Could F1 Be Down to 18 Races This Year?

No sooner did my monthly F1 news recap go live than news broke that the German Grand Prix could be off the calendar. Bernie Ecclestone told the German newspaper Spiegel that he and the bosses at the Nurburgring could not come to an agreement that was “financially acceptable” so negotiations had been terminated.

The Nurburgring went into administration (the European equivalent of bankruptcy) last year. However, being tight on funds looks to have resulted in the circuit being unable to pay Bernie’s more than likely exorbitant sanctioning fee to host the race this year.

The only remaining hope to save the German GP for this year is for the Hockenheimring to pick up the race in 2013. This would normally be an off-year for them in their alternating venue agreement with the Nurburgring. Given that Hockenheim and the Nurburgring share the race to save money, I wouldn’t be surprised that the German race is dropped from the calendar this season.

The likely result of the cancellation of the German round of the Championship would be that this year’s season would only be 18 races long. Ecclestone has been unsuccessful in finding a 20th race to replace the postponed Grand Prix of America at New Jersey.

The question is if he would be desperate enough to pad out the calendar that he would lower the sanctioning fee for what would effectively be a one-off race at the replacement venue. Turkey, France, Austria and Portugal were all interested host countries but all seem to have been priced out of contention by Bernie.

If there is no German Grand Prix or another replacement race, that would mean that F1 will have only four races during the thirteen-week stretch from June through August. In fact, Canada, Britain, Hungary and the summer break fall in such a way that only three races would occur during a twelve-week span.

The spacing of the races on the calendar would mean that F1 would go from being almost oversaturated (given how many back-to-back weekends are held) to effectively undersaturated in the summer. I may not have created a multi-billion dollar empire like Formula One but it doesn’t seem like a good idea to have supply so much lower than demand.

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