No surprises on 2002 F1 Championship calendar

THE 17 race FIA Formula 1 World Championship calendar which was published yesterday contains no real surprises and there is as yet no indication of major break with its bedrock European program, despite hints by Bernie Ecclestone that he wants to site more races outside Europe to give the series a more authentically global flavor.

Despite assurances that Moscow and other venues in the Middle East are in the pipeline for the medium future, there has been no firm evidence that suggested rounds in Egypt, Dubai or even India might be realistic propositions over the next few years. Nevertheless, there may be a degree of rationalization in Europe to ensure that no country has more than one round of the Championship, although Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has pledged to fight with all the resources at his disposal to retain Italy's second race, the San Marino GP at Imola which is held at the emotively titled Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Imola is one of the races currently entered provisionally on the calendar pending the conclusion of a new commercial agreement, but Ferrari's negotiating support will almost certainly ensure its continuation. Likewise, the completion of the coroner's investigation into the circumstances of the accident which resulted in the death of a trackside marshal in Melbourne is not likely to jeopardize the first race of the season in Australia.

By the same token, Silverstone is expected to get the green light at December's FIA World Council meeting following a detailed inquiry and report into the traffic arrangements for this year's race. Next year access to Silverstone will be much improved with the completion of the new bypass which will help feed traffic to the circuit in a more structured and efficient manner.

Interestingly, there has been no comment from the FIA about the ramshackle infrastructure at Interlagos, home of the Brazilian Grand Prix, a venue which has been regarded for many years by F1 insiders as something of an anomaly on the F1 calendar at a time when high standards of organizational excellence have become the norm.

The dates announced are as follows:

PROVISIONAL 2002 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR

RD

EVENT DATE

1.

AUSTRALIAN GP 3 MARCH 2002

2.

MALAYSIAN GP 17 MARCH 2002

3.

BRAZILIAN GP 31 MARCH 2002

4.

SAN MARINO GP 14 APRIL 2002

5.

SPANISH GP 28 APRIL 2002

6.

AUSTRIAN GP 12 MAY 2002

7.

MONACO GP 26 MAY 2002

8.

CANADIAN GP 9 JUNE 2002

9.

EUROPEAN GP 23 JUNE 2002

10.

BRITISH GP 7 JULY 2002

11.

FRENCH GP 21 JULY 2002

12.

GERMAN GP 28 JULY 2002

13.

HUNGARIAN GP 18 AUGUST 2002

14.

BELGIAN GP 1 SEPTEMBER 2002

15.

ITALIAN GP 15 SEPTEMBER 2002

16.

UNITED STATES GP 29 SEPTEMBER 2002

17.

JAPANESE GP 13 OCTOBER 2002

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