The Formula 1 calendar

The Formula 1 team bosses met at Hockenheim on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Formula 1 calendar for next year and ways in which the sport can be improved to create more interest. The bosses were tight-lipped about the calendar talks but it seems that there are still too many races and that one is going to have to be dropped to get the calendar down to 17 events. Austria is definitely out but there are three races coming in (or returning): Bahrain, Shanghai and Spa. This means that there are 18 events vying for 17 dates. The suggestion has been that Imola would lose the San Marino Grand Prix but if there is still discussion the number of events one must assume that the event is still in with a chance but presumably only if it agrees to major upgrading work.

It would also indicate that despite all the quibbling over the British GP the event will go ahead next year and it suggests that the Belgian Grand Prix will be back on the calendar. The likelihood of this happening is good as the Belgian Parliament has now agreed to accept an amendment to the country's tobacco ban which will allow tobacco advertising for F1 until the middle of 2005. The amendment will become law after the law is signed by King Albert II, which is in effect just a formality. However, it is probably not that simple as a new contract will be needed and Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is sure to be asking for rather different terms from the Belgians than was the case with the old contract.

It is not yet clear what will happen if all 18 events do materialize but it is always possible that Ecclestone will try to convince the teams that an extra race should be added. This would require the agreement of all the signatories of the Concorde Agreement.

As for the actual dates of the races, there is still no definite list as negotiations are continuing so any calendars which have been published as fact should be treated with great care.

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