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The F1 calendar and other decisions

THE FIA World Motor Sport Council announced a variety of decisions after last week's meetings in Paris. The most important announcement was the F1 calendar which was much as we predicted. There will be 16 races although it is likely that the French GP will be re-admitted to the calendar and the series will therefore have 17 races once again. They will be:

March 08 Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)

March 29 Brazilian GP (Sao Paulo)

April 12 Argentinean GP (Buenos Aires)

April 26 San Marino GP (Imola, Italy)

May 10 Spanish GP (Barcelona)

May 24 Monaco GP

June 07 Canadian GP (Montreal)

July 12 British GP (Silverstone)

July 26 Austrian GP (Spielberg)

August 02 German GP (Hockenheim)

August 16 Hungarian GP (Budapest)

August 30 Belgian GP (Spa-Francorchamps)

September 13 Italian GP (Monza)

September 27 Luxembourg GP (Nurburgring, Germany)

October 11 Portuguese GP (Estoril)

November 01 Japanese GP (Suzuka)

The Portuguese GP remains provisional subject to the completion of its $6m improvement program and a suitable commercial deal with the FIA. The race was droppd from this year's calendar.

The French GP may be a more difficult problem because of the ongoing dispute over broadcasting rights to the race. Max╩Mosley is due to meet French Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet this week to discuss the problem because the privately-owned TF1 channel has paid for the exclusive TV rights for the event. The state-funded FR3 claims it can broadcast any event on French territory and this argument has been upheld in a French court. Mosley has pointed out that the problem needs to be solved before the Football World Cup which is due to take place in June next year.

The council also announced an array of minor changes to the F1 regulations. The number of wet tire compounds has been restricted to three but teams have been allowed an extra set of dry tires for each car, bringing to 10 the number of sets allowed for each event.

There will no longer be a limit to the number of laps allowed on Fridays but there will be no more extra days of practice at new racing tracks. If a car stops on the track during a qualifying session and the driver receives assistance to get back to the pits, his fastest time will be canceled. Drivers caught speeding in the pitlane will be fined $250 for each kilometer per hour they are over the speed limit.

The start procedures have been lightly altered so that any car which does not have all four tires fitted when the five-minute signal is given will have to start from the back of the grid. If rain starts after the five-minute signal the start will be aborted and teams will have the chance to fit different tires.

The size of rear-view mirrors and side headrests has been increased slightly and engine oil breathers must now be fed back into the engine to avoid oil being spilt on the track. Cars will also have to carry at least two onboard cameras or the equivalent ballast. One of these must be on the top of the main roll hoop.

For the first time the governing body gave some complicated details of the structure of the TV money payments to be made to F1 teams, although the governing body did not reveal the actual figures involved.

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