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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)

2014 F1 calendar, what we know, what we think we know and what we don’t know - September 9, 2013 by admin
Bernie Ecclestone

Mr Bernie Ecclestone Photo Courtesy of Nick J Webb

So a provisional calendar was released for the 2014 season on 5th September. What we can read from this though is limited and it really is provisional and not necessarily an indication of contracts for races, or lack of them, or a confirmation that certain new races will be ready on time.

There are three new races on the 21 race calendar but this could still become 4 new races on a 22 race calendar. Of the new races on the calendar though 2 are subject to confirmation as is the Korean Race.

Before we get on to the new races let’s talk about the existing races, the Korean race could very easily drop off the calendar next year and if not then soon, the race – at Yeongam in the countries rural and relatively remote south west corner – is reported to be loss making and government funding may be withdrawn.The race taking place is going to be down it seems to a new contract with a lower fee being agreed, the fact that the Korean Grand Prix is even provisionally on the calendar suggests both sides are willing to negotiate at least.

Other interesting things to notice include the Spanish Grand Prix talking place at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona again – and not at the Valencia Street Circuit that it at one point seemed would alternate the Spanish Grand Prix with Barcelona – and the German Grand Prix returns to Hockenheim again, this perhaps is less surprising and seeing if the race will still go to the Nurburgring the year after is more of an issue. Since the calendar was released we have also heard that the Bahrain race will become another night race.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is on the calendar and isn’t subject to confirmation, some have suggested that the race’s days are numbered with the Russian race joining the calendar next year and FOM wanting to cut the number of European races. The Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi circuit though is still subject to confirmation and a lot of reports have said the circuit won’t be ready in time, the Winter Olympics take place on the same site at the beginning of the year (in February), giving organisers until October 19th to prepare but with the circuit surface already mainly down there is no reason to believe this couldn’t happen.

the Sochi circuit as it will appear in 2014

How the finished track will appear: Image from Formula Sochi


It was perhaps even more of a surprise for most people that the Mexican race is provisionally on the calendar and although the support for such a race is obviously there now with two mexicans – Perez at Mclaren and Guittirez at Sauber – in F1 a Mexican race was perhaps inevitable but few expected it to happen quite so quickly. A race in Mexico City will take place on the 9th of Novemeber it seems though and although there is no reason to doubt this the details are still thin on the ground, maybe 2015 is more likely.

The Austrian Grand Prix seems fairly straight forward compared to the Russian and Mexican races, the circuit is there, both the circuit owners and Bernie want a race in Austria it seems, there is a history of and following for F1 in Austria and with the Red Bull Ring owned by Red Bull co-founder Materschitz finances aren’t really an issue.

What then of the potential 22nd race, some would be incredulous at the idea of having a 22 race season but we’ve lost count of how many times Bernie has put a cap on the number of races in the season and then exceeded it. Still though many are now very doubtful this race, the New Jersey race at Port Imperial, will happen for other reasons. This was going to be a street circuit, meaning there is no circuit lying unused, but some construction work on the pit and paddock buildings began but there is still no news on the funding for this race. However as the source of the funding was never public in the first place we would be unlikely to know anything until after the cheque is in Bernie’s pocket: he says the race could still happen and we wouldn’t expect him to let his long term dream, of having a race with a bad drop of the New York city skyline, go too easily.

The 2014 F1 Calendar(provisional:

16th March – Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park, Melbourne)
23rd March – Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang, Kuala Lumpur)
6th April – Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai)
13th April – Korean Grand Prix* (Korea International Circuit, Yeongam)
27th April – Bahrain Grand Prix (Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir)
11th May – Spanish Grand Prix (Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona)
25th May – Monaco Grand Prix (Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo)
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 – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka International Circuit, Suzuka)
19th October – Russian Grand Prix* (Olympic Park, Sochi)
26th October – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina, Yas Island)
9th November – Mexican Grand Prix* (Mexico City)
16th November – United States Grand Prix (Circuit of the Americas, Austin)
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)

2013 Provisional Formula One Calendar and Singapore GP 5 year extension - September 23, 2012 by admin
The Singapore main straight, photo by LGEPR

The Singapore main straight, photo by LGEPR

The 2013 provisional Formula One Calendar was released in the run up to the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix with no major surprises and in another unsurprising move the hugely successful Singapore Grand Prix has had a contract extension for 5 more years up to and includeding 2017.

 

The initial five year deal that bought F1 to Singapore began in 2008 and the sports only true night race has been very popular with fans and drivers: apart from the turn ten chicane which driver’s would like to see replaced and it is understood this may have been discussed in negotiations.

