Assessing the 2014 F1 Calendar: Race Numbers, New Tracks and Circuits Axed
The 2014 Formula One calendar will have a very different look about it if the provisional calendar published on Autosport on Friday stays as is.
New races on the 21-strong season include Austria, Russia and Mexico, while there is no place for India or the New Jersey race which has yet again been held up by a lack of progress.
So it the new calendar better or worse for these additions and omissions? Let’s evaluate each individually.
In: Mexico City
Mexico City last held a Formula 1 race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 1992, and it is a fantastic venue. But organisers will be in a race against time to get the dishevelled old circuit up to modern-day standards in time for the November 9 slot.
It shouldn’t be a problem as the project is backed by entertainment giants CIA and Tavo Hellmund but the slot will be a worry to the Austin GP organisers, who could now lose all of the fans who travelled to the U.S. event from Mexico. Around 50,000 made the trip across the border for last year’s event, but, with the Mexico race scheduled for a week before, it’s unlikely to happen again.
One big draw for home fans will be McLaren driver Sergio Perez, who told the Daily Star that the race will be huge for the sport:
I’m very excited. It’s not confirmed yet, it’s just a pre-calendar but I feel there are very big chances now of this happening. It will be great for my country, great for the sport. Formula One will be amazed how popular this Grand Prix can become. ... It will be huge for Formula One as a sport to go there.
Verdict: It should be a huge hit.
Out: New Jersey
The absence of the New Jersey race from the calendar comes as no great surprise after Ecclestone told CNN last month "It's not on the cards for next year, they haven't got any money."
It’s a bit of a pity as the backdrop is a spectacular one, the circuit snaking alongside the Hudson river with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
The race had initially been scheduled for June this year, but Ecclestone ran out of patience in August 2012 after payment deadlines elapsed and race president Tom Cotter unexpectedly resigned.
Verdict: A shame it misses out.
The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi is set to go ahead despite missing its July 31 deadline to submit its application to the FIA as reported by Autosport back in August.
But with the FIA granting more time and construction preparations going ahead well, the venue looks set to make its debut on October 19 next season.
The schedule is for the race to be held a week before the Abu Dhabi event, and, according to Sebastian Vettel, it will be interesting to drive around the venue of the Winter Olympics.
I think it looks very interesting. Obviously a new track on the calendar for next year already and I’m looking forward to the race. I think it’s very interesting because we go around a couple of the stadiums. Right now it’s a building site but we will get a clue when the Olympics come here in the winter and then a couple of months later we will have the pleasure to come here when everything is brand new and finished and ready for Formula One so I’m looking forward to that.
Verdict: As Vettel says, it will be interesting to see what it’s like. The good news is the climate should be mild, but will fans turn up in numbers after Winter Olympic fever has died down?
Out: New Delhi
There are contrasting reports as to just why the Indian Grand Prix has been axed from the 2014 calendar.
According to the Times of India via PlanetF1, Bernie Ecclestone said the reason was that FOM and race promoter Jaypee Sports International (JSI) clashed on when they wanted to stage the race:
When we signed the five-year deal with Jaypee, we were keen on going to India in the first half and Jaypee wanted it to be in October. We gave in at that time, but now it looks we will have the race early 2015.
But JSI claimed they had no problem with an earlier March date, which suggests high customs duties and corporation and personal tax for the teams and drivers also played a role.
Sebastian Vettel won back-to-back races at the Hermann Tilke-designed Buddh International Circuit, which drew high praise from drivers due to its likeness to Spa-Francorchamps.
Verdict: If the political and scheduling issues can be sorted, it deserves a place on the calendar.
In: Red Bull Ring, Austria
The return of the A1-Ring is part of the Red Bull success story. Now rebranded the "Red Bull Ring," it was announced back in July that the circuit would return to the calendar.
That the Austrian Grand Prix returns to the calendar has much to do with the work of energy drinks mogul Dietrich Meteschitz, who ploughed a great deal of money into the venue to have it redeveloped after the A1-Ring fell off the calendar for financial reasons back in 2004.
The Red Bull Ring has since held rounds of the DTM championship and World Series by Renault, and it will be interesting to see how F1 cars tackle the new design.
Verdict: A big marketing coup for Red Bull, but the circuit lacks the grandeur and majesty of the old Osterreichring.