Austria to get the chop in 2004

The Austrian GP contract will not be renewed in 2004, according to reports in the Austrian press. The race organizers - the local government - has a contract to continue to race until 2006 but it seems that in every F1 contract these days there is a clause which cancels the contract if there are problems with tobacco advertising and our understanding is that the new European Union ban on tobacco companies using "mild" and "light" in their names, which is due to come into force in September 2003, has given the F1 authorities the right to cancel the event.

The loss of Austria will not be greeted with much sympathy in F1 circles as the race was held in an area which did not really have the infrastructure to support the event. The new races in Shanghai and Bahrain need spaces on the calendar and the loss of Austria was anticipated to make way for the event, the tobacco regulation simply providing the way out for F1.

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