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The 1996 F1 calendar

THE first draft of the 1996 Formula 1 World Championship calendar was being quietly circulated in Budapest and there were a lot of unhappy people about when they heard the details.

The calendar is a long way from being finalized and often first drafts are used only to bring pressure to bear on promoters who are wavering on decisions for next year.

The draft calendar being circulated in Hungary included 18 races - two of them provisional - and has new events in Austria and Indonesia. The list of venues - no dates were given - did not include a United States Grand Prix in Las Vegas.

The F1 teams are unhappy with the calendar because it includes a vast amount of traveling early in the year - with events once again not being linked into sensible continental "tours". They want 16 races only but have accepted 17 this year as a special case. It is quite clear that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone wants to increase the number of races, the dispute is likely to end in conflict.

The proposed 1996 World Championship will begin in Melbourne, Australia. The next two races will be in Brazil and Argentina and then the F1 circus is expected to be back in Aida, Japan for the fourth race before the start of the European season at San Marino. The regular races in Barcelona, Monaco, Canada, France, Britain and Germany will follow and then there are two provisional events listed - Hungary and Austria. The end of the year features the usual races in Belgium, Italy and Portugal before the end-of-year flyaways to Japan and Indonesia.

The first official F1 calendar is not due until after the FIA World Council meets in Paris in October.

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