Following Fuji's withdrawal from the calendar, the Japanese Grand Prix will return to Suzuka in 2010, it has been confirmed – as Valencia has similarly ensured that it will remain a fixture on the F1 schedule over the years to come.
It was revealed recently that Toyota
– which owns Fuji Speedway – had elected to give up the hosting rights to next year's Japanese Grand Prix as a result of the global economic recession. Fuji had been due to alternate with Suzuka – which welcomed F1 on every occasion from 1987 to 2006, before ceding its slot to its rival circuit – from 2009 onwards, but following the withdrawal announcement, Suzuka has stepped into the breach and will stage the event in 2009, 2010 and 2011, with next season's race penned in for 4 October.
“We are delighted that the Suzuka Circuit will now safeguard one of our most important national sporting events by playing host to the Japanese Grand Prix for the next three years,” commented Hiroshi Oshima, President of the Mobilityland Corporation which operates the track.
“I have done, and will continue to do, everything to make the Japanese Grand Prix successful,” added Formula One
Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, following fears in recent months that having pulled out of top flight competition itself at the end of last year, Honda – who own Suzuka – would not be willing to let F1 run at the track any more.
Meanwhile, it is also being whispered within the paddock that the European Grand Prix – won by Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello
today – has concluded a deal to keep F1 for at least the next five years. An agreement brokered by the sport's commercial rights-holder Ecclestone will see the local Valencian government fund the event at a reduced cost in conjunction with organisers Valmor Sports, reports the BBC
It has also been requested that the grand prix be shifted back two months from August – when stifling temperatures and the Spanish holiday season have been blamed for poor attendance figures and a palpable lack of atmosphere, casting the race's future into doubt – to October. It is understood that the inaugural event in 2008 earned some £350 million for the local economy.
Elsewhere on the 2010 calendar, it is believed that Canada is to be welcomed back, whilst doubts are rising about whether mooted grands prix in South Korea and India will go ahead as planned due to uncertainty over whether or not the circuits will be ready in time. The full schedule is due to be published in October.