AUGUST 9, 2011
Pressure on for calendar expansion
It seems that the F1 calendar, which once upon a time teams said would never exceed 16 races, now looks set to break 20.
A provisional 2012 schedule doing the rounds at the Hungarian GP did not have a slot for the Turkish GP, which reached the end of its contract this year. The Turks originally baulked at paying the fees but now claim they are still in negotiation with Bernie Ecclestone about 2012 and beyond, at sports ministry level.
A new USGP in Austin, Texas, will be part of the calendar for the first time in 2012 and a Russian GP at Soichi is planned for '14. In the meantime, FIA president Jean Todt was in Mexico last weekend and said that a future return of the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, last run in 1992, is a future possibility.
It is thought that with between-race testing no longer part of the F1 landscape, Ecclestone sees no reason why the calendar should not expand beyond 20 races. The teams, however, are concerned about the impact on race team and factory staff and production schedules amid what is already a hectic round of activity at a time when staffing levels have been reduced in line with cost savings.