How a 22-race F1 calendar could look

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Bernie Ecclestone has raised the prospect of expanding F1’s calendar to new heights with a 22-race schedule.

Speaking to London newspaper City AM earlier this week Ecclestone said:

“Having races in the right place is what matters. The teams could probably deal with 22 races.”

A punishing 20-race schedule took its toll on teams last year. This year’s calendar has been trimmed to 19 races following the loss of the little-loved race in Valencia, Spain.

But several venues are lined up to join the calendar in the near future, including the postponed second American race in New Jersey which was supposed to take place this year.

Russia has also been penciled in for its first Grand Prix in November 2014. Last month Ecclestone revealed he was in talks about reviving the Mexican Grand Prix.

Here’s how an expanded schedule for 2014 could look:

Round Race Circuit
1 Australian Grand Prix Albert Park
2 Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang International Circuit
3 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai International Circuit
4 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain International Circuit
5 Spanish Grand Prix Circuit de Catalunya
6 Monaco Grand Prix Monte-Carlo
7 Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
8 Jersey Grand Prix New Jersey
9 British Grand Prix Silverstone
10 German Grand Prix Hockenheimring
11 Hungarian Grand Prix Hungaroring
12 Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps
13 Italian Grand Prix Monza
14 Singapore Grand Prix Singapore
15 Korean Grand Prix Korean International Circuit
16 Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka
17 Indian Grand Prix Buddh International Circuit
18 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina
19 Russian Grand Prix Sochi
20 United States Grand Prix Circuit of the Americas
21 Mexican Grand Prix Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
22 Brazilian Grand Prix Interlagos

However Ecclestone has his eye on other new venues. He told the same interview: “If I had the choice I would like to go back to South Africa. I want to be in Cape Town.”

Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”