A look back through the news in recent years reveals that there are currently two new races that have signed contracts: the New Jersey event in 2013 and a Russian GP in 2014. There are 20 races on the F1 calendar, although it remains to be seen whether the teams agree to go to Bahrain. The teams are also only willing to do that many events, not because of the money but rather because their crews are already stretched too far and if there is a 21st race they would need to move into the realms of twin crews, which would cost a lot more money. So the squeeze is on because 21 into 20 does not go. And 22 into 20 quite clearly does not go. And we should also mention that both Mexico and Cape Town are still making noises about getting F1 deals. Belgium must sort out a new contract soon. It cannot afford it but is planning to save Spa as an F1 track by doing an alternation deal with France, similar to the arrangements that the two German race tracks have at the moment. The Japanese GP contract is up for grabs this year, while Bahrain needs a new deal after 2013. Canada and Singapore need new deals after their events in 2014 and in 2015 we have Australia, Malaysia and Brazil needing new deals. Spain needs to watch out too because although Barcelona has a contract until after the 2016 race and Valencia until after 2014, it is very clear that no-one has told the Spanish yet that they are going to get only race between them and they can fight over whether they pay more or share the Spanish GP. There is still a bit of a log-jam in 2013, unless the problems in Bahrain continue. The locals know that there is a threat to the race in the long-term and perhaps this is why they are so keen to get the event back on the rails this year. Can F1 live without Japan? Right now, that would not be hard. There are plenty of races in Asia and no Japanese manufacturers involved. The only driver is Kamui Kobayashi. At the same time, Japan is at least a developed F1 market, rather than some of the other countries where F1 is still so new that no-one gets it.
Perhaps, you might say, Russia and New Jersey will not make it. I doubt that. Yes, the United States is a litigious place, but it seems that the idea of a race has excited the folks of New Jersey, if only because they realise that a successful event will double the value of their houses.
And Russia? Well, a lot is being done at Sochi at the moment to finish the site of the Winter Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in February 2014. Some of the projects are running behind schedule, but the important ones are on track. Russia is using the Olympics to develop the entire region and having a deadline to meet is a good way of making things happen. The plans for the racing circuit are already financed and include such things as a kart track to help develop young Russian drivers. The region has $190 million to spend and some of the building work will be done before the Games, although the actual tarmac of the race track will not go down until afterwards. Some of the facilities are going to be temporary – in the Albert Park tradition – but other parts will be permanent. Here are a few photographs of the buildings that are in the planning stages.