SEPTEMBER 21, 2002
What happens now with Beirut, Turkey and Egypt?
The announcement that Bahrain has secured a Grand Prix from 2004 onwards will come as a major blow to the ambitions of other Middle Eastern states that wanted to be the first to bring Grand Prix racing to the region. Egypt and Beirut must now reconsider their plans for races as the restrictions that exist on the F1 calendar will mean that there is unlikely to be a second Middle Eastern race in the short term. And given the fact that F1 is expanding (or at least trying to) in America and the Far East the pressure is really going to be on when a date does come up.
But, whether they like it or not, and whether the races are profitable or not, there is going to come a point at which the ability of Germany and Italy to have two races apiece is going to come to an end. The smaller countries are likely to be priced out of the market and so one can expect a race like Austria to disappear fairly quickly. Hungary will be fine until the day that a Russian venue gets its act together.
Some may argue that it is a better idea for F1 to expand to 20 races and cut down testing but the current philosophy is that keeping the calendar pegged pushes up the price much more effectively - while maintaining the aura of F1 as something a little special. And that is how it should be.
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