Schumacher Welcomes New Tracks to F1 Calendar

World Champion Michael Schumacher says he is looking forward to the challenge of driving on new circuits next season.

Schumacher Welcomes New Tracks to F1 Calendar

World Champion Michael Schumacher says he is looking forward to the challenge of driving on new circuits next season.

China and Bahrain will make Formula One debuts in 2004, the FIA announced today, while the Spa circuit, Schumacher's favourite, returns to the calendar after a year's absence.

"Obviously, it's no surprise to hear that Spa is back," said Schumacher ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit. "I think it's going to be interesting to have new circuits such as Bahrain and Shanghai where we can experience new things, I'm really looking forward to that."

Among other changes, Brazil's Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo will replace Japan's Suzuka as the last race of the year on October 24. That will allow the season's finale to be broadcast on European prime time evening television rather than the early hours of the morning.

Bahrain will be the third race on the calendar, slotting in on April 4 after Australia and Malaysia and before the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on April 25. The German track, situated in the Eifel hills near the boyhood home of Ferrari's World Champion Schumacher, is likely to offer a cold and wet homecoming to Europe.

"Oops. Take your snow jackets with you," the surprised Schumacher said when told of the change. "Maybe we will have a chance to finally use our rain tyres."

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