The organisers of the Indian Racing League’s i1 Super Series have been under some stress to reshuffle and rearrange their debut racing calendar. I had written an earlier post which spoke about a possible postponement of the i1 Super Series to April (Read post: The i1 Super Series Calendar Is Further Postponed), however, a quick visit to their website revealed yet another change in the calendar.
(Read post: FIA Approved And Confirmed i1 Super Series Calendar For 2012)
The revised i1 Super Series Calendar dates are as follows:
i1 Super Prix Qatar, 11th February 2012 (Losail International Circuit)
i1 Super Prix Bahrain, 25th February 2012 (Bahrain International Circuit)
i1 Super Prix Abu Dhabi, 10th March 2012 (Yas Marina Circuit)
i1 Super Prix Dubai, 17th March 2012 (Dubai Autodrome)
i1 Super Prix New Delhi, 1st April 2012 (Buddh International Circuit)
The above calendar is the third revision by my calculations, just about the number of rule changes that Formula1 undergoes during every season.
However, I would say that this calendar does make some sense, considering that the series was postponed for two main reasons; first, non-availability of the Buddh International Circuit till end-March and second, the state elections in Uttar Pradesh. As expected and largely voiced by every motorsport journalist and fan in the country, the organisers have slotted the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) as the final race of the calendar, thereby making the most of the months BIC is not available by racing elsewhere!
Sepang, which is one of the most favoured racing destinations in Asia, has been dropped as a hosting venue and I am sure this is because of date clashes with MotoGP, Formula1 and / or other series it would host. Replacing Sepang is the Dubai Autodrome Circuit, which also means that the series will be racing only in the Middle East and India. Will it be missing out on the large motorsport audience in the far-east?
There is no word on the driver confirmations yet, which I think will need to be re-done considering that the series is no longer a ‘winter season only’. My assumption would be that currently active drivers like Chandhok, Liuzzi, Ebrahim, Patel, Jani, etc. would have difficulty in confirming to the entire calendar as these proposed dates could clash with their regular racing calendar which would usually start in March. Does this mean that a new list of drivers could be announced by the organisers?
(Read post: The i1 Super Series Driver Line Up Could Have A Better Selection Of Indian Drivers)
While the broadcast of the i1 Super Series will overlap the opening round of the 2012 Formula1 season, the 2012 Australian Grand Prix (which will be held from 16th to 18th March 2012), the organisers have planned well to ensure that their series concludes before the start of the Indian Premier League. This could possibly be the smartest commercial decision yet! And an overlap with the 2012 Australian Grand Prix broadcast might just work in their favour. Historically, the broadcast of the Australian GP ends by mid-day latest and if Ten Sports were to plan their broadcast to start around the same hour, there would well be some spillover viewership that could be achieved. (Scheduling geniuses at work?)
The other interesting observation that I have made and could be ‘blamed’ as ‘over-reading’ is that all dates of the proposed calendar fall on a ‘Saturday’, except for the New Delhi Super Prix. One wonders if this is an oversight or if the plan is to end the i1 Super Prix on Saturdays itself! Again, scheduling issues forcing this change?
And last and hopefully the least, this calendar is a proposed one and yet to be approved by the FIA. Do you still want me to comment further?
For those new to motorsport and the concept of i1 Super Series, do read my introductory piece here – Indian Racing League is launched, welcome the i1 Super Series
You can also get to know more about the series by listening to the i1 Super Series podcast.
Most read i1 Super Series topic on my blog: Should Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok drive in the i1 Super Series
8 comments On The 2012 Calendar Of The i1 Super Series Revised For The Third Time
Races are on Saturdays as the Middle East countries weekend is Friday / Saturday. Would make no sense to have the race on Sunday as its basically like Monday in most countries.
True Abhay. But would i1 Super Series, which is largely targetting India, be able to attract TV audiences on a Saturday? While the Friday/Saturday weekend is true, Formula1 and MotoGP still stick to a Saturday/Sunday format. Must be some other reason then I would safely assume.
I don’t think there is another reason. Its a compromise that had to be made to balance TV viewership with ticket sales. F1 and Moto GP stick with Saturday / Sunday due to the global audience and with the high profile nature of these events ticket sales is not an issue.
Like I said, that does seem like a possibility. i1 Super Series’ communication yet has been to build the series as a TV property in India. In which case Sunday is key. And by my sources, the series hasn’t planned massive advertising anywhere else but in the Indian markets. I am not too sure if ticket sales would pick up minus the advertising in the ME countries.
And even if they would, why would ME citizens come out in hordes to watch an Indian racing championship? And that too see some young Indian racers in action? The small factor here could be the ex-F1 names that are associated. More so, the ME countries do have better and far more competitive championships that run on their tracks. What would be their pull towards i1?
They would come to simply see the international star drivers. The names linked with the series are known worldwide and racing fans in these regions would enjoy watching them race in identical machinery.
As for the local championships, Qatar does not do much racing and in the UAE there is the National racing which is hardly competitive or better than what i1 plans to be including all championships being low on competitor numbers.
I do see your point in regards to gaining tv viewership on a Saturday. But only time will tell on that one. But honestly I don’t see any other reason as to why they would race on a Saturday apart from the weekend issue.
Also selling tickets should be very important to the series as empty grand stands do not look good on TV.
Maybe you could get some views from the organizers on this, although that’s highly unlikely based on their communication so far which is little to non existent.
The really, really stupid thing about this schedule is that if the organisers had moved Dubai and Delhi just one week later, their only clashes would be with GT1 (which from what I can see has no drivers involved in i1), Indycars (which contributes Mann) and F1. As it is, the last two races clash with F1, WEC, LMS, Indycars and V8 Supercars – which between them account for Fisichella, (probably) Liuzzi, Chandhok, (possibly due to GTC becoming part of LMS) Yoong, (possibly) Yamamoto, Salo and Mann. Which means there could be as few as 4 “international-class” racers available.
Some of the Indian drivers will not be available either but there’s so many of them I don’t think that will cause much difficulty in itself. But a Delhi finale with only Villenueve, Frentzen, Alesi and Allemann might not be particularly attractive to anyone who isn’t already a close follower of grassroots Indian motorsport.
Thanks for explaining that. I was already checking out the various series and the drivers availabilities around it. Glad you’ve explained it. Cheers!
Really disappointed to see no Sepang.