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FIA mulls 'mystery race' venue

2012-12-06 12:37

FAVOURITE FOR NOW: Turkey is the favourite to secure the 'mystery race' of F1's 2013 calender but Austria and France are also candidates for the European F1 showpiece.

ALAN BALDWIN

ISTANBUL, Turkey - F1 could have 20 races again in 2013 after the governing FIA pencilled in a mystery European round in July to fill a space left by the postponed GP of America in New Jersey.

The International Automobile Federation said on Wednesday that the German GP would switch from July 14 to July 7 in 2013 with July 21 now "reserved for another F1 European event" subject to approval of national bodies.

No further details were given, but speculation focused mainly on the possible return of the Turkish GP in Istanbul.

Germany's revised date would see that race follow immediately after the British GP at Silverstone on June 30 2013, according to the previous provisional calendar, while the new event would follow Hungary on July 28 2013.

TURKISH DELIGHT?

Istanbul, where the FIA is holding its 2012 annual assembly and World Motor Sports Council meeting, would be a popular option for teams and drivers who rated the track highly before it was dropped from this year's calendar.

F1’s CEO Bernie Ecclestone dropped a hint on Tuesday when he told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport that he was going to Istanbul "to try to revive the Turkish GP and take part in the world council."

France, which has been seeking a return with either its central Magny-Cours circuit or Le Castellet in the south, is another possibility although that trail appears to have gone cold in recent weeks.

Another option is Austria, whose Oesterreichring (also known as the A1 Ring) has been revamped by owner Red Bull since it last hosted a GP in 2003 and is an easy drive from Budapest.

Helmut Marko, a close aide to Red Bull's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, was quoted in Austria this week as saying a GP in that country could not be ruled out: "With Mateschitz, you can never say never. Let's see how it develops."

Red Bull has won the Drivers' and Constructors' championships for the past three years and Mateschitz is close to Ecclestone.

F1had a record 20 races in 2012 but the absence of New Jersey, which had been due to make its debut on June 16 2012, while the debt-stricken Spanish city of Valencia dropped off the list, had reduced that to 19.

SILENT PITS

The FIA also made amendments to the technical and sporting regulations for 2013.

Among them are tougher front wing deflection tests and an increase in the minimum weight of cars to compensate for heavier Pirelli tyres.

The current 'force majeure' allowance, when a car stops on track in qualifying, was abandoned and the FIA will instead determine how much fuel the car would have used to get back to the pits and then add it to the one litre sample minimum.

Red Bull's World champion Sebastian Vettel was sent to the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi when he was told to stop his car on track after qualifying third.

The car was subsequently found to have insufficient fuel on board to pass post-qualifying tests, although Red Bull was convinced the car had more in the tank.

Drag reduction systems can only be used in practice in the zones where it will be available in a race.

On the sporting side, a 'curfew' to ensure hard-pressed mechanics and team personnel do not work around the clock at circuits, will be extended from six to eight hours on Thursday nights with only two exceptions allowed during a season instead of the current four.

Changes were also made to the 2014 technical regulations to reduce the cost of introducing a new engine, including postponing to 2017 a requirement for cars to be driven exclusively under electric power in the pits lane.


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