The spectre of 19 races

The FIA World Council has blocked 19 dates for Formula 1 races in 2005 and that is likely to send alarm bells ringing in the Formula 1 community where there has been much griping in recent times about the need to cut costs. One of the few things on which the teams agree is that increasing the number of races increases the costs. The fact that there could be an extra race (Turkey will be coming into the F1 calendar) is not going to help anyone apart those who are getting rich and not visiting all the events. There is sure to be an increase in the current drop-off that is going on in the coverage of the sport because fewer news organizations are showing themselves willing to invest the money needed to send staff to all the races, particularly as the racing is being dominated by Ferrari.

The fact that the calendar includes no fewer than four back-to-back pairs of events will add to the pressure on the teams. There is still a two-week break in August but the schedule in Europe is going to be tougher than ever with the first three European event taking place within four weeks of one another.

While this calendar may suit those making lots of money in the sport, it is worth pointing out that those deciding the calendar do not have to live the lifestyle and so are well out of touch with how tough it is, particularly when one is not flying around on a private jet.

There is also a major question mark about whether or not the TV companies are really interested in broadcasting 19 events because interest this year has been falling and the TV companies are less than happy that the qualifying has been left unchanged.

The teams are only bound to accept 17 races but in the past have shown themselves willing to acquiese to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on the understanding that he pays them more money.

The 19-date format would seem to suggest that the San Marino Grand Prix will scramble through to survive another year.

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