 

Despite this potential tweak though the layout of the  Singapore Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s best street circuits looking back over the sport’s history: with overtaking oppurtunities and plenty of good racing. There have been a number of hastily put together street curcuits in the past that have failed to put together good races and even Valencia, despite massive investment, failed to deliver what most fans would describe as exciting races, up until 2012, despite this though as anticipated there is no European Grand Prix at Valencia in 2013 though it is likely that it will be back in place of Barcelona in 2014 and that the races will alternate going forwards.

 

The other big change to the 2013 calendar is the inclusion of a second race in the US, the American Grand Prix in New Jersey scheduled for the weekend after Canada giving a North American double header. Of course the New Jersy race is still not certian with some legal issues and contract issues thought to be outstanding and with a cloak of secrecy over exactly where funding is coming.

 

Question marks also remain over the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam that is awaiting the conclusion of contract negotiations, the race is proving too expensive for the local government though and if no discount is offered by Bernie Ecclestone the race could be off the calendar.

 

The German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring also is yet to be confirmed as the holding company who own the circuit are in financial difficulties, if the Nurburgring can’t host the 2013 German Grand Prix the Hockenheimring, which alternates with the Nurburgring, have said they are ready to step in.

 

The complete provisional calendar

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 16th          America (New Jersey) *
June 30th          Britain (Silverstone)
July 21st          Germany (Nurburgring)*
July 28th          Hungary (Budabest /Hungaroring)
September 1st      Belgium (Spa /Spa Franchorchamps)
September 8th      Italy (Monza )
September 22nd     Singapore (Marina Bay)
October 6th        Japan (Suzuka)
October 13th       Korea (Yeongam) *
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)
Silverstone keeping close eye on weather - July 5, 2012 by admin
Silverstone have many new tarmaced car parks

Silverstone have many new tarmaced car parks, photo by Keith Williams

A few years ago a disastrous British Grand Prix weekend with traffic chaos and cars stuck in boggy parking fields led to the future of the race at Silverstone being questioned, though moving the event to April was probqably never a good idea and it was soon moved back to July and problems since then have been a little less severe if not totally non-existant.

 

Ahead of what is expected to be a wet weekend for the 2012 British Grand Prix this July weekend though the circuit owners and race organisers have announced that they have contingency plans in place and have invested £1 million in traffic control solutions.

 

Circuit Boss Richard Phillips told journalists that they will try to pre-empt any problems and said “……we have contingency plans in place, whether we use them or not will be reviewed as we go on, and that is looked at every four hours”

 

Though the circuit now has many more tarmaced car parks and car parks with tarmaccecd roads to stop busy points turning into quagmires it seems that organisers will keep a close eye on weather forecast and any met office warnings and may squeeze cars into hard standing car parks if needed to avoid use of fields: meaning that clearing car parks after the race will take longer but no one will get completely stuck.

24 races possible, and one could be in the Caribbean - April 30, 2012 by admin
An island paradise the Dominican Republic

An island paradise the Dominican Republic, photo public domain

One of the few areas of the world never to hold a Grand Prix could soon be set to have one, and we don’t mean Russia that gets its Grand Prix debut in 2014, but the Caribbean and specifically the Domincan Republic it seems. If the first thing you think of when you think of the Dominican Republic is that they have Haiti as neighbours then this is why they want a Grand Prix to bring back tourists scared away by the political troubles across there border.

These talks of a Caribbean Grand Prix are slightly more than rumours as well with Danilo Medina, one of the front runners for next month’s Presidential elections, saying that if he gets elected he will ensure that Formula One comes to the island and that the government will pay the race hosting fees with private investment to be found to build a circuit. This is likely to go down well with Dominicans as the island has suffered from its loss of tourism and the hope would be that race fans would stay for a longer break.

If you are wondering about how yet another race is going to fit on the calendar don’t because it seems that 24 races on the calendar are now being talked about. The unofficial limit had been 20 with Bernie Ecclestone saying more were unlikely then he said he could see a 22 race calendar but not more and now it seems teams are discussing 24: and no doubt if their are countries with potential sponsors and where existing sponsors want to sell these races will join the calendar, great for fans, great for potential and current circuits and great for team’s finical directors but a headache for everyone else within the team perhaps.

 

Pirelli confirm ten teams plan to run young driver’s test at Silverstone - April 30, 2012 by admin
Silverstone

A typical wet race at Silverstone in 2008, Photo by Ligreq

Unsurprisingly, given the option to take an extra test session mid season or wait until the season is almost over, ten teams have told Pirelli they will need tyres for a Young Driver’s Test to take place at Silverstone in July shortly after the British Grand Prix rather than at Abu Dhabi.

