As F1 heads into its summer break there are quite a few question marks hanging over the calendar for next year – especially races in two vital emerging markets – after F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said that the Indian Grand Prix would “probably not” happen next season, while the Russian Automobile Federation has missed the deadline to formally lodge the race at the new Sochi venue on the calendar.
Sochi has been given a provisional date of October 19, but a dispute between the RAF and the promoter in Sochi has led to the missed deadline. According to a statement by the RAF, “The application to the FIA for submitting the Russian Grand Prix to the 2014 Formula 1 calendar was not sent in proper time as JSC Omega (Promoter) didn’t fulfil the necessary conditions.
“That is: (the promoter) didn’t sign a contract with the Russian Grand Prix organiser, didn’t sign a deal for an application submission and also didn’t pay a fee to the FIA for including an event on the FIA F1 calendar.
“RAF informs that it is ready to include the Russian Grand Prix on to the FIA calendar under force-majeure conditions, permissible by the FIA, as soon as the promoter fulfils all the necessary formalities.”
It is likely that this will be sorted out and it may not be the last wobble before the event takes place.
Ironically Russia had been earmarked for the late October slot currently occupied by India, which has been asked to move its race to earlier in the year. Both races are in important emerging markets for F1, which is able to tick the box of all four BRIC countries, regarded in recent years as powerhouse growth areas for business. The others are China and Brazil.
Earlier this week Bernie Ecclestone said that India would probably not happen in 2014, as it cannot cope with two races close together (end of 2013 and start of 2014) but would reappear in early 2015. There is more to the problems in India than just the logistical issue of them hosting races soon after each other.
The event has proved a nightmare for teams and FOM due to the incredibly complex red tape involved in going there, especially with respect to tax laws. Teams have to fill out endless complicated forms to ensure that they do not end up paying tax in India on their earnings abroad.
But last month, the race’s promoter Jaypee Sports International issued a statement reiterating their commitment to hosting a race.
“Our agreement with Formula One Management is to hold F1 races at Buddh International Circuit (BIC) till 2015 and we are fully committed to do that,” said Jaypee spokesman Askari Zaidi in that statement. “There is no reason for us to give up hosting F1 races.”
Sauber’s Indian-born principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: “It would be a pity if for these (tax) reasons we don’t go there. India is an important market for partners who are already in Formula 1 or who could get into Formula 1 because of that market so it really would be a pity if we would not manage to sort out these problems.”
The event, which has a contract to host a race until 2015, drew positive reviews after its debut in 2011 with a third race scheduled to take place at the end of October this year.
The teams are keen to keep the calendar at a maximum of 20 races per year, but there are a potential 22 races on the table for 2014.
In addition to this year’s 19 races, Russia is set to join – pending resolution of its current issue – while a second race in the United States in New Jersey is also planned, although there is doubt in F1 circles whether this will happen, after it missed its initial date.
And earlier this month, Red Bull announced it has struck a deal to bring Formula 1 back to the A1 Ring in Austria from next season until 2020, although there are some local planning issues to be resolved before the event is rubber stamped.
The season looks set to start in early March in Australia, despite some suggestions it might open in Bahrain, while pre season testing in warm weather in Dubai looks to be on the cards.