Organisers of the FIA World Touring Car Championship have announced more details for the 2012 championship season, including a more streamlined championship calendar and further changes to the series’ already overcomplicated qualifying format.
To the calendar first, and next year’s championship season will see all of the European rounds contained on the calendar, while the second half of the championship will feature all of the flyaway races.
Other changes include the dropping of the Belgian and Czech Republic rounds from the calendar, while the United States race at Sonoma is confirmed, along with the Race of Morocco, which makes its return to the calendar after being dropped due to a lack of funding support.
The traditional season-opener at Brazil has now been moved to a July slot, meaning that the round at Monza now assumes the role of season-opener, followed by four more European rounds, with a brief departure to Morocco for the race on the streets of Marrakech.
Despite concerns that the German round would be replaced by an event on Austrian soil, a round on BMW’s home turf will go ahead, with the traditional event at Oschersleben the most likely option.
Disappointingly for racing purists, Porto will play host once again for the Race of Portugal, despite traditionally being altered with either the Estoril or Algarve circuits. This year’s round was almost devoid of overtaking.
After the Hungaroring’s short-notice (but highly popular) debut on the calendar this year, the event has been given permanent billing for next year’s calendar.
Next year’s provisional calendar reads as follows:
|11 MAR||Race of Italy||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza|
|01 APR||Race of Spain||Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia|
|15 APR||Race of United Kingdom||Donington Park|
|29 APR||Race of Germany||TBA|
|06 MAY||Race of Hungary||Hungaroring, Budapest|
|20 MAY||Race of Morocco||Streets of Marrakech|
|10 JUN||Race of Portugal||Circuito da Boavista, Porto|
|22 JUL||Race of Brazil||Autódromo Internacional de Curitiba|
|23 SEP||Race of United States||Infineon Raceway, Sonoma|
|21 OCT||Race of Japan||Suzuka International Circuit|
|04 NOV||Race of China||Shanghai International Circuit|
|18 NOV||Guia Race of Macau||Guia Circuit, Macau|
The series’ much criticised qualifying system is also undergoing another interesting overhaul in a bid to counter the problems the current format has created.
After the tried-and-trusted system of reversing Race 1’s top-eight finishers to determine the starting order for Race 2, organisers brought in a complicated format for 2011: the ten-fastest qualifiers in Q1 were reversed to arrange the top-ten qualifiers for Race 2. The format led to drivers ‘sandbagging’ in Q1, driving quickly enough to make the Q2 cut, but not too quickly as to secure a disadvantageous position on the grid for Race 2.
The 2012 proposal will be that the top-ten runners will be reversed to determine the Race 2 grid, but bonus championship points will be given to the five fastest drivers in the session, to balance out the prospect of ‘sandbagging’.
And in another attempt to prevent drivers from lapping slowly in Q2, twelve drivers will be allowed into the final session, with only the ten-fastest drivers’ positions reversed.
[Images via FIA WTCC Media]