|A 20-race calendar has long been a desire of Formula One’s commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone [Reuters]
Formula One will stretch to a record 20 races next year with India making its grand prix debut in late October although no new teams will be coming in, the sport’s governing body has said.
The Indian round, at a circuit being built near New Delhi, is due to be the 18th of the championship on October 30, subject to the facility passing a final inspection by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
The governing body said in a statement after a meeting of its world motor sport council on Wednesday that the 2011 season will start in Bahrain on March 13 and end in Brazil on November 27 with Abu Dhabi becoming the penultimate race on November 13.
The current season is a record-equalling 19 races, with South Korea the 2010 newcomers. However, the slim hopes of the starting grid being expanded to a full capacity of 13 teams, assuming all of the existing ones remain, were snuffed out.
The FIA said a number of parties had expressed an interest but “it was considered that none of the candidates met the requirements to be granted an entry into the championship.
“Consequently, the allocation of the 13th team will not be granted.”
Many of the expected main contenders had already withdrawn for financial reasons but Spanish-based Epsilon Euzkadi and a joint effort involving Italy’s Durango and Canada’s former world champion Jacques Villeneuve had remained in the running.
A 20-race calendar has long been a desire of the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone but it has met resistance from teams in the past due to the extra burden imposed on mechanics and travelling employees.
Cost-cutting measures have further reduced the number of staff attending races, while some test teams have been disbanded due to the ban on testing during the season.
The world motor sport council also announced steps to enable the governing body to punish Formula One drivers and other competitors in FIA series who commit motoring offences on public roads.
McLaren’s 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton was fined $458 after being stopped by police for reckless driving in a Melbourne street at this year’s Australian Grand Prix.
“Competitors at FIA events must act as ambassadors for the sport, be aware their conduct on the road must be exemplary and respect road safety rules,” declared the FIA statement.
It said the international sporting code would be amended to enable the governing body to withdraw a driver’s international super licence in the most serious cases.