 

Only Red Bull and Toro Rosso will wait until the Abu Dhabi Young Driver’s test, perhaps showing their dedication to bringing young drivers through the ranks so that the Red Bull teams can focus on running young drivers without the distraction of gaining data for the second half of the season’s developments. There is also a potential to gain an advantage at Abu Dhabi testing next season’s tyres early, which Red Bull may have in mind; they may be even thinking about switching to development early and giving up on a title challenge in 2012?

 

Now for anyone wondering it has been confirmed that teams can still pull out of Silverstone’s young driver test, this is of course likely to be advisable if the rain pours down but it also means teams can keep their options open, importantly though once a car leaves the pits they have chosen to run at Silverstone and won’t be able to run at Abu Dhabi.

 

It will be interesting to see who drives at Silverstone in the Young Drivers test and there is a chance that someone like Gary Paffet or Marc Gene could be eligible and used by teams to get the most development out of their cars. Mclaren are already planning to run Gary Paffet at Mugello, alongside Oliver Turvey ,showing the faith they have in what they see more as development drivers than young drivers perhaps.

 

For other teams though the test will be a good chance to test drivers that some teams may even consider giving a race towards the end of the year if they are dissatisfied with a current driver and have seen enough at Silverstone to convince them a young driver is ready.

Doubts still remain over Bahrain as Practice starts - April 20, 2012 by admin
A view from the main grandstand at the Sakhir circuit, photo by Ange Embuldeniya

A view from the main grandstand at the Sakhir circuit, photo by Ange Embuldeniya

As cars take to the Sakhir track it feels a little sureal, we honestly never expected this race to go ahead and still have our doubts. With tensions around Manama running high and security stepped up ahead of practice any threat of violence around the circuit or realted to the race could still lead to a cancellation.

 

If security around the circuit clashes with protestors against the race and things get ugly can Formula One really continue and risk being left with blood on the hands of the FIA and in the eyes of the world the Formula One Group, Teams and of course sponsors?

 

Despite saying repeatedly that security wouldn’t be increased above levels for previous years today ahead of practice the race organisers have tightened security, though with so few fans expected to attend controlling matters inside shouldn’t be a problem; some suggested the race should be run behind closed doors with no spectators and that will almost be the case it is thought.

 

If things do flare up around the race it may be this afternoon(Friday) at 4 o clock lacal time when a protest is planned to take place at the race, this should be allowed to go ahead and the worst thing for Formula One would be a tough clamp down but of coutse the safery of all involved with the race must be paramount at all times and the balance could fall either way very easily of what is desired.

 

Force India of course have already beeen involved in an incident in Manama when a car carrying team personnel from their hotel got caught up in clashes betweeen Polic e and protestors and with firebombs feet away and teargas entering the vehicle their safety was at risk and it was only luck that no injury occurred.

 

Sponsors could still play a part if they risk damaging their brands by being in Bahrain and linked to deaths or injury to protesters. British MPs who called an early day motion for the race to be called off have urged sponsors to pull out of the event, meaning that cars if they do run may run without sponsorship. UBS, Gulf Air and DHL are the main sponsors with hoardings around the circuit and they may be the most visible companies to be involved with the race, Gulf Air are the title sponsor but are as a Bahraini company less likely to pull out.

Silverstone set to be alternative young driver test venue - April 17, 2012 by admin
Silverstone

Silverstone, Photo by Ligreq

Silverstone not that long ago and for much of Formula One’s history was the main testing venue for teams: not least because of its location close to most of the teams, and on the doorstep of Jordan, now Force India. With testing limited and mainly done in February and March teams inevitably wanted to go to circuits where they would be much less likely to have rain and where temperatures would be higher, closer to those they would experience during the season; Force India’s filming day launch run in February this year was done in near freezing temperatures: not what the Pirelli ribber is designed to run in.

 

With the chance of in season testing coming back though Silverstone could see testing return; teams want to replace the Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test with a test straight after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Such a test would mean that teams actually get more value out of the testing with data that they can then use on their existing cars, although in the past some parts for the next year have been bolted on to the current year’s car at Abu Dhabi.

 

Discussions are on going as to whether this change may go ahead and it could come as early as this season; the likely solution following discussions at the Chinese Grand Prix though is that teams may be given a choice over where and when to run.The issues that may need ironing out are whether cars running at Silverstone will miss out on trying out Pirelli developnt tyres and what will happen if it rains at Silverstone: though the likely solution is that teams can abandon Silverstone and go for Abu Dhabi instead if the weather forecast looks unpromising on the first day.

 

Whether it will be possible to split days between the two events is as yet unclear, nor is what will be done to ensure that the Silverstone test remains primarily a young driver test and not a testing session where an eligible test driver, which could include the likes of Gary Paffet or Marc Gene, test the cars to get the best results for use in developing the car for the second half of the season.

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.

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