ahead gives the wrong message there is the chance that protests at or near the circuit, quite likely starting at  the university next door, people won’t want to risk getting caught up in it at all even if the risk is low and the Sakhir circuit itself doesn’t really have a history of classic races to attract people in.

 

Meanwhile Bernie Ecclestone has backed the race but crucially the FIA are yet to come out worth a statement, the FIA, not driven by money like the F1 administration, could still be the ones to cancel the race but it is looking less likely now: then of course the race could still be cancelled or disrupted on the race weekend if protests do flare up.

Bahrain GP backed by Bernie - February 15, 2012 by admin
bahrain international circuit, photo by Emi Faulk

photo by Emi Faulk

In 1985 Jean Marie Balestre announced soon after the South African Grand Prix that Formula One would not return there until after the end of Apartheid: many still think that Formula One should have pulled out long before this but Formula One pulled out as did many companies at around the same time to help force change. In Bahrain many see the situation as being similar, the Bahraini government and Royal Family it is assumed want the race to go ahead to showcase the country and help attract investment.

 

There are others though who argue that the Grand Prix going ahead would actually do more to bring about change in Bahrain by brining in large numbers of journalists and putting the spotlight on the country; the events including Human Rights abusesin Bahrain many believe are being forgotten by western media. In the UK their are politicians on both sides, a group of Lords and Green MP Caroline Lucas calling for the race to be cancelled and a group of MPs calling for it to go ahead: each group it has to be said concerned about Human Rights but seeing the role of Formula One in different ways.

 

Bernie Ecclestone’s point of view seems to be that the race should go ahead but his attitude could probably be described as more laissez faire: like many he doesn’t think that Formula One should get involved in politics, many would say events in Bahrain have gone far beyond politics. What Bernie Ecclestone may also be doing of course is waiting for the Bahraini government to cancel the race themselves as they did in 2011 so he doesn’t lose the F1 Administration’s fees by cancelling; he could also be hoping that the FIA and Jean Todt will step in and cancel the race: thereby keeping his relationship with the Bahraini government and the race organisers in tact for future years. Whether Bernie will cancel the race at the last minute if someone else doesn’t of course remains to be seen.

 

High Profile MPs urge dropping of Bahrain GP - February 9, 2012 by admin
The Bahrain International circuit

The Bahrain International circuit, Photo courtesy of Allan Donque

As we have mentioned the Bahrian Grand Prix looks in doubt already, the FIA and Formula One Admisinstration though have kept the official line as ‘There is no reason to doubt that the Bahrain GP will go ahead’, they would be unlikely to say anything else though until the point it is cancelled of course and it is becoming a line that is now looking even less believable.

 

A high profile list of MPs and peers in the UK have called on the FIA to cancel the race, this list includes Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Alton, Lord Avebury, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas and Lord Boswell who wrote an open letter to The Times newspaper.

 

They wrote, “The continued political crisis in Bahrain is a troubling source of instability in the Gulf region, and the lack of any move towards political reconciliation concerns those who wish to see Bahrain move in the direction of greater democratic accountability.” They then went on to go over the facts about a lack of reconciliation in the country between the Government and opposition groups.

 

The FIA has in the past claimed that they believe Bahrian has taken big step forward while many activists in the UK, Bahrain and elsewhere argue that human rights violations continue but are simply ignored by western media. Only last week news came out that a British man had been attacked and had his fingers cut off by government forces, what this suggests could be happen being to Bahraini citizens can only be imagined; there are even stories that many employees of the Sakhir circuit accused of having celebrated the cancellation of the race in 2011 were cancelled.

 

The group of politicians finished their letter with “Until it takes concerted measures to reform the electoral, penal and judicial processes, international observers as well as ordinary Bahrainis can have little confidence that Bahrain is on the path to reform and political stability. We urge the FIA to reconsider its decision to continue with the race.” As mentioned before though and as happened in 2011 it still seems likely that the Bahraini government will force the cancelling of the race: wishing to ensure the event doesn’t become a window for the world in to the situation in the country, tickets for the Grand Prix in April are yet to go on sale.

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