With just 16 days left in 2012, there are still some important loose ends yet to be tied up in F1 circles with the question mark over a 20th race for next year, the new Concorde Agreement requiring signature and some seats on the grid still to be filled.
According to its own statutes, the FIA has until January 1 to confirm the 2013 calendar, with a slot left open on July 21 for a race to replace the postponed New Jersey event at the recent FIA World Council.
That meeting and the FIA prize giving, took place in Istanbul and there were hopes during the days leading up to the meeting that Turkey might come back onto the calendar, but the Turkish government ruled out funding for an event. Red Bull has expressed an interest in filling the slot with a race at its A1 Ring in Austria, but this is also thought unlikely.
So as things stand it looks like a 19 race calendar will take place next season.
More pressing is the need to sign the new Concorde Agreement, between the teams, the FIA and the commercial rights holder, led by Bernie Ecclestone. The current one expires on December 31st.
The Concorde Agreement is essentially the labour agreement that binds in the three stakeholders for eight years and it’s the foundation of the leading F1 shareholder like CVC’s value in the business.
This still remains unsigned and loose ends to tie up; Ecclestone recently made a comment that he feels F1 could do with just 10 teams.
“I’d rather have ten. I never wanted twelve,” he told Reuters last week. “It’s just that ten is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have ten.”
HRT are already finished, but Marussia have been generating fresh investment and have lodged their entry and deposit for next season. It is believed that some funding has come from the Chilton family and there are other investors floating around the team.
With a Russian Grand Prix due to join the calendar in 2014, it makes sense for the team, which is bankrolled by Russian scientist Andrey Cheglakov, to remain in the sport so there will be a Russian team on the grid for the inaugural race. But unlike the other teams Marussia was not made a commercial offer by Ecclestone and seems to be in limbo. Ecclestone’s comment is no doubt a way of applying some pressure to resolve a blockage in the system somewhere.
There are also some seats yet to be confirmed with Romain Grosjean’s at Lotus the mots attractive. Although he has upset a lot of people in F1, it is thought likely that the Frenchman will be retained for 2013, as he also brings a significant budget from oils company Total. Back in 2010 the team confirmed its second driver on December 22nd, so they have a track record of leaving it late.
The two seats at Force India are not confirmed yet. Last year the team announced on December 16th, so it’s possible that we could see something next week. Paul di Resta is thought likely to hold onto his seat, while alongside him there is a suggestion that Adrian Sutil will make a return, possibly with Jules Bianchi playing some kind of role if there are visa problems due to Sutil’s criminal record. Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastian Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi have also been on the shortlist for some time.
At Caterham Bruno Senna is still hopeful of a deal, as is Giedo van der Garde, although both men’s hopes were dented when Vitaly Petrov secured the finish in Brazil that brought the team 10th place in the final Constructor’s championship and a multi-million pound payday. Petrov may be rewarded for this and for outpacing Heikki Kovalainen in four of the last five Grands Prix of the season.