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Malta eyes Formula 1 with new circuit

 Sam Collins
 Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Formula 1 could head to Malta in future, if a government backed proposal for a new circuit comes to fruition. In a call for expressions of interest published in Racecar Engineering magazine, the Maltese Parliamentary Secretariat for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport highlights its desire to create a multi-purpose educational and sports facility which would include a race circuit built to FIA category 1 standards.

While the Maltese proposal does not state an interest in hosting a Formula 1 World Championship round, it is clearly aimed at attracting the F1 teams for winter testing. 

The circuit, if it is built, will operate year-round with a specific focus on Northern European participants seeking out warmer climates in the winter months. This is of specific interest to Formula 1 teams who in late January and February every year search for testing venues for their new cars. Currently this tends to take place at Jerez initially then later at Barcelona which is teams preferred venue. However recent winters have seen very low temperatures at both venues resulting in less than ideal data for those taking part as well as disrupted running. Additionally the Jerez circuit is not felt to have a particularly representative surface as it is highly abrasive, and overall the facility has seen better days. 

Test sessions at Bahrain International Circuit which does have stable weather (aside from the odd sandstorm) have taken place but many teams feel that the facility is too far from their bases, which are predominantly in the UK.  

Malta could address many of these issues with its proposals with the island nation's stable climate and proximity to mainland Europe. The government documents relating to the circuit's development point out that part of its purpose would be to attract major international racing series, including Formula 3 and similar classes. 

The proposed facility would also include facilities for concerts, conferencing and a racing school. A hotel and museum of motoring and transport heritage would also be built on site. Road safety and driver training would play a major part in the facility's layout, with a dedicated area for these activities. A CIK Kart circuit would also be built alongside the main track.

The proposal is currently open for expressions of interest and a 110 hectare parcel of land has been earmarked for the development. Though no timescales have been indicated, it is unlikely that construction will start until at least late 2016. Malta currently has no major racing facilities beyond a drag strip at Hal-Far Raceway.  However the nation does host an annual historic event in the capital Valetta which includes demonstration runs and time trials.

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