• US Grand Prix

Ecclestone on verge of scrapping Austin Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
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Bernie Ecclestone is ready to call the US Grand Prix off © Press Association

Bernie Ecclestone has said he is prepared to scrap the 2012 US Grand Prix in Austin after revealing there is no longer a valid contract to run the race.

It emerged this week that construction at the brand new circuit had ground to a halt amid contractual dispute between promoters Full Throttle Productions and the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). But Ecclestone has now revealed to the Press Association that the original race contract, issued to Full Throttle Productions, has been cancelled and that he is waiting