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GP Week : Issue 164
After a temporary leave of absence from the paddock that lasted for the duration of last week’s German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Bernie Ecclestone returned to his usual supervisory duties on Saturday morning in Budapest. The Formula One supremo made a visit to the press room shortly after the final free practice session, and hinted at the shape of the 2013 calendar, which has yet to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council. While there had long been rumours that next year would see the F1 circus racing on anything up to 23 separate weekends, Ecclestone said that – for the moment – the calendar would remain largely unchanged. “It's 20 races,” Ecclestone told the assembled media. “All the same, more or less.” It is the ‘more or less’ that has led to speculation in the paddock, with the New Jersey race already subject to endless rounds of on-again, off-again rumours, Valencia set for the scrapheap, and increasing financial difficulties in Barcelona and at the Nurburgring. Last week’s news that the Ring was in far greater financial trouble than had previously been thought does not mean that the German Grand Prix will drop off the calendar, however – should efforts to save the legendary venue fail, provisions are being put into place to hold the 2013 German race at Hockenheim. In related news, rumours that Ecclestone will save the Ring by digging deep into his own pockets appear to be far-fetched, if the F1 boss’ own comments are anything to go by. “We are talking to [the Nurburgring], so will see,” Ecclestone said. “We need to keep the German race, so we havetodothebestwecan.Wewilltryandsaveit–butI don't think the property is for sale.” In a season that has seen dramatic racing from Melbourne to Budapest, some of the biggest stories have happened off track. We’ve had internal and global politics, ethics, finance, and scandal, to name but a few of 2012’s biggest headlines. The run of off-track stories continues with the news that work has been suspended on the greatly anticipated – and well-developed – 2014 engines currently being put together by Craig Pollock’s PURE in Cologne. According to Pollock, the suspension is a temporary response to a short-term problem with the financing, which are not available thanks to demands from the Swiss authorities, who are insisting that the financing come from within the European Union. Pollock told Autosport that the investment he is waiting for is US-based, but it is widely believed in the paddock that the bulk of PURE’s funding comes from Credit Suisse. Autosport printed excerpts from a copy of the email Pollock sent to his colleagues at PURE explaining the situation. The email read: “I would like to warn my colleagues working in Cologne that we are obliged to suspend our activities from August 1. “In effect, the funds that we were expecting from our investors are not available and that will not allow us to begin this project on the correct footing. We hope that this situation will be resolved quickly but I have no idea when that might be possible or when we might be able to get the project up and running again. I apologise for this situation which is out of our control.” Asked to comment on PURE’s difficulties in the Hockenheim paddock on Saturday evening, Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug both admitted that they expected to see only three engine suppliers in the F1 paddock in 2014. While neither man went into further detail, it is to be presumed that the three suppliers in question will be Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, Ferrari, and Renault Sport F1. The Mercedes’ pair’s comments tally with the story – first broken by GP WEEK in May but vehemently denied by the company – that Cosworth would not be supplying any teams once the engine specification changed for the 2014 season. BERNIE HINTS AT 2013 CALENDAR PURE FINANCE – ENGINE DEVELOPMENT SUSPENDED F1 >>> NEWS 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: