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NOVEMBER 1, 2004

Why there may have to be two Grands Prix in Japan

There is talk that there may soon be two Grands Prix in Japan and it is easy to see how that is going to happen. The current deal between the Formula One group and Suzuka runs out in 2006 by which time the Mount Fuji International circuit will be ready to challenge Suzuka for the deal. Suzuka is owned and financed by Honda; Toyota is owned and financed by Toyota. Upgrading work at Fuji will be finished in April next year and there will then be bids for a race in Japan. The problem is that the bidding is likely to go sky-high as Honda does not want Suzuka to lose the race and Toyota is insistent that the race moves to Fuji. Bernie Ecclestone could go on pushing both firms upwards in the bidding but the wisest course of action will be to get both to a high level and then take money from both companies. It would not be the first time that there have been two races in Japan as back in 1994 and 1995 there were races at Aida, billed as the Pacific Grand Prix. Having two races in Japan would require a switch-around of the F1 calendar as having races on consecutive weekends as happened before would probably not be very successful and the logical thing therefore would be to switch one to the start of the year, twinned perhaps with Australia, and the second at the end of the year, twinned with China. The other option might be a deal to alternate between the two venues although it has been many years since the concept was used in F1 and it is probably too expensive for each venue to invest with the promise of one race every two years.