• The Inside Line

Thoughts on the 2014 calendar

Kate Walker December 5, 2013 « FIA confirms 19 races in 2014 | Honda admits to 2014 fears »
© Sutton Images

One season hardly has time to come to an end before we start thinking about the next one. At the last few races of the 2013 season, the press rooms were filled with screens displaying hotel websites as all and sundry made refundable bookings based on draft versions of the 2014 calendar that were doing the rounds.

And while much of the official 2014 calendar is unchanged since the most recent draft, the back end of the season has been shuffled around to accommodate the loss of Mexico without returning to a mid-November end date.

The World Motor Sport Council met Wednesday in Paris and dealt with all manner of business relating to the world of motorsport, from adding new members to the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission to setting out calendars for all of the Federation's championships.

As expected, the final 2014 calendar is missing three of the proposed races, bringing the total of grands prix back to 19 and dropping the logistically impossible triple-header that would have seen teams travel from Monaco to New Jersey and Montreal in three back-breaking weeks.

New Jersey had long been a no-hoper for 2014, however, and was included on draft versions of the calendar only so that the commercial rights holder could stick to its contractual obligations by creating a proposed slot for the race however unlikely it was that funding could be found and construction completed in time.

The loss of Mexico is a pity, for while there is currently a lot of enthusiasm in the country for a grand prix given the presence of two home drivers, neither Esteban Gutierrez nor Sergio Perez are currently under contract for 2014, let alone 2015, a more realistic target for rebuilding the pit and paddock complex and bringing the circuit back up to scratch.

And then there's Korea, which was off and then on and then off and then on. Now it's off for 2014, and few tears are being shed over the event that proved to be unpopular with fans, locals, and members of the circus, even if the drivers were quite keen on aspects of the track.

After four unpopular years with poor ticket sales, the Korean race organisers were trying to cut a deal with Bernie, and had been for months. Given the importance of the South Korean car market, and the number of tech manufacturers in the country, it's valuable territory for Formula One, and it's important for us to be there.

That should have proved to be a reasonable bargaining chip in the organisers' negotiations, but it appears that the two sides were unable to come to mutually agreeable terms. And when that happens, the result tends to be Bernie's terms or no terms…

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    Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to ESPN. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, her unique approach to Formula One coverage has been described as 'a collection of culinary reviews and food pictures from exotic locales that just happen to be playing host to a grand prix'.