Three races endangered on 2017 F1 calendar
The FIA has confirmed that three longstanding F1 grands prix are at risk of being left off the schedule after it published the 2017 calendar on Thursday morning.
Formula One’s governing body released the provisional list of races after a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, but the Canadian, German, and Brazilian grands prix all remain in doubt and are “subject to confirmation” by the commercial rights holder.
Both the Canadian and German grands prix have histories of protracted commercial negotiations, but the announcement that their race was in doubt caught Brazilian Grand Prix organisers off guard.
“The Brazilian Grand Prix Organisation took notice with surprise of the 2017 F1 WC [world championship] calendar,” the race promoter said in a statement.
“There is a contract in place until 2020, every provision of which will be complied with, as it has been for the past 45 years.”
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been held at Interlagos since 1990, with Interlagos and Jacarepaguá sharing hosting duties irregularly between 1972 and 1989.
The announcement comes against a backdrop of political and economic turmoil in Brazil. Former President Dilma Rousseff was stood down in May and impeached last month, and plummeting oil prices have contributed to the country’s worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.
Also contributing to Brazil’s woes are ongoing negotiations between Bernie Ecclestone and Brazilian F1 TV broadcaster Globo, with the former arguing for the latter to increase its level of Formula One coverage.
Few people expect the problem to be anything more than sabre-rattling, however, and the race is likely to go ahead.
The German Grand Prix’s problems have been well known since the 2015, when the event failed to materialise after owners of the Nürburgring circuit backed out of their hosting contract citing unreasonably high hosting fees.
Last year’s race was officially called off in March after Ecclestone was unable to convince Hockenheimring’s managers to pikc up the cost.
Hockenheim’s economic situation is also precarious, however, and the circuit has thus far been unwilling to commit to an annual loss-making exercise.
Rumours at this year’s German Grand Prix, however, suggested the owners of the Hockenheimring could be poised to split the risk of the additional race between themselves and Formula One Management to ensure the continuation of the race.
Finally, the Canadian Grand Prix signed a 10-year contract extension in 2014, but the deal was contingent on a long-awaited new pit building, control tower, and medical centre.
Work was due to start at the end of this year’s race, but Montreal mayor Denis Coderre was forced to admit the project was behind schedule when Ecclestone first threatened to leave the race off the 2017 calendar in June.
Evidence of progress would presumably be enough to satisfy the contract conditions and allow the race to go ahead.
Assuming all three races go ahead, the sport will be set for a 21-race season for only the second time in its history.
PROVISIONAL 2017 CALENDAR
|26 March||Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne|
|9 April||Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai|
|16 April||Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir|
|30 April||Russian Grand Prix, Sochi|
|14 May||Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona|
|28 May||Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo|
|11 June||Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal*|
|18 June||European Grand Prix, Baku (Azerbaijan)|
|2 July||Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg|
|9 July||British Grand Prix, Silverstone|
|23 July||Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest|
|30 July||German Grand Prix, Hockenheim*|
|27 August||Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps|
|3 September||Italian Grand Prix, Monza|
|17 September||Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang|
|1 October||Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay|
|8 October||Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka|
|22 October||United States Grand Prix, Austin|
|5 November||Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City|
|12 November||Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo*|
|26 November||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina|