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SBD Global/July 30, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone Says Indian Grand Prix Not Likely To Happen In 2014

Bernie Ecclestone said the Indian Grand Prix is not likely in 2014.
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has said the Indian Grand Prix will "probably not" happen in '14, according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. Ecclestone blamed "political" problems with the race, which has a contract to host a grand prix until '15. Indian motorsports federation President Vicky Chandhok said that Ecclestone and organizers the Jaypee Group "were trying to find a new date." Ecclestone said, "Is India going to happen next year? Probably not." Asked about the reason for his doubts, Ecclestone added, "Very political" (BBC, 7/29). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported reacting to the comment, Chandhok "confirmed next year's race was in question but said the grand prix still had a future beyond that." He said that race promoters Jaypee Sports Int'l and Ecclestone "were in talks to shift it from a late 2014 slot to early 2015 with an extension to 2016 to make up for the missed year." Chandhok said, "I work closely with both the Jaypee Group and Bernie. Apparently they are trying to find a mutually convenient date to start early in the year in 2015. With that in mind, 2014 obviously doesn't make logical sense and nobody can afford to have a late start in 2014 and then host another grand prix early 2015." There have been "bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, however, as well as concern about finances and the sport's exposure to high local taxation." Jaypee, which last month slammed the media speculation about next year's race as "totally baseless and malicious," hoped things will be sorted out. Jaypee spokesperson Askari Zaidi said, "We have not got anything in writing from the Formula One management regarding the status of the 2014 Indian Grand Prix" (REUTERS, 7/29).

PRESEASON TESTS: In Abu Dhabi, Gary Meenaghan reported the F1 "fraternity will descend on the UAE this winter ahead of next season's world championship, however whether the scheduled pre-season tests are held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or both remains to be seen." In Budapest this weekend, the 11 F1 team managers "held a series of meetings to discuss potential dates and locations for the three tests." It "has been agreed the first test will commence in Jerez, Spain," on Jan. 27, one week later than originally planned. The more pertinent question is where the second and third tests in February will run. There "is an acceptance that they will both be held in the Middle East in order to guarantee warm track conditions" (THE NATIONAL, 7/28). REUTERS' Baldwin reported Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain "are under consideration with Dubai" -- the only circuit of the three that does not host a grand prix -- seen as the current favorite. Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn said, "Middle East tests will get the weather we need to give the engines a good work-out. So the first test will be European and second and third will be based in the Middle East." He added, "We must do both tests at the same circuit so we don't have any logistical issues" (REUTERS, 7/29).

TALKING TIRES: The BBC's Benson also reported cars could use wider tires next season "because supplier Pirelli is concerned the current dimensions will be unsafe." Tires "will be under more stress next year because the new 1.6-litre turbo engines are expected to produce more power and torque than this year's 2.4-litre V8s." Pirelli believes this means it "will have to supply tyres with a bigger 'contact patch' with the track, to reduce stress." The company "is to decide later this week whether to demand the change" (BBC, 7/29). CRAIN NEWS SERVICE's Adam Cooper reported sources close to the FIA have confirmed that Michelin "has expressed an interest in returning to Formula One racing." While it has long been assumed that Pirelli "will remain the sole supplier in 2014, and has made commercial arrangements" with both teams and Ecclestone, the bottom line is that "it has not yet signed a deal" with FIA. Nor "has the FIA yet issued an official tender for the supply contract, which it would normally be expected to do." It is believed that Michelin's formal interest "would trigger a tender, and that the FIA will go through the motions of asking all possible suppliers if they are interested before considering the offers from those who are" (CNS, 7/29).
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