After the initial shock of having the 2007 Formula One season calendar published way ahead of its typical end-of current-season date, people asked a lot of questions regarding the lack of circuits mentioned in the calendar. It was also noted that the proposed calendar had a four week gap between the third and fourth Grands Prix. And finally, Imola was not included.
The lack of circuits was easily worked out, given that Germany are intending to alternate their one race between both of their major facilities – Hockenheim and Nurburgring. The details were quickly finalised and all questions surrounding this were settled. Nurburgring will host the 2007 meeting, and Hockenheim will take over for 2008. The race will switch between both circuits thereafter.
The four week gap had been explained (unofficially) as a potential reprise for Suzuka. The circuit had been rather unceremoniusly slashed from the calendar in preference to Fuji. This has caused a lot of upset among Formula One fans and drivers. However, it has happened and many folk (myself included) were pining for a Pacific or Asian Grand Prix to be slotted in this gap, allowing Suzuka to continue to work her magic on F1. This dream has now faded – for 2007 at least – as the World Motor Sport Council confirmed last Wednesday.
And so this fact brings us to Imola – traditionally billed as the San Marino Grand Prix. Considered to be Italy’s second race, and Ferrari’s home race as the circuit is situated closer to Maranello than Monza is – the fans favourite. The Grand Prix was left off the calendar and general concensus was Bernie Ecclestone trying place pressure on the circuit owners make necessary upgrades before the season starts next March. Although work has apparently begun at the famous race track, it has been decided that not enough has been done and the race will not take place in 2007. The World Motor Sport Council said in a statement, “No agreement was in place for an 18th race and there will continue to be 17 races in the 2007 calendar.”
I feel this is a shame, and although there are many fantastic new circuits like Sakhir and Shanghai now hosting events, I believe that Formula One needs to retain its deep roots in circuits like Silverstone, Monaco and to a slightly lesser extent, Imola. To lose Suzuka was pain enough, but to lose Imola as well is quite a blow.
I don’t suppose anyone has any ideas as to what we are all supposed to do between April 15th and May 11th 2007?
Click here to read the official press release from the meeting last Wednesday. Other details regarding the changes to the rules will be discussed after the Brazilian Grand Prix.