- The Inside Line
Ruminations on the 2014 provisional calendarKate Walker September 6, 2013
There's so much promise in a provisional calendar. New flight routes to figure out as races move around the calendar, hotels to book in cities both familiar and brand new, and the prospect of jumping through yet another set of visa procedures.
While the 21-race calendar published yesterday lacks official provisional status - it has to go in front of the WMSC, who next meet later this month - it sparked a flurry of activity in the paddock as we all turned to the internet en masse, seeking good value accommodation with that all-important free cancellation.
Three of the races on yesterday's calendar were asterisked, either because contracts are still being negotiated or the circuits themselves have yet to be homologated. Doubts will continue to linger over the likelihood of Korea, Russia, and Mexico until the official 2014 calendar is ratified by the WMSC in December.
And they could linger further still. The official 2013 calendar was published with that infamous late July TBA race that never came to fruition, and the amount of work needed to ready the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez means that the Mexican race is likely to retain its asterisk until somewhere around the 2014 summer shutdown.
But that doesn't mean that Mexico won't happen - the private backing from the likes of Grupo CIE (market leader in Latin America's entertainment sector) means that there's enough money floating around to ensure that construction efforts will not be delayed by budgetary constraints. There's always the potential risk of weather delays and other acts of god, but that's a truism that can be applied to any building work anywhere in the world.
The real weakling on the provisional calendar is Korea, which is the race most likely to disappear in the event that the teams dig in their heels over their preferred 20-race limit. That oft-trotted out argument about NASCAR teams competing 40 times a year is a tired one, as it fails to take into account the difference between an F1 travel schedule and the far less arduous demands of flitting between four time zones on one landmass with no visas necessary.
While Russia has been in the news recently thanks to their oh-so-progressive attitude towards gay rights, it's highly unlikely that the F1 world will drop the race in Sochi over anti-gay laws. We like to keep sport and politics separate, don't forget. Should Russia fall off the circuit it will be down to either late payments to the commercial rights holder, or delays to the last rush of post-Winter Olympics construction work.