Bernie Ecclestone has warned F1 fans that their sport will increasingly move away from its European heartland, with venues in other areas of the globe still willing to invest for spots on the calendar.
The F1 ringmaster was quoted by the Spanish press that, in his view, the make-up of the season could change so much that there would only be five races left in Europe, with the rest of what could be a 20-race schedule situated in Asia, Africa and the Americas. There were nine races in Europe this season, and each of the twelve teams are based on the same continent, but Ecclestone points to the loss of Turkey in 2012 - after confirming that the race would not
be revived to replace Austin - as significant to the way the tide is turning.
"I think, in the next few years, Europe will be left with only five races," Ecclestone told Marca
, "I think Europe is finished - it will be a good place for tourism but little else. Europe is a thing of the past."
Although the current financial meltdown is affecting much of the world, it is particularly noticeable in Europe, and Ecclestone is hardly short of alternatives, with one - if not necessarily two, American races due to join the schedule by 2013, and others lining up to be a part of a world tour that has gained the likes of Abu Dhabi, India, Korea and Singapore in recent years.
Although not every new addition has worked out - Turkey and Korea come to mind - Ecclestone listed Russia, which is due to debut in 2014, and former hosts such as Mexico and South Africa as the most likely to the schedule in the coming years, with Autosport
also reporting that a return to central America has influential supporters elsewhere.
Carlos Slim Domit, whose telecoms billionaire father is already a backer of the Sauber team, insists that Mexico deserves a spot of the calendar as soon as possible.
Slim Domit is currently working with entertainment company CIE to bring F1 back after an absence of nearly 20 years, and believes that the likes of Sergio Perez and rising star Esteban Gutierrez can help lead that campaign.
"I embrace the idea and believe that a new race for Mexico is what, in colloquial English, is referred to as a 'no-brainer'," he wrote in a column for FIA in Motion
magazine, "Mexico has long been close to F1, closer to it indeed than it has been to many other racing series that have visited the country. The rise of a new generation of Mexican racers has only served to boost the interest in F1 [and] the potential of these young drivers has reawakened interest in F1 beyond hardcore fans. The huge crowds who flocked to see Perez's F1 demonstration in his home town earlier this year attest to a new-found popularity for the sport that should be capitalised upon.
"Linking races in Canada and the US with a Mexican round would perfectly consolidate Formula 1's footprint in North and Central America and provide a viable bridge to the race in Brazil," he said.
Slim Domit confirmed that the country wasn't short of potential venues for F1's return, including the most recent possibility in the tourist resort of Cancun along with others, such as in the 'second city' of Guadalajara.