MARCH 27, 2000
THERE are increasing rumors that there will be a major shake-up in the Formula 1 calendar in 2001 and 2002. The likelihood of a Chinese Grand Prix is fading fast but it seems more and more likely that Dubai will win a place on the World Championship calendar in 2002. South Africa is also looking like a strong candidate despite the problems with currency exchange which have blighted Kyalami's ambitions to hold a race in 2001. The fact that the Phakisa Freeway circuit at Welkom in the Free State is backed by the local government means that this is now the most likely venue for a race. Rumors in Brazil suggested that Bernie Ecclestone may decide to drop the troublesome Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in favor of a race in South Africa.
The other big rumor at the moment is that Hockenheim is increasingly likely to lose the German GP when the current contract expires after the 2001 race. The owners of the track (the Badische Motorsport Club and the city of Hockenheim) are planning a major revamp of the circuit but the work is being stopped by environmentalists who are opposed to any of the trees around the track being chopped down, despite the fact that the planning includes three new trees for every one which is felled.
The current speculation is that the German GP tag will go to the Nurburgring (which has a deal until 2004) and the European GP will move to the vast new motorsport facility at Lausitz, between Dresden and Leipzig in the old East Germany. The aim is to have a 2.7 mile road course and a two mile oval and a secondary three-quarter mile oval. This has been financed in part and supported by the state government of Brandenburg.
The other European race which faces serious problems in the future is Imola because there is simply no space for the facilities to be improved as the space between the current paddock and the river is not sufficient. The only option would be to build across the river but this is likely to be met with considerable opposition from environmentalists as it would ruin what is otherwise a very pleasant little valley.
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