Ecclestone rules out 20th race for 2013

Updated 06 February 2013
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Ecclestone rules out 20th race for 2013

DUBAI: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone yesterday ruled out a 20th race on the 2013 calendar, putting an end to speculation that Turkey or another European country is in line to host a Grand Prix this year.
Ecclestone, in Dubai to announce a new sponsorship deal with Emirates airlines, said it was impossible to add another race “at this late stage.”
There was speculation a European race would replace the Grand Prix of America.
The leading contender to fill the spot was Istanbul, which was dropped from the F1 calendar in 2012 after a disagreement with Ecclestone over the fee charged to stage the race. Portugal has also been mentioned in recent months as another candidate.
“Disappointed it didn’t happen before,” he said of the 20th race. “You can’t suddenly slot it in.”
Ecclestone also said he was “100 percent” confident that the Bahrain Grand Prix would go ahead despite ongoing unrest in the Gulf nation, adding that he “hoped things were a little more peaceful” this year.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was run without incident this year, although it was a public relations disaster for F1. Sectarian violence rocked the streets of Manama causing death and injury during the race weekend, and created a disturbing background for the race which was won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
“I haven’t seen the kind of troubles we experienced at this time last year,” Ecclestone said.


The F1 boss also ruled out bringing a 12th team onto the grid in 2013, putting to rest talk that a group of Canadian and American investors would have a team to replace HRT, which can’t afford to compete this year.
As for another Persian Gulf race in Dubai or Qatar, Ecclestone said it would be “difficult to pop another one in there” given F1 is limited to 20 races.
Ecclestone said he was confident there would be 20 races in 2014, confirming that Russia will stage its first F1 race in Sochi. After visiting Sochi this week, Ecclestone said “everything seems to be good” in terms of preparations. Sochi will also host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“He (President Vladimir Putin) seems delighted with the Olympics and Formula One,” Ecclestone said. “It was good. I was very impressed with what they have done.”


What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 46 min ago
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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 



AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 



AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


 
AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 


AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.