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Formula One teams agree to 18 races in 2007
September 19, 2006 11:07 IST
Formula One teams have thrown a lifeline to Italy's Imola circuit by agreeing to expand next year's calendar from 17 to 18 races.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that the unanimous agreement came at a meeting of the governing body, representatives of all the teams and manufacturers in Paris on Monday.
The extra race is subject to approval by the FIA's Formula One commission and World Motor Sport Council.
A 2007 calendar published by the FIA last month had just 17 rounds, after 18 this year and 19 in 2005, with Italy and Germany allocated just one race each and seemingly no room for a San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
Despite that, Ferrari's home circuit had remained hopeful of a reprieve.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo discussed the situation with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi during this month's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
"For us it is very important that Imola remains," Montezemolo had told reporters.
Imola's return to the calendar will nonetheless depend on the circuit making agreed renovations to the pits and paddock.
Should that not be possible in the time available, there are other candidates in the frame.
Japan's Honda-owned Suzuka circuit will be replaced by Toyota's Fuji facility after this season but Suzuka organisers are seeking a second race in Japan -- possibly billed as a Pacific Grand Prix -- to keep them on the calendar.
The meeting also agreed detailed changes to the 2008 technical regulations and embraced energy-saving proposals for the longer term.
The FIA said it would prepare draft regulations for 2009 concerning the recovery and re-use of energy while manufacturers would do the same for devices that could use waste heat and exhaust gases to help propel the cars.
The meeting agreed that "the objective of all new Formula One regulations should be to maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport".
The FIA statement added that the regulations should strive to improve the show, safety and cost effectiveness, to promote technology relevant to society at large and "facilitate brand recognition".
A working group will be established to discuss ways of restricting the use of costly wind tunnels, simulators and the number of people employed by teams.
The teams accepted that a regulation limiting them to 30,000 kms of testing a year in 2008 should be brought forward to next year by voluntary agreement. Subject to the assent of the World Motor Sport Council, plans to introduce a radical new rear wing aimed at making overtaking easier will be deferred until 2009 to allow for more research.
An engine 'freeze' scheduled for 2008 will be brought forward to next year with teams agreeing to no further development after next month's Japanese Grand Prix other than returning for a maximum of 19,000rpm.
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