Korea, and the 2013 Calendar

The Korean Grand Prix is something of an anomaly; the circuit is a strange one, with teams admitting it requires a unique approach, and the stands are largely empty. Korea is no hot-bed of F1 fanaticism, after all. It remains to be seen how long the government will be willing to prop up the event, but I would guess no more than a couple of years at best. Bernie Ecclestone is fond of expanding the calendar – 22 races have been mooted of late – but the teams are not. The 20 race schedule is already gruelling, even with the summer break. At present, the 2013 calendar looks as follows:

17/03 AUS Grand Prix of Australia
24/03 MYS Grand Prix of Malaysia
14/04 CHN Grand Prix of China
21/04 BHR Grand Prix of Bahrain
12/05 ESP Grand Prix of Spain (Barcelona)
26/05 MCO Grand Prix of Monaco
09/06 CAN Grand Prix of Canada
16/06 USA Grand Prix of Jersey (New York) *
30/06 GBR Grand Prix of Great Britain
14/07 DEU Grand Prix of Germany
28/07 HUN Grand Prix of Hungary
25/08 BEL Grand Prix of Belgium
08/09 ITA Grand Prix of Italy
22/09 SGP Grand Prix of Singapore
06/10 KOR Grand Prix of Korea
13/10 JPN Grand Prix of Japan
27/10 IND Grand Prix of India
03/11 UAE Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
17/11 USA Grand Prix of USA (Austin)
24/11 BRA Grand Prix of Brazil

This is the confirmed version, with only the New Jersey race marked as provisional. The previous, provisional, calendar also had the German, Singapore and Korean races as unconfirmed; Singapore has now extended its contract until 2017, and the Nurburgring race is also confirmed. Furthermore, New Jersey’s officials insist the race will go ahead, despite problems at board level.

Blink and you will miss it, but Valencia has vanished. With financial problems crippling Spain it is thought that the street race – never a great success – may alternate with Barcelona year by year. It is worth remembering that a race in Russia is slated, possibly as soon as 2014. My guess is that Korea would make way for it.

Another notable absence, although we have become somewhat used to it, is the French Grand Prix. There have been talks to revive either Magny Cours or Paul Ricard, and Ecclestone has made noises about a race near (or in) Paris. None of these have materialised, and in-fighting among politicians means that France is on ice for now. You may also have read of a proposed race around the Olympic Park in London. That, it must be said, is nothing more than a pipe dream, despite Bernie’s desire to race in the UK capital.

The F1 circus will go where the money is; at the moment, it is not in Europe. How things shape up in the next few years may be interesting, and there is talk of resurrecting a Grand Prix in Argentina and, less probably, Mexico. I would venture that, apart from New Jersey, the only new venue we will see in the next few years will be in Russia. Which makes Vitaly Petrov a popular man.

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