Fighting to survive: Could this be the last Korean GP?

Ecclestone might cut financially troubled race while logistics may end New Jersey’s 2014 hopes

Yeongam

As the rows over Formula One’s proposed 22-race calendar for next year continue to rage in the paddock, it is ironic that the latest location for the arguments should be here in South Korea – one of the grands prix deemed least likely to make the cut.

An official sign on entry to the Korean International Circuit reads “Thank you Mr Ecclestone for the 2013 Korean Grand Prix,” but cynics think something this toadying is unlikely to facilitate is the cut in fees that the  financially imperilled circuit owners are seeking. They want a race next year to be as far back in the season as  possible to give them time to raise the necessary cash, whereas Bernie Ecclestone currently has it twinned with China in April.

As things stand, the 2014 season will be the longest in Formula One’s  63-year history, expanding it beyond the 20 races believed to have been agreed as part of the individual bilateral economic agreements signed between the teams and Ecclestone. But both Korea and the proposed new race in New Jersey are perceived to be  vulnerable, and with India being dropped because of the country’s  intransigent attitude to taxation, it is likely that there will be 20 races, with Austria and Mexico returning and Russia joining in.

If a race in New Jersey remains on the 2014 calendar on the weekend after Monaco, the teams face an near  impossible logistical challenge. The current calendar, which has an asterisk against three races, including the race on the US East Coast, features a novel “triple header” of Monaco, New Jersey and Canada on successive weekends from 25 May to 8 June.

“It’s something almost impossible, to be honest,” Ferrari’s Massimo Rivola told a news conference here when asked about the prospect. “But... we will see the real calendar and then we figure it out.”

The freight for a long-haul race like Canada has traditionally been sent on the Saturday of the previous week to allow plenty of time to clear customs and for teams to set up garages and prepare cars for Friday practice.

Sauber’s Beat Zehnder said any later shipment would have a knock-on effect. “I think we would have to start packing up on Saturday in Monaco to make it to Jersey,” he said. “If you’re only able to send your freight on a Monday or a Tuesday, it compromises your weekend quite a bit.”

Of the races likely to be included in the calendar, Austria’s A1-Ring is owned by Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz and thus makes perfect sense; Sergey Sirotkin has joined Sauber as part of a bold new sponsorship package, and thus Russia makes a strong contender. And with Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez currently racing for McLaren and Sauber respectively, Mexico also looks good. However, Perez’s position with McLaren could be tenuous even for next year, let alone in 2015 when Honda return and are likely to insist on another big name – Fernando Alonso’s was most memorably mentioned in Singapore  – to join Jenson Button.

Formula One is an internecine  affair. It is postulated that Ferrari are still trying to keep Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg on ice just in case Alonso does decamp early to McLaren – but also that the talented young German might fit the bill on a short-term  contract should McLaren decide to drop Perez.

While certainties might be few and far between on the political front, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg will all be staying put for next year and they were the dominant runners yesterday. Hamilton headed both practices for Mercedes, from Vettel, by 0.037 seconds in the morning and by 0.108sec in the afternoon.

“I was very happy with how it went today and it’s the first time I can  remember that second practice has  really gone well for me,” Hamilton said, sounding far more cheerful than he had been on Thursday. “The day just went smoothly. You need a good downforce package, too, and the car is feeling good. We can still make improvements overnight, and I have some things I want to do with the set-up, but it’s been a good start.”

The odds favour another win by Vettel after his triumphs in the last three races. He too spoke of room for improvement and predicted a close battle in qualifying.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam