F1 Venues Fight To Stay On Racing Series Calendar For 2014 Season
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has already dumped India from next season’s calendar amid claims that government bureaucracy and tax regime threaten to strangle the newest race to join the sport’s roster," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. India’s first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan "has appealed to his government to step in to save the race from failure." The Indian venue "is not the only one in question, though." Officials in Sochi, the Russian venue joining next year, "have been forced to issue reassurances that they will be ready for their projected date, thought to be next autumn, while there are continuing doubts over the viability of the grand prix scheduled for New Jersey." Unlike any other sport that has fixed points, years in advance in some cases, in their calendars, F1’s schedule "will be fluid probably all the way to the end of this year, which means circuits and promoters are unable to plan or put tickets on sale." F1’s desire to push into new markets "has not been without its hazards, as the sport discovered when it set up camp in a deserted Mokpo in South Korea, another race in serious doubt." Few believe it "will clamber on to the calendar again next year after a series of financial calamities." India, though, "is a huge target for growth and development if the sport can settle its differences with the authorities." In the past, equipment "has been held up at air and seaports while India’s cumbersome customs and immigration authorities have cranked into action apparently unaware of the high-speed demands of F1." Threats to tax drivers and teams "have also made the sport wary" (LONDON TIMES, 8/1).
RUSSIAN GP: AUTOSPORT's Aleksander Kabanovsky reported Russia "has missed the deadline to submit its application to the FIA to hold a Formula 1 race in 2014." Although work is ongoing at the Sochi venue, and organizers announced last week that they had pencilled in an Oct. 19 date, "doubts have been cast on the event amid a dispute they are having with the Russian Automobile Federation" (AUTOSPORT, 8/1).
CLOSING TIME: In a separate piece, Eason opined "Eccleston was in my hotel. Breakfast was over and I was on my way to pick up my bags to head to the Hungaroring when I spied Formula One’s ringmaster sitting quietly in a corner with Fabiana, his lovely wife." There was "a certain weariness in the handshake although his greeting was as cheery as usual." Perhaps "I exaggerate but when I saw him the other day, in that hotel with a wife half his age and a diary bulging to bursting point, with a retinue of lawyers to talk to and disaffected team owners banging on the door of his daunting blue motorhome, I wondered about Bernie and where it is all going to end." At 82, "Bernie has done so much, achieved so much, made so many people rich and created so many jobs in the motor racing business, yet these suffocating summer days have the whiff of the fall of empire about them" (LONDON TIMES, 8/1).