F1 » 25 June 2012
Boullier sees no reason to avoid F1 calendar growth
Expanding the current F1 schedule may actually be good for the sport, explains Lotus team boss Eric Boullier.
Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier has conceded that expanding the world championship calendar beyond its current 20 races may not be the headache that some of his rivals have suggested it may be.
In the run-up to last weekend's European Grand Prix, the F1 rumour mill was alive with stories of a possible expansion to 23 rounds once the next edition of the Concorde Agreement is signed off by the teams, FIA and Formula One Management, and the question of the viability of further races naturally arose during the team principals' press conference on Friday.
While Toro Rosso's Franz Tost jokingly suggested that, with 52 weeks in the year, there was no reason not to have 26 races, Boullier was a little more practical in his assessment of the situation.
"I think you have two philosophies," he reasoned, "Is it going to be like NASCAR, with 38 weekends, or staying around 20. The true question is [by going] over 20 grands prix, we have to reconsider our structure, because we obviously have a team personnel issue, [and a] travelling and logistical issue.
"We can speak about cost-saving, but more grands prix means more revenue for F1 and the more countries we can visit is the more countries we can bring F1 to fans. There is no exact number, no magic number I guess, but I'm rather like Franz - more races, why not?"
Bernie Ecclestone is not short of applicants to fill existing or proposed gaps on the schedule, with a second race in America and those in France, Mexico and Russia heading a list of candidates that also includes Argentina, Thailand and, if rumours are to be believed, Greece.
The three drivers involved in Saturday's post-qualifying press call were questioned on their opinion about visiting the impoverished European nation, which is apparently working on either a street circuit around the capital Athens or a permanent facility close to Patras, the country's third largest conurbation. While the arguments remains that boosting tourism is the key to boosting the Greek economy, building a circuit just to attract F1 is the height of irresponsibility for a nation that has been receiving bail-outs from other members of the EU.
"I've only ever been to Greece once," Lewis Hamilton revealed, "I went years and years and years ago with Nico Rosberg. We went on holiday there when I was about 13, and I've been dying to go back ever since.
"I imagine, at some stage in the future, once the world and Greece is past the stage they're in now, I think we would welcome a race – at least I would."
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