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Korean return thought to be (engine) smoke and mirrors

NEWS STORY
04/12/2014

The surprise return of Korea to the F1 calendar is thought to be a nifty way of circumventing the new engine regulations.

Other than Leo Hindery finally finding the necessary funding - not to mention a track layout not littered with shopping malls and condominiums - it's fair to say that only the inclusion of Korea in the 2015 schedule could have caused a bigger shock when the calendar was announced by the World Motor Sport Council yesterday.

The event, held four times between 2010 and 2013, was never popular with fans or drivers, and a subsequent row over sanctioning fees saw it quietly slip from the schedule.

Then, yesterday, ahead of Azerbaijan's debut in 2016 and amidst talk of Las Vegas, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Greece, not to mention the return of India, Korea magically reappeared, thereby bringing the 2015 calendar up to 21 races, the most in the history of the Formula One World Championship.

Scheduled to take place the week before the all-important Spanish Grand Prix, the first race of the European season and the first real opportunity for the teams to try their upgrades, eyebrows were raised at the announcement.

Indeed, eyebrows were even raised in Korea, where an unnamed official effectively said this was the first organisers had heard of the race.

"We were given no prior notice," the official told AFP. "The FIA just announced it, although we've already conveyed our position about the difficulties of hosting a race next year."

Indeed, having lost around 108m ($170) over the four years the event was held, it's fair to say that despite the promised benefits of F1, Korea will be happy if it never hears of the sport again.

"We have to consider the negative views many people in the province have over the cost of the event," the official told AFP, admitting that the organizing committee, which signed the original contract, was now almost "broke".

Consequently, it's worth noting Reuters Alan Baldwin's observation that Article 28.4 of the 2015 sporting regulations stipulates that "each driver may use no more than four power units during a championship season", one less than in 2014.

As he points out, the same article adds that "this number will be increased to five if the number of events in the championship, as originally scheduled, exceeds 20."

In other words, putting Korea on the schedule, then quietly dropping it, will ensure the power unit allocation for next year remains at five. Far easier to 'lose' a race than to tinker with the regulations... especially when they are as complicated as those involving power units.

"Cushty", as Bernie might say.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Jonno, 05/12/2014 16:22

"Bernie going out of his way to help his mates at Red Bull ?
"

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2. Posted by TokyoAussie, 05/12/2014 8:04

"Why would the WMSC pull this fast one? Bernie, yes. Just what the sport needs for 2015, a scandal that starts before 2015."

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3. Posted by CL, 04/12/2014 19:44

"A farce highlighting a farce. And it doesn't surprise me. Is that what F1 has become?"

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4. Posted by ScottC, 04/12/2014 17:54

"Catch-22 anyone ? Lieutenant or possibly Colonel Scheisskopf (by that time) sent out memos each week announcing that due to circumstance beyond his control there would be no parade on Sunday ... when no parade had been scheduled in the first place. Of course he was later promoted General - maybe something similar going on here.
"

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