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Formula 1 calendar rethink

As predicted in the last F1 FOREIGN REPORT, the 1995 Grand Prix calendar has undergone considerable change, just six weeks before the scheduled first race. The FIA, governing body of world motor sport, has announced that the start of the season is to be delayed by two weeks.

This news was greeted with enthusiasm from many F1 teams which were running short of time to build their new cars.

The F1 season had been due to kick off in Argentina on March 12, but the race in Buenos Aires race has now been put back to April 9 despite the fact that the circuit has now received official clearance from FIA safety inspector Roland Bruynseraede.

The delay has been made possible because of the postponement of the Pacific Grand Prix at Aida in western Japan. The race was pulled out of the World Championship as a result of the recent Kobe earthquake. This seriously damaged the local infrastructure and communications, making it very difficult for spectators to reach the remote track from Japan's big cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The local authorities in the Okayama prefecture felt that these problems might be overcome but decided that it would not be correct to be seen spending vast amounts of money to host the race while money could be better spent repairing the damage caused by the devastating earthquake.

The Pacific Grand Prix has been given a new date in October, just one week before the Japanese GP. The idea of having two Grands Prix within seven days in the same country is one which has never been tried before and while F1's popularity in Japan - and the demand for tickets for the races - is extraordinarily high, it is going to be a risk. Some sources suggest that the race will be quietly forgotten for this year, with the Hungarian GP - currently the reserve race - being included in the calendar in mid-August, which is currently a month without any races.

The Pacific GP switch has also meant that the European GP has been moved forward a week and will now be held on October 1, just seven days after the Portuguese GP at Estoril. This will give teams a major headache as they will now have to pack up rapidly in Portugal and transport everything on the long haul from Lisbon across Spain and France to the Eifel mountains.

According to the FIA, the circuits of Interlagos, Imola and Monza are all still in need of circuit approval from safety inspectors. Interlagos, which will now kick off the F1 season at the end of March, should be a foregone conclusion and work began last week at Imola after the Italian Minister of the Environment agreed to allow a US$6 million rebuilding plan to happen. This will see almost half the track being modified with special attention being paid to Tamburello Corner, where Ayrton Senna died last year, and to the chicane before the pits.

Speculation over the future of the Spanish GP at Barcelona has proved to be premature, with the Catalans announcing a new deal for the race until the year 2001. This effectively cuts Jerez out of the F1 scene. The new calendar is: March 26 Brazil (Interlagos); April 9 Argentina (Buenos Aires); April 30 San Marino (Imola); May 14 Spain (Barcelona); May 28 Monaco; June 11 Canada (Montreal); July 2 France (Magny-Cours); July 16 Britain (Silverstone); July 30 Germany (Hockenheim); August 13 Hungary (Budapest)*; August 27 Belgium (Spa); September 10 Italy (Monza); September 24 Portugal (Estoril); October 1 Europe (Nurburgring); October 22 Pacific (Aida); October 29 Japan (Suzuka); November 12 Australia (Adelaide).

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