Ecclestone hints at 18-race calendar

Leading F1 team principals Ron Dennis and Frank Williams say they would be surprised to see an increase in the F1 calendar, possibly to 18 races, mooted after comments made by Bernie Ecclestone about the future of the Austrian race

Ecclestone hints at 18-race calendar

Red Bull energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz is buying the A1-Ring and is understood to have some grand plans for it, involving racing-related commercial activities and, hopefully, a return of the Austrian Grand Prix that will make way for Bahrain on the 2004 calendar. For future years, however, Ecclestone hinted at an increase to 18 races.

Dennis, however, said: "There is a mechanism under the current Concorde Agreement to expand the calendar from 16 to 17 race, but no more. Races cost us money to go to so there's no financial incentive for the teams even if there might be for the promoters and the people who host the races. It would have to be exceptional circumstances."

And Williams added: "In practical terms, as human beings, you couldn't do 18 grands prix and testing and there are a number of people who do switch between the two on a seven day per week basis. Another factor is the
cost. Bernie may try and make a deal that includes that but I would doubt it frankly. That is my view, but Bernie continues to surprise all of us."

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