At this point in the year the schedule for the next season has usually been released. Last year we saw the first draft of the 2009 calendar in June.
What’s the hold-up with the 2010 calendar, and what’s likely to be on it when it arrives?
Concorde Agreement talks
The political row which came to a head in the summer, and culminated in Max Mosley’s decision not to stand for election again this October, is partly to blame.
But with a new Concorde Agreement completed and signed by Mosley (and, presumably, the 12 remaining teams, though I’ve seen no confirmation of that) I expect we’ll see a draft 2010 calendar fairly soon.
The teams have indicated that F1 must have races in the major North American markets, which could be good news for American and Canadian fans. But as well as trying to get important events back on the calendar they need to make sure that others aren’t being lost.
Aside from that there’s little else to suggest what direction talks are heading in.
The British Grand Prix
Silverstone has recently been making loud noises about how it expects to keep the Grand Prix after all.
Meanwhile the circuit is drawing attention to the Moto GP round it has poached from Donington for 2010. The bike racing championship has confirmed its 2010 date and tickets are already on sale.
As Silverstone pointed out after the British Grand Prix in June, tickets for the next race usually go on sale the day after the last one. Without a date or venue confirmed, weeks of sales time and promotion have already been lost.
Several questions hang over the 2010 F1 calendar.
Fuji and Hockenheim, which respectively host the Japanese and German Grands Prix on rotation, have said they will not host F1 races in 2010. And it’s not a given that the circuits they share their races with will step up to fill the void.
The Nurburgring race organisers have said they cannot hold the German Grand Prix next year without a price cut. It?óÔé¼Ôäós not clear whether Suzuka, which is owned by Honda, can put on the Japanese round.
These events are among the most important for the manufacturer-based teams as they take place in some of the world’s largest car markets. If these two and the British round were to fall off the calendar for next year, the only country of the manufacturers’ five primary markets with a race with be China.
Are FOTA using their new-found influence to put pressure on Ecclestone to ensure these vital races aren’t lost? With a second car manufacturer in eight months announcing its departure from F1, now is not the time for it to become even less attractive a proposition for promotion.
The FIA has shown an appetite for rotating rounds of the World Rally Championship, and Ari Vatanen raised that possibility for F1 when I talked to him last month. Might that be a way of adding a more diverse range of venues without making the calendar longer?
The extended wait for a new calendar is another measure of how this year’s needlessly protracted political row has damaged the sport. With the Concorde Agreement now taken care of, hopefully F1 can soon return to business as usual.
Read more: 2010 F1 calendar