Despite having failed to fill the gap on the 2013 calendar exposed by the cancellation of the proposed race in New Jersey, Bernie Ecclestone believes that F1 can expand beyond a 20-race schedule.
A second race in the USA, following hot on the heels of the successful debut event at the Circuit of the Americas last November, would have ensured that this year's calendar topped out at 20 races, but there are several candidates always waiting in the wings, either to replace one of the existing dates or simply add to them if agreement can be reached with the teams.
Ecclestone has regularly talked about stretching the schedule even further and, with the New Jersey event scheduled to return in 2014, reckons that there could be as many as 22 races next season, with Russia set to be joined by either Mexico or Thailand, both of which have claimed they could be ready in time for consideration. However, while the Russian event, set for the roads around Sochi's £32bn Olympic Park, is almost certain to be included, Ecclestone already has his eye on other countries he like to see included.
“Having races in the right place is what matters,” he told London's City AM
newspaper, “The teams could probably deal with 22 races.
“If I had the choice, I would like to go back to South Africa. I want to be in Cape Town - I have been offered Durban, but I think we would be better off in Cape Town.”
South Africa last hosted a grand prix in 1993, although there have been several projects that promised much but ultimately failed to deliver. Ecclestone has also talked up events on the streets of London and Paris over the years, and France was among the bidders to fill the vacant 20th spot on this year's schedule, along with Turkey, Austria and Portugal.
With doubts surrounding the viability of some events currently on the calendar, such as Korea and India, there may be opportunities for more than one new venue to emerge in the next few years.