Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - Page 19 News List

New Jersey, Mexico on 22-race Formula One calendar

Reuters, LONDON

A Russian Time GP2 car drives at the newly opened Sochi International Street Circuit in Sochi, Russia, on Friday. Russia will make its Formula One debut with a grand prix at the Winter Olympics venue on Oct. 5.

Photo: Reuters

Mexico and a new race on the streets of New Jersey were among three grands prix listed provisionally on a record 22-round Formula One calendar issued by the governing FIA on Friday.

The inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas, to be staged against a backdrop of New York’s Manhattan skyline, had looked doubtful earlier in the year, when it was absent from a draft calendar circulated to teams.

“The entire Grand Prix of America team is thrilled to join the 2014 FIA calendar and we look forward to bringing world-class Formula One racing to New Jersey,” race promoter Leo Hindery, Jr said in a statement.

The Korean Grand Prix, which moves from an October date to April 27, and the return of Mexico City as the penultimate race on Nov. 16 after a 22-year absence also had asterisks against them on the list published by the International Automobile Federation.

Russia will make its Formula One debut with a grand prix in Winter Olympics venue Sochi on Oct. 5 and Austria’s Red Bull-owned Spielberg circuit returns on June 22, after a decade off the calendar.

Whether the long-awaited New Jersey race is confirmed for June 1 remains to be seen, although commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and sponsors have long sought a grand prix on the East Coast.

The US also has a race in Austin, Texas, scheduled for Nov. 9. The Indian Grand Prix near New Delhi has been dropped, as previously announced, with organizers hoping to return in 2015.

The calendar — which has never before gone beyond 20 races — sees New Jersey sandwiched between Monaco on May 25 and the Canadian race in Montreal on June 8.

The novelty of a “triple header,” particularly the quick turnaround after Monaco, could pose considerable logistical problems for the teams and will fuel skepticism about it ultimately going ahead.

Many of the teams are wary of expanding the calendar, which has 19 races this year, beyond 20 rounds because of the impact on key personnel such as engineers and mechanics, as well as the extra costs involved.

“It remains to be seen which one is dropped,” one team principal said this month after seeing the earlier schedule that contained 21 races.

New Jersey had been due to make its debut last year, but that plan was postponed for financial reasons and Ecclestone has sounded repeated warnings since then.

The 82-year-old was quoted by CNN in August as saying that the race was “not on the cards” for next year because the organizers “haven’t got any money,” while telling Reuters separately that he had not written it off.

The season will start in Australia on March 16, followed by Malaysia two weeks later, and end in Brazil on Nov. 30.

Apart from the triple header, there will be five other back-to-back pairings if the provisional races are confirmed: Malaysia and Bahrain, China and Korea, Germany and Hungary, Russia and Japan and Austin and Mexico.

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