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Whiting checks out Argentine track

NEWS STORY
16/08/2017

While one of Formula One's most legendary drivers, five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio, hailed from Argentina, the most recent of his countrymen to line up on the grid was Gaston Mazzacane back in 2001.

And while Argentina last hosted a Grand Prix in 1998, interest in the sport in the country that also gave us Froilan Gonzalez and Carlos Reuteman has remained high.

Consequently, with the sport's new owners looking to expand the calendar to 25 races, taking the sport into new territories and returning to old ones, it comes as little surprise to hear that FIA Race Director, Charlie Whiting, has paid a visit to the Autodromo de Buenos Aires Juan y Oscar Galvez in Buenos Aires.

Accompanied by members of the Buenos Aires government and representatives of both the Automovil Club Argentino and the Argentinean Drivers' Association, Whiting checked out the track that hosted 21 Grands Prix between 1953 and 1998.

F1's return to Argentina was last mooted by Bernie Ecclestone back in 2015 as he eyed the sport's triumphant return to Mexico.

Though plans in 2013 to take the race to the seaside resort of Mar del Plata came to nothing, Ecclestone said at the time: "We are open to racing in Argentina when I can deal with serious people".

Two years later, it appeared he had found those people, claiming that a return was a distinct possibility. "It can happen. Not will, can," he told reporters.

As is so often the case, Argentina dropped of the F1 calendar after 1998 due to money issues, and while these remain, it would appear that the presence of representatives of the local government suggests there is a desire to find the necessary funding.

With the track currently only used for national series, including Touring Cars and GT racing, the track and its facilities will need improvements in order to be brought up to the FIA Grade 1 standard necessary to host a Grand Prix.

While some will remain sceptical, it should be noted that at the time Mexico rejoined the GP fold, the prospect of welcoming France back also looked extremely bleak. Next year however, F1 returns to the country that gave the world Grand Prix racing, when the world championship heads to Paul Ricard.

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1. Posted by mittagongcalling, 17/08/2017 8:00

"I suppose he's making sure there's room to park the safety car."

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