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Hungary on, Italy under threat

As predicted last week in F1 Foreign Report, the Hungarian GP will take place this year on its scheduled August 13 date. The FIA World Motor Sport Council, meeting last week at FIA headquarters in Paris, France, announced that the F1 World Championship will consist of 17 races this year - although the governing body insists that this is an exceptional case and will not be repeated in the future. The F1 teams have fought hard to stop the series expanding beyond 16 events.

It had been expected that the Pacific GP, scheduled to take place at Aida, Japan, in October, would be axed to make way for Hungary, but this is not the case as the Japanese now appear to have solved their problems over finding the necessary number of marshals to ensure circuit safety.

But do not count on there being 17 races because there are still very serious doubts about whether the Italian GP at Monza will actually happen. There are still major safety problems with the Monza circuit, and the Italian authorities have been dragging their feet over the problem because there is considerable opposition from environmentalists who do not want to see trees cut down to make space for new run-off areas. Last year's Italian GP was saved only after the intervention of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, but the FIA made a point of saying that a similar compromise would not be made in the future.

With 17 races on the calendar, the pressure is on the Italian authorities to get the work done or face the cancellation of the Italian GP - one of F1's most famous events. The Italian GP has been a part of the World Championship every year since the series began in 1950. The only time it was not at Monza was in 1980 when it was transferred to Imola because of safety worries at Monza, following the death of Ronnie Peterson in 1978.

The Italian authorities have been given until the next meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council on June 28 to give guarantees that the necessary work will be done. If those guarantees are not made, the Italian GP will probably be dropped.

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