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Valencia, Barcelona open talks

Spain could yet revert to alternating venues as the economy bites at race hosts.

The Spanish Grand Prix could yet alternate between Barcelona and Valencia after the two cities began talks aimed at preserving their place on the F1 calendar without enduring extra expense.

Both venues - Valencia's street circuit and Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya - have revealed that they cannot afford to continue with their existing agreements without a reduction in the cost of staging an F1 weekend, prompting Bernie Ecclestone to suggest they consider alternating as host in the same way as Hockenheim and the Nurburgring do in Germany. However, until now, the two sides have been reluctant to discuss the idea [see story here].

"We should not have two races there," Ecclestone, unaware of the developments, told Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten at the weekend, "I have suggested alternating between Barcelona and Valencia, but the Spaniards do no want to discuss it."

Spanish news agencies EP and EFE both claim that 'informal talks' are now underway between the two parties, with a possible view to starting the alternation in 2013.

While Barcelona has also announced that it cannot expect to carry on as a host under its current conditions, it is representatives of the Valencian regional government that have been in touch with Ecclestone to explain their case for a revised contract. Acknowledging that cancelling the event is not financially viable, the regional office has even met with Ecclestone in London to attempt to revise the terms of their deal, but now appears to accept that an alternative solution may be the best [see story here].

While Ecclestone appears to be spoiled for choice when it comes to potential venues, he clearly recognises that the global economic climate is going to have an effect on F1, particularly for the teams.

"We could conclude agreements with five new venues today," he continued in his Austrian interview, "The demand is high, [and] there is great interest from Mexico. It could cost us more races and the teams more money because staff would be doubled, but we could find solutions."

Indeed, it is within the teams that Ecclestone sees more problems arising from the economic crisis.

"[BMW, Toyota and Honda] had good reasons to go and save their money because they just weren't successful enough and didn't get the media coverage they wanted, it's as simple as that," he reasoned, before offering some comfort when it came to those remaining involved in the sport, “Due to the length of our contracts, we are almost immune - but, if the situation does not change globally, we must be prepared for problems."

Turkey has already dropped off the calendar after failing to attract sufficient spectator numbers to justify the cost of hosting a round of the world championship, and doubts continue to hang over the likes of Korea and Belgium, as well as Spain. The USA, financial barriers notwithstanding, expects to return this year, with Russia following in 2014. All twelve teams will return in 2012, although there are doubts supported by claims from 2011 driver Tonio Liuzzi, whether HRT will come up with the finance it needs to compete without hiring two pay drivers.



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Caroline - Unregistered

January 23, 2012 11:13 AM

"BMW, Toyota and Honda had good reasons to go and save their money because they just weren't successful enough and didn't get the media coverage they wanted, it's as simple as that." It doesn't help when a large portion of the UK's F1 coverage will be hidden away behind a pay wall, resulting in a AVE brand exposure loss to F1 sponsors averaging GBP 3.4m per race. 2010 figures and assuming Sky get less than 1.1m viewers per race.

Caroline - Unregistered

January 24, 2012 11:33 AM

@richard There's a difference between, viewings, viewers and unique viewers. Unless somehow there's going to be an increase in unique viewers (which is what FOM now calculate from), nothing will change. But if you watch on multi platforms and multi showings, it makes no difference, focus groups have estimated that there will be a 10 to 12% drop in unique viewers. But we'll have to wait and see. All I'm doing is passing on the information.



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