Ecclestone pushes for 20-round GP calendar

Bernie Ecclestone has stated that Formula 1 will have 20 Grands Prix on its calendar – more than ever before – in 2013, when a race through the streets of Rome makes its debut. “Rome is due to come in for 2013,” said Ecclestone, adding, “we will have 20 races and the teams will be happy with it.”

Ecclestone previously said that the number of races per year “can’t go beyond 17” due to existing agreements. However, he is adamant that the teams will accept racing at 20 Grands Prix.

This agreement came one step closer with the appointment of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh as chairman of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) in January. Ecclestone said that, “you’ve only got very sensible guys now like Martin Whitmarsh in charge of everything and he will understand because he is a business person”.

This year F1 has 19 GPs on its calendar with the addition of a race in South Korea, but it had been widely expected that several events could be cancelled due to the weak economy putting promoters under financial pressure. Both Germany and Turkey were believed to be at risk, but Ecclestone has quashed these rumours.

“The Germans have no problem,” he said, adding that he will not scrap the Turkish Grand Prix despite just 36,000 spectators attending the three days of the event last year. Ecclestone’s business runs the Turkish round and in December he reportedly asked the government to double the promotion fee he receives. However, he says that the race is here to stay and eventually the crowds will come. “It’s an enormous market in Turkey. Eventually they will get themselves sorted out.”

Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid