APRIL 2, 2008
The expansion of F1
The second day of the Motor Sport Business Forum Middle East resulted in Formula 1 team bosses calling for the championship to be expanded to 20 races. During his keynote speech, McLaren's Ron Dennis fully supported the Formula One company‚Äôs expansion into new markets and said that 20 races would be the natural logistical limit for teams. He was supported by three other team bosses.
"I think 20 races is a big number but a sensible number," said Christian Horner of Red Bull. "It‚Äôs a huge logistical challenge but the way the teams are working with each other to self-regulate testing it is possible. For us the Middle East region is key to our development plan and it is very important that it has a strong presence on the calendar.‚Äù
Honda's Nick Fry said: "I think 20 Grands Prix is about right. The balance of traditional circuits in Europe and circuits in new continents is vital. Formula 1 needs to go where the commercial market is and that market is moving from Europe and North America to the Middle East and Asia."
Force India F1 Managing Director Colin Kolles added: "We should have 20 races but not more. The future is definitely the Middle East region. There is a lot of investment coming out of this region and that is what is needed in Formula 1.‚Äù
Dennis was very positive about the future of the sport, a future which he views with increasing optimism.
"I passionately believe that the most glorious chapters of Formula 1 are yet to come, as long as we maintain systems which encourage competitive racing via regulatory stability and foster entrepreneurial achievement yet reflect the world‚Äôs changing environment in its priorities. Then the future of Formula One can be every bit as glorious as we want it to be."
The two-day Forum is being held at the Bahrain International Circuit, the Home of Motor Sport in the Middle East, in the run-up to this year‚Äôs Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The event has raised enormous interest throughout the region and represents the first time it has taken place outside its traditional home in Monaco.
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