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The Formula 1 calendar

THE FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Paris last week and announced a provisional Formula 1 calendar for 1999. There are 17 races and the dates are much as expected with the only surprise being that Argentina has been left out and China drafted in as a possible replacement. Malaysia is also on the calendar but the October 17 event is also provisional.

The races in San Marino and Hungary have to solve problems before they get firm dates while the short-lived Luxembourg Grand Prix is no more, although there will be a European GP at the Nurburgring instead.

It is not clear why the races in China and Malaysia are provisional but we understand that China still has to sort out problems relating to tobacco sponsorship. Giving the Chinese a provisional date puts pressure on them to sort out the problem and at the same time puts pressure on Argentina to solve its financial difficulties. On Friday last week the organizers of the Buenos Aires race announced that they had given up because of the economic crisis but another group of promoters is now working with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration to try to solve the problem.

Malaysia is provisional because of the economic problems and serious unrest in the country. Last week police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a demonstration outside the National Palace calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and for the release of jailed finance minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Hungary will not get a firm date until the organizers come up with a plan to stop another track invasion while the San Marino GP at Imola is in difficulties because of the failure of Italian politicians to vote through changes to the law.

Provisional Formula 1 calendar for 1999:

March 7 Australia

March 21 China

April 11 Brazil

May 2 Imola

May 16 Monaco

May 30 Spain

June 13 Canada

June 27 France

July 11 Britain

July 25 Austria

August 1 Germany

August 15 Hungary

August 29 Belgium

September 12 Italy

September 26 Europe

October 17 Malaysia

October 31 Japan

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