Two major political events, held a day apart earlier this week, have the potential to radically influence future Formula 1 calendars. These events are, of course, the French election - which resulted in Francois Hollande coming to power - and the inauguration of Russia's returning president Vladimir Putin.
Both countries have aspirations to be part of F1 within the next two years, with each relying heavily upon political support to do so. Yet, where just a month or so ago both countries' grands prix seemed shoo-ins, they this week joined F1's endangered events - and thus could affect F1's future profitability, and therefore the planned Singapore Stock Exchange Initial Purchase Offer of F1 stock.
Sources in the current Concorde Agreement negotiating loop advise that F1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone aims to make 20 grands prix per season the standard - up from the present 17 - with an option, subject to team agreement, taking the number to 24 (from the present maximum of 20).
This makes perfect sense from a commercial rights perspective, for a number of circuits have recently renegotiated their hosting fees (downwards), while those up for renewal have indicated they will push for reductions. Thus, in order to boost F1's race fee revenues, the only other option faced by Ecclestone and co is to increase the number of races. This also provides a better sell when it comes to TV contracts.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken