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GP Week : Issue 157
BRIEFLY » Following on from last week’s feature on unlikely grands prix, GPWEEK was contacted by a representative from DielpisFormula1, a project aimed at getting Formula One to the Drapetsona area of Greece in the near future. Project representatives met with Bernie Ecclestone in the Monaco paddock, and secured a commitment from the FOM boss that he would visit the site of the proposed circuit in July. According to a press release issued by DielpisFormula1 after the Monaco meeting, “Mr. Bernie Ecclestone was aware of the planning and stated that he supports the idea for F1 races in the area of Drapetsona and he shall pursue the materialisation of the project”. But how does Greece intend to pay for it? Anyone? Anyone? » Robert Kubica has undergone further surgery to his elbow with a view to increasing mobility in his arm after the 2011 rally crash that cut his F1 career short. The damage caused by the accident had left Kubica unable to handle a steering wheel, and it is hoped this latest surgery will make a return to competitive racing possible. “This way the driver will be able to fully handle the steering wheel, while before he was unable to rotate the palm down, so he was forced to release the steering wheel in order to turn left,” Italian newspapers quoted head surgeon Ruggero Testoni as saying. “The surgery was preceded by a series of tests in a car simulator. It will take at least one month in order to stabilize.” In-season testing made its Formula One return this season, following several years of complaints that teams and young drivers alike had been disadvantaged by the lack of non-race running. But following the test that took place in Mugello at the beginning of last month, the great and the good of the F1 paddock criticised the event as an expensive exercise that delivered little of real benefit. One in-season test that has long had the backing of all and sundry is the Young Driver Test which traditionally takes place towards the end of the season. This season saw plans made to allow teams to run their YDT at Silverstone following the British Grand Prix should they choose to do so, allowing those teams with smaller budgets to cut costs without missing out on valuable track time. It appears that the Silverstone test has now been scuppered, thanks to a lack of circuit availability. The Northamptonshire racetrack is scheduled to play host to Formula Student in the days immediately following the British Grand Prix, a scheduling conflict that appears to have passed the F1 world by. As yet there is no news from those teams who had planned – and budgeted – to run at Silverstone regarding their revised YDT schedule. But it looks as though all twelve teams might yet be affected by alterations to the YDT, as this weekend reports emerged that the late-season Abu Dhabi test was also at risk of going the way of the dodo. Because a number of teams have not budgeted for Abu Dhabi, it could yet be the case that the YDT is moved wholesale to a European track – possibly Jerez – that will allow all 12 teams to test without disadvantaging any one outfit financially. All is not lost with regard to the Silverstone test, however – the Formula One Teams’ Association is working with the circuit to see what can be done to save the summer session. SILVERSTONE YDT UNDER THREAT According to reports in the Spanish press last week, race officials for the Valencia and Barcelona grands prix have hammered out an alternation deal that will see the Spanish Grand Prix swap between the two cities until 2019. Under the terms of the rumoured deal, Barcelona will play host to the national race in odd-numbered years, while Valencia will take its turn in the even- numbered years. The proposed deal gives Barcelona the lion’s share of races, and will save Valencia millions of euros in circuit construction costs over the period. Barcelona’s current contract with FOM is due to expire in 2016, while Valencia was scheduled to fall off the F1 calendar in 2014. This new deal, should it meet with the necessary approvals, sees Spain extend its commitment to Formula One while reducing its involvement in the sport. All of this remains rumour and speculation, however, with no formal approach having yet been made to the FIA, or approved of by FOM. Attempts were made by GPWEEK to contact the Spanish ASN over the course of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, but the offices were closed to enquiries until Monday morning, so it remains to be seen whether this proposed calendar change has been approved by the national sporting authority. Given that the alternation deal will see both venues extend their grand prix hosting duties beyond the terms of their existing contracts with FOM, there is a strong argument for saying that the best proposal in the current financial climate would be for both Valencia and Barcelona to see out the contracts before removing themselves from the F1 calendar. SPANISH GP ALTERNATION DEAL AGREED BUT ONLY BY THE CIRCUITS 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS