The 2002 Formula 1 calendar

TRADITIONALLY the first drafts of the following year's World Championship calendar begin to circulate in early August and it is expected that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will probably give team principals an outline of the calendar when they meet in Hungary in three weeks.

The word on the street at the moment is that there are not going to be any changes to the line-up although the German GP will probably be conditional on the rebuilding work necessary being finished in the time available. There is also likely to be a question mark over the British GP with the FIA expected to ask Silverstone to improve the traffic situation once again after more traffic problems this year. There may also be some pressure placed on Imola to make changes to the facilities as these have now fallen well behind the norm in F1 circles.

But beyond that the current structure seems likely to remain. With the same frequency of races between March and mid-October with a three-week midsummer gap. There is talk that the Malaysian GP may be run under floodlights, which would be great news for European TV viewers who would get the race in the middle of Sunday afternoon but there is still some opposition to the idea from the teams.

The promised expansion of F1 to new countries continues to be delayed. There is a lot of movement at the moment in the Middle East but none of the circuits will be ready before 2003 or 2004 at the earliest. It is a similar story in Asia where India is still waiting to start work on its planned F1 track near Calcutta, and China seemingly in the doldrums. It is worth noting that there were a group of Macau businessmen in the paddock at Hockenheim and this may be a hint that there are discussions about whether or not it would be possible to upgrade the Macau street race to F1 standard in order for it to become a Chinese GP. This would cost a lot of money but could be possible and would be the perfectly solution for F1's problems with China as the former Portuguese colony has run international races for over 20 years and so knows how to handle the necessary transportation problems and has the hotels which would be needed to support the event.

But a race in China is still a long way away and for 2002 at least it seems that little will change. The longer term the possibilities remain very restricted, particularly in the light of the fact that Bernie Ecclestone has just renewed the contract with the German GP for another seven years. Having two races in Germany and Italy makes little sense when one considers that the sport is supposed to have global ambitions.

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