The FIA World Motor Sport Council has confirmed a 22-race calendar for next season, with New Jersey added to the provisional list. There have been a number of changes, with Bahrain now between Malaysia and China and the new Russian Grand Prix is scheduled to be a week before the Japanese Grand Prix.
Ghana’s tie with Egypt is the stand-out fixture in the play-offs to decide which five teams will represent Africa at next year’s World Cup.
The teams were seeded for the draw on the basis of their world ranking, meaning that Egypt, who have a 100% winning record so far, were unseeded. Senegal play the Ivory Coast and Tunisia, who qualified for this stage after Cape Verde had points docked for fielding an ineligible player, face Cameroon. The lowest-ranked side left in the competition is Ethiopia, and they have a tricky tie against Nigeria, while Burkina Faso will play Algeria.
The final group stage of the qualification process in Africa is finished, so now the continent eagerly awaits the knock-out ties that will decide who will go to Brazil next year.
Qualification is split into three stages in Africa. The first is a set of two-legged ties between the lower-ranked nations. The 40 remaining countries are split into ten groups of four, and each team in a group plays the others home and away. The winner of each group enters the final round, where they will play two legs against another group winner for a place at the World Cup.
Two nations have already qualified for the World Cup from the North and Central America qualification section, with two further places up for grabs in the final two rounds of games.
Qualification for the World Cup from CONCACAF consists of four stages. The top nations get a bye to the third round and many others get through automatically to the second round. The fourth and final round is a group stage for the final six teams, with each team playing the others home and away. The teams that made it through to this part were the United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica and Panama.
The qualifying process for the South American teams is drawing to a close but there is still everything to play for, with only the hosts Brazil and Argentina assured of a place at the finals.
Every South American team is in the same group and plays the others twice, making for a very simple and easy to follow system. The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup, with the team in fifth qualifying for a play-off over two legs against Jordan.
There are thirteen places up for grabs for European teams at next year’s World Cup, but so far only Italy and the Netherlands have secured their place at the finals with two rounds of matches left to play.
The 53 members of UEFA have been divided into nine groups, with each team playing the others home and away. The top team from each group qualifies automatically, while the eight best runners-up enter a play-off round.
The qualifying phase for the teams of the Oceania Football Confederation is now complete, with the winner now waiting for a play-off to see if they will take part in the 2014 World Cup.
Qualification consists of three separate group stages, with the top sides getting a bye to the second round. This second phase splits the eight remaining teams into two groups of four, and each team plays the others once. Tahiti and New Caledonia made it through from Group A, as did New Zealand and the Solomon Islands from Group B.
In the third and final group stage, each team plays home and away against their rivals. New Zealand won every game, meaning that they will face the fourth-placed team from the North and Central America section for a place at the World Cup.
Could still qualify:
The qualifying process from the Asian Football Confederation is a complicated process, but four teams have now secured their places in next year’s World Cup.
The key stage of qualification for the Asian teams is the fourth round – a group stage that decides who qualifies automatically and also which team will enter a play-off with a side from South America. The first two stages of the competition are knock-out rounds, leaving 20 teams to compete in the third round. The teams are split into five groups with each side playing the others home and away. The top two from each group enter the fourth round.
Kimi Raikkonen looks set to move to Ferrari to race alongside Fernando Alonso for the 2014 season. If the move happens it will be a big blow for Lotus, who have already lost their technical director James Allison to the Italian team. If Lotus aim to be near the front again next season, then getting the right replacement for Raikkonen is crucial. There are no obvious candidates for the Lotus seat, but here are some names that have been linked with the Enstone-based team.
Races in Mexico, Austria and Russia have been added to the provisional calendar for the 2014 season, but New Jersey and India miss out on a slot, Autosport have revealed. This means that there could be a record 21 races next season, despite the teams saying in the past that they wouldn’t want more than 20 races in a year.