Update: Looking for the very latest news on the British Grand Prix? Check our dedicated post on the subject here.
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Patriotic sports fans may be forced to choose between Button and Beckham or Hamilton and Heskey next summer after the new FIA calendar pitted the British Grand Prix head to head with football’s World Cup Final.
The news that it will have to compete with the planet’s most-viewed sporting contest – in a competition where England will be among the favourites after qualifying with ease – delivers a fresh blow to an event already behind the curve on ticket sales.
Recent sell-out events at Silverstone have been based on tickets for the following year’s event becoming available immediately after the race, so satisfied customers could re-book straight away, with knock-on effects for local hotels, B&Bs and campsites.
But with the grand prix slated to move to Donington Park in 2010, and with that circuit’s redevelopment stalled so that tickets are still not on sale three months after the race, a full quarter of the available time for for promoting the event has already been lost.
The news that Donington must persuade people to spend cash on going to the races on the same day that one of the Home Nations might be playing for the world’s most famous sporting trophy will not help matters, at least with fans south of the border.
However the venue’s promoter Simon Gillett has said he plans to make the best of the scheduling clash.
When a provisional calendar revealing the issue was made public at the Belgian Grand Prix, he mooted the idea of erecting big screens at the circuit so race fans could stay on and watch the match in a party atmosphere.
Unlike some races such as Monaco, where the date is traditionally fixed, the British Grand Prix’s scheduling has been a moveable feast in the last few years. It has often been in the first or second weekend of July but has also been held as early as June 11 and as late as July 20. A venture into early April in 2000 was disastrous with the spring weather soaking the event.
Its 2010 date of July 11 seems like particularly cruel luck for its already-beleagured organisers.
The British Grand Prix is one of five out of the six historic European races to appear on the calendar at this point, despite recent fears that some might fail to make the cut. They are Monaco, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium – although France is still absent and there is still no American date.
Canada rejoins the calendar, although it is still subject to contract negotiations, and a revised date for Turkey will be substituted should plans not come to fruition. The only completely new venue is South Korea towards the end of the season.
The season finale has been restored to Brazil after a detour to Abu Dhabi this year, and the European Grand Prix is retained at Valencia.
The F1 calendar for 2010
- Bahrain: March 14
- Australia: March 28
- Malaysia: April 4
- China: April 18
- Spain: May 9
- Monaco: May 23
- Turkey: May 30
- Canada (provisional): June 13
- Europe (Valencia): June 27
- Great Britain: July 11
- Germany: July 25
- Hungary: August 1
- Belgium: August 29
- Italy: September 12
- Singapore: September 26
- Japan: October 3
- South Korea: October 17
- Abu Dhabi: October 31
- Brazil: November 14