May 7 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Bernie Ecclestone is ramping up the pressure with his “leaked” provisional calendar for 2015.
“It would appear that the proposed 2016 calendar has been leaked,” the F1 supremo’s Formula One Management said in a statement after the 21-race schedule began to emerge on the internet recently.
“This calendar has not yet been approved.”
Undoubtedly, Ecclestone wanted the world to know that the leaked calendar, squeezing an unprecedented 21 grands prix into a condensed eight-month timeframe, was accurate but at the same time not final.
It is widely known that teams want to attend an absolute maximum of 20 grands prix per year, so the obvious conclusion is that at least one race on the leaked calendar will be dropped.
Roger Benoit, one of the most experienced journalists in the paddock, says the 84-year-old is putting the most pressure on historic Monza.
The Italian grand prix is on the leaked calendar, but Ecclestone has repeatedly warned that he wants organisers to spend more on their race fee.
At the same time, he has designated newcomer Azerbaijan – a country bounded by Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran – as the new ‘European’ grand prix.
In the Swiss newspaper Blick, Benoit quoted Ecclestone as saying: “As the teams are crying out for more and more money, we need to find it outside of Europe.”
Benoit said that while European hosts are now struggling to find a dozen million euros to give Ecclestone, new promoters such as Mexico – scheduled for late October next year – are reportedly prepared to spend many multiples more than that.
Luis Vasconcelos, a correspondent for Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper, also interprets Ecclestone’s calendar leak as the putting of “deliberate pressure” on some race hosts.
Amongst other anomalies, he noted the strange provisional race dates for Russia and Malaysia and the “almost impossible” Australia-to-China back-to-back at the start of the season.
“It would be interesting to know what sort of game Ecclestone is playing with the hosts,” said Vasconcelos, “and what the next calendar looks like at the end of July.”