F1 teams shocked at new TV plans and calendar

Updated: 29 July 2011 21:16 IST

A shock new television deal for Formula One in Britain and a heavily-revised new-look 20-race calendar for 2012 caused a major stir among the teams in the paddock at the Hungaroring on Friday.

F1 teams shocked at new TV plans and calendar

Budapest:

A shock new television deal for Formula One in Britain and a heavily-revised new-look 20-race calendar for 2012 caused a major stir among the teams in the paddock at the Hungaroring on Friday.

On the eve of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, the unexpected announcements left many paddock observers flabbergasted and several team leaders intent on calling a meeting with F1 commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone.

McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh said: "It's an interesting proposal, but we need to discuss the whole thing and be given a lot more detail. I am sure we will be meeting to talk it through with Bernie."

In the shock announcement on Friday morning, Ecclestone made clear that for the first time in the modern era the sport would not be entirely available to a free-to-air broadcaster.

His plan is for coverage of all the F1 races in 2012 and beyond to be shared between the BBC and Sky, a move that will see Sky offering all the races on its subscription channels and the BBC broadcasting only half of the races.

The plan has prompted outrage among the sport's fans, who are upset at no longer being able to see F1 on free television, as has traditionally been the case.

Whitmarsh said: "As I understand it, the BBC are covering half the Grands Prix, and Sky are doing every practice session and everything else. It's interesting.

"I don't think anyone should be immediately reacting to say this is good, bad, or indifferent.

"What we need to understand is whether the large audience we currently enjoy will be maintained. I think we also need to understand exactly how this is being done."

He added that a move to take F1 off free-to-air could be viewed as a breach of the sport's binding Concorde Agreement, claiming that there were clauses in the deal that tie the teams, Ecclestone and the FIA together that guarantees the sport's broadcast platform.

"We've got a range of safeguards within Concorde, and the right thing to do is to explore how the Formula One coverage is going to be dealt with in the future, and take a view from there."

In a separate development, the proposed 2012 calendar was revealed on Friday with Australia re-installed as the opening race, instead of Bahrain where this year's race was cancelled.

Bahrain has been retained, but moved to the later part of the season to run in tandem with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The calendar also proposes the return of a United States Grand Prix, at Austin in Texas, in late November, prior to the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

The calendar also confirms the Indian Grand Prix for a second year and the dropping of the Turkish race in Istanbul. It has only eight races in Europe.

The proposed calendar:

March 18 - Australian GP

March 25 - Malaysian GP

April 8 - Chinese GP

April 22 - Indian GP

May 13 - Spanish GP

May 27 - Monaco GP

June 10 - Canada GP

June 24 - European GP

July 8 - British GP

July 22 - German GP

July 29 - Hungarian GP

Sept 2 - Belgian GP

Sept 9 - Italian GP

Sept 23 - Singapore GP

Oct 7 - Japanese GP

Oct 14 - Korean GP

Oct 28 - Abu Dhabi GP

Nov 4 - Bahrain GP

Nov 18 - United States GP

Nov 25 - Brazilian GP

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