Germany and France races confirmed on 2018 F1 calendar

GENEVA (AP) Grand prix races in France and Germany have been confirmed on the 21-race Formula One calendar for 2018.

The German GP, which has struggled with attendances and track fees, was scrapped this year but will return at Hockenheim on July 22.

The French GP, meanwhile, returns after a 10-year absence and will be hosted at the iconic Paul Ricard circuit, also known as Le Castellet, in southern France.

Paul Ricard last hosted the French GP in 1990. The race was then organized at Magny-Cours from 1991-2008 but was then dropped from the calendar in 2008 because of financial issues.

Both races were expected to be on the calendar for 2018 but were formally approved during a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council on Monday in Geneva.

''We wanted to finalize next season's calendar early, so that all our stakeholders would have more time to prepare,'' F1 chairman Chase Carey said. ''Thanks in part through working closely with the FIA.''

Since replacing Bernie Ecclestone, Carey has been keen to reunite F1 with some of its historical past, despite the financial difficulties experienced by iconic races such as the German GP and the Italian GP in Monza.

''France was one of the seven races that made up the first ever world championship in 1950 and it now returns after a decade,'' Carey said. ''The number of races has increased by one compared to the current season. We received numerous requests from those wishing to host a Formula One grand prix but we wanted the existing promoters to feel that we are putting all our efforts into ensuring that each race is a special event.''

As usual, the next season will begin in Australia on March 25 in Melbourne, and will end on Nov. 25 at the Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

The need to maintain a largely unchanged winter and summer break means the schedule is more intensive than 2017, particularly during the middle part of the season, with races in Europe taking place over a six-week period.

Races will also move around.

This weekend's Azerbaijan GP has been moved forward to April 29, making it the fourth race of the season. The Russian GP in Sochi, held this year at the end of April, shifts to Sept. 30. That late September slot was normally reserved for the Malaysian GP, which has been dropped.

The only doubt is over the Singapore GP on Sept. 16, which is subject to the commercial rights holder confirmation, the FIA said in its statement.

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2018 schedule:

March 25, Melbourne, Australia

April 8, Shanghai

April 15, Sakhir, Bahrain

April 29, Baku, Azerbaijan

May 13, Barcelona, Spain

May 27, Monaco

June 10, Montreal

June 24, Le Castellet, France

July 1, Spielberg, Austria

July 8, Silverstone, England

July 22, Hockenheim, Germany

July 29, Budapest, Hungary

Aug. 26, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Sept. 2, Monza, Italy

Sept. 16, Singapore

Sept. 30, Sochi, Russia

Oct. 7, Suzuka, Japan

Oct. 21, Austin, United States

Oct. 28, Mexico City

Nov. 11, Sao Paulo

Nov. 25, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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