Classic races teeter; USGP awaits date

Updated: October 13, 2004, 12:31 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- The British, French and San Marino Grand Prix races got a reprieve Wednesday when they were temporarily listed on the 2005 Formula One calendar.

Nineteen events are on the calendar, but the schedule most likely will feature 17 or 18 races when the world governing body completes the schedule in December. The only new race for 2005 is the Turkish Grand Prix on Aug. 21.

The British, French and San Marino races -- among the most traditional races in F1 -- have been in jeopardy and were listed with an asterisk by FIA, the sport's ruling body.

The races have come under pressure as F1 commercial director Bernie Ecclestone expanded the circuit to new countries, where rules on tobacco advertising are less strict than in Europe. The two news races in 2004 were in Bahrain and China.

The British race, which has been run every year since F1 began in 1950, is scheduled for July 3 and seems the most likely to be saved. British sports minister Richard Caborn said Tuesday he hoped to get a two-year deal for Silverstone, which would allow time to refurbish the aging former World War II airstrip.

The San Marino race at Imola on April 24 seems most vulnerable, particularly since Italy already hosts the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Ecclestone has said the race probably would be dropped. The French race at Magny Cours on April 17 was almost eliminated from the 2004 calendar.

As usual, the season begins in Australia on March 6 and then moves to Malaysia (March 20) and Bahrain (April 3).

The final three races are the same as this season, although their positions have been altered. The season will end in China, although a date has not been confirmed. The 2004 season ends Oct. 24 in Brazil. In 2005, the Brazilian GP will be run on Sept. 25 with the Japanese GP on Oct. 9.

In addition to China, two other races were listed without dates -- the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis and the European Grand Prix at Nuerburgring, Germany.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press