The F1 calendar 'leaked' to the paddock and beyond during the recent Singapore Grand Prix was labelled as 'provisional' and it is just as well, as it looks entirely possible that its make-up could change even in the next few weeks.
While much has been made about the doubts still surrounding the viability of the second F1 race planned for the United States next year [see separate story
], another fixture included on the list could also be in jeopardy, as stories emerge that a deal still has not been struck to keep Germany on the schedule beyond 2012.
The race, one of only seven European rounds included on the 20-strong calendar, was among the four - including New Jersey - that carried an asterisk marking them out as having issues that needed resolving before they could be cemented into travel plans. Singapore and Korea were also included, although the former can now be considered a definite stop on the schedule after a new five-year deal was announced ahead of Sunday's race, but Germany's position could be the most precarious as expected host Nurburgring continues to face financial woes, with no guaranteed safety net in the shape of Hockenheim, despite Bernie Ecclestone's initial assertion that the race could be switched to its 2012 venue in the case of emergency.
Indeed, Ecclestone's latest claim, reported in the Financial Times
would suggest that the Nurburgring - in its original form, one of the most fearsome grand prix venues in the world - has staged its last F1 race, with the event only running at Hockenheim in future. That, however, overlooks the fact that Hockenheim entered into an alternation with its rival as neither could bear the cost of an annual place on the calendar, and it remains to be seen how it will react to effectively having its arm twisted to revert to the more costly past.
Should it be unwilling to stage a race every year - and it would likely take some hefty financial inducement from Ecclestone to do so - Hockenheim may find a willing partner for alternation in whichever French circuit eventually emerges as the favourite to bring F1 back to its homeland. Both Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard recently tabled bids to become the new home of the French Grand Prix, but this week's news that there will be no state backing for the event [see separate story
] casts the situation in a new light.
While both bidders are likely to be called to meet with the French motorsport federation to examine other possibilities for putting the race back on the calendar, Le Parisien
claims that Paul Ricard had already anticipated the government's decision and has private investors lined up to ensure that it is able to stage the grand prix as and when it is reinstated on the calendar. L'Equipe
, meanwhile, insists that the French Grand Prix could still appear on next
year's calendar, although not necessarily in Germany's traditional slot..
“We would have appreciated a few words of support and encouragement [from the government] and we are disappointed, but [the decision] was completely expected,” ,” Paul Ricard director Stephane Clair told the report, before going on to hint at interest in a September date, “I can quite imagine a Grand Prix de France in 2013 and, after the summer break, the teams would be ready to contest three grands prix consecutively in Belgium, France and Italy."
Meanwhile, as the F1 schedule continues to take in fewer and fewer European venues, two other suitors continue to express their interest in joining the fray.
The Bangkok Post
reports that Thailand has agreed terms with Ecclestone to add a street race in the capital from 2014, possibly aping the successful night race format that has made Singapore a 'modern classic'.