Tales From The Vault – Cancelled … the Grand Prix’s which never happened

Features Tales from the vault

In this TFTV we are looking at some of the races in Formula One’s history which never happened… until this year the last race to be cancelled was the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, but while six races remain postponed, some did happen with changes

2020 Australian and Monaco

The opening race of the 2020 season was cancelled hours before the first practice session due to Coronavirus. In the week leading up to the race, the pandemic had swept across the world, that lead to seven members of McLaren testing positive on Thursday and the team withdrew from the season opener.

The race could still go ahead as the nine remaining teams were deadlocked but as soon as the grid was twelve cars that the FIA could go ahead and cancel. Ferrari then was considering withdrawing from the event, effectively taking Alfa Romeo and Haas with them. They would not be able to operate without Ferrari’s technical help, reducing the grid to twelve cars.

In another round of talks, the eight remaining teams were split four-four on whether to go ahead. Then a flight passenger list emerged from Melbourne Airport that Sebastian Vettel was already booked on to an early morning flight out of Australia the following morning.

But the deciding moment came in the early hours with a phone call between Daimler Chairman Ola Källenius and Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff about the impact of the coronavirus situation and what Mercedes should do with its F1 team. Källenius told Wolff it was his decision but the situation in Europe was getting worst.

At this point, the fate of the race was off…

Read more – Behind The Headlines

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Until this season the Bahrain Grand Prix was the last race to be postponed. In early 2011 the troubles of the Arab Spring reached Bahrain followed by a crackdown by the government. On the 21st February, the government asked for the race to be postponed with the decision to be made on the 1st May.

This was later extended to the 3rd of June, with the plan to slot the race in on 30th of October and move the Indian Grand Prix to the 4th December. But, Mercedes boss Ross Brawn called the decision unacceptable with others condemning human rights.

Now the FIA waded in saying the rescheduling of the race would require the unanimous agreement of the teams. It had been reported that the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) was opposed to rescheduling the race to 30 October on logistical grounds, but were willing to discuss an end-of-season berth for the race instead.

A week later the Bahraini Government withdrew the race from the calendar.

1999 Chinese and Argentine Grand Prix’s

The second race of the season was due to take place at the Zhuhai International Circuit, however, the circuit failed to meet the standards needed to hold the race. The race was then replaced by the Argentine Grand Prix, or not.

The race in but was cancelled shortly after because the promoter failed to reach a deal with Bernie Ecclestone to put the race on. That resulted in a month break between the opening race and the second round of the season in Sao Paulo.

2015- present Indian Grands Prix

The Indian Grand Prix finally joined the calendar in 2011 with a five-year contract to host the race. However, things went wrong when the local government decide that F1 wasn’t a sport and was entertainment.

This means that organisers need to pay tax and duties on everything connected with the race. So for the Indian infrastructure firm, Jaypee Group, and the organisers have already been struggling with rising costs and poor revenues.

Unlike other races in the region the race was privately funded, In a judgement issued in April 2017, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the circuit constituted a ‘permanent establishment’, and as such FOWC was liable to pay taxes on any income accrued by it in India, estimated at 40% of business income

2007 German Grand Prix

In August 2006 it was announced that Hockenheim and the Nurburgring would share the German Grand Prix. However, soon an argument broke out between the two circuits over naming rights, which Hockenheim still held until 2008.

although putting together a deal to alternate the race was not a problem, a power struggle between Germany’s two motor racing clubs makes it likely that the Nurburgring race this year will not be able to run under the title of the ‘German Grand Prix.

The problem was that the two competing promoters were deadlocked in negotiations, the Automobil Club of Germany (AvD), would not relinquish it easily to their rival club ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobilclub) who have close ties with the Nurburgring.

The race went ahead as the ‘Grand Prix of Europe’, a deal was signed by the 2009 season.

2013 Jersey (New York) Grand Prix

The year after Austin joined the calendar a circuit in new jersey was due to join the calendar. The Port Imperial Street Circuit was designed to run against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, but the contract was cancelled because of a breach of terms.

The circuit was nowhere near ready after a delay in getting construction permits in place. But work did begin to prepare the circuit for 2013, it later became clear that the race could not go ahead as it was being privately funded.

In June 2013 a new contract was signed with all the permits in place for the following season. However, on the 1st December, the race was postponed because of a number of long-term financial problems. Ecclestone apparently had not given up on the race itself; stating that he had “no doubt” that the race would take place in 2015.

This wasn’t the first time a plan for a New York race had collapsed as in the 1980s Ecclestone planned a race but they were shelved after environmental protests, legal threats and struggles for sponsor and television commitments. There was a further set-back in ‘84 when a CART race at nearby Meadowlands was not a great success

That never happened and the race has just vanished…

2014 Spanish Grand Prix (Valencia)

With New Jersey joining the calendar it was announced that Barcelona and Valencia was alternate the Spanish Grand Prix. However the organisers in Valencia were unhappy with the new deal, and despite the announcement, no deal could be agreed.

The city had been the centre of Spain’s property boom and the finical crash lead to political scandals, with the region credit rating being downgraded to junk. At the time, the region had 20.5bn euros worth of debt.

By the time 2014 arrived the circuit decided to withdraw from the contract, after the national prosecutor’s office begun investigating allegations of corruption. The circuit today lies open to the public but abandoned.

2010 British Grand Prix (Donnington Park)

For the 2010 season, it was announced that the British Grand Prix would leave Silverstone and move to Donnington Park. However, the ten-year contract was put into doubt after the operator went to arrears on its lease of the circuit.

They had started work on a £100m redevelopment plan to bring the circuit up to standard, a settlement was reached by June. Then at the end of October, it was reported that they had failed to raise the £135 million needed to stage a British Grand Prix. The BBC commented in its coverage that: “Donnington’s bid looks over, and that Ecclestone has offered the race to Silverstone.”

By the end of November, Donnington Park had defaulted on its debt and went into administration. Silverstone then signed a seventeen-year contract to host the race until 2026, but they were forced to re-negotiate in recent years due to the contract being unaffordable.

2006 Belgian Grand Prix

It was a similar story which led to the cancellation of the 2006 Belgian race, like Britain it had been a staple on the calendar since the beginning of the sport in 1950. In the autumn of 2005, the circuit decided to carry out a major upgrade.

Work began, however, the promoter declared bankruptcy and put the race into doubt. A reported bailout by the Belgian Government failed to materialise. The problems started with the facilities failing to be up to standard and the new paddock complex not being built in time for the race.

So, will more races follow, remember these are just a few there are many others like South Africa, Turkey and Russia… maybe we could look at another time.

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