Though the Formula 1 calendar is already full to bursting point, further changes are a certainty in the coming years, with several countries keen to join the championship. Some deals are already in place, while others are merely waiting for Bernie Ecclestone to add his coveted signature to a contract.
Russia will join the calendar next season with a race at the Sochi International circuit. Located on the 2014 Winter Olympic site near the Black Sea coast, its backdrop includes the shoreline to one side and rolling hills to the other. After trying part of the track Sebastian Vettel declared it would be “a fun circuit to drive in a Formula 1 car," though the venue currently resembles a building site.
Also set to join the fun is a second US-based race. Originally scheduled to debut this year, the Grand Prix of America was postponed until 2014 after organisers failed to meet their contract conditions.
However these issues have now been settled. A race will take place at a 3.2-mile street circuit in New Jersey – with the New York skyline as its backdrop – and should run back-to-back with the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix.
Though no deal is yet done, Mexico is strongly tipped to add a grand prix in the near future. The country held a race from 1963 through ‘70 and again from ‘86 to ‘92, so the event has solid history, while the arrival of Sergio Perez and Telmex money has provided a significant boost.
The race would almost certainly run at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a circuit in Mexico City named after sixties F1 stars Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. It needs extensive refurbishment, but there are several wealthy men in Mexico keen to see it happen.
Bernie’s on board too. Speaking after last year's US Grand Prix in Texas, he commented that “half the people that went were Mexican. There is absolutely a lot of potential in Mexico.” A return to the Latin American nation is a distinct possibility for 2015.
Thailand is another prospective addition with the Asian nation planning a night race in Bangkok. A deal was believed to have been struck with Ecclestone last year and recently received approval from the Sports Authority of Thailand.
But the plans have hit a snag, with new legislation forbidding racing in the historic area of the city. That's not to rule out a Thai Grand Prix appearing in the near future: Bernie is keen and the money seems to be in place. All that's needed is an alternative location, be it in Bangkok or elsewhere in the country.
Of course F1’s set maximum of 20 races means any new additions will come at the expense of existing grand’s prix. While a Thai or Mexican event may sound exciting, fans will undoubtedly be less enthusiastic if it means we no longer visit historic venues like Silverstone, Spa or Monza.
But F1 doesn’t do nostalgia, and if Ecclestone smells fresh revenue streams the sport will undoubtedly follow. The calendar could look very different five years from now as grand prix racing continues to break new ground.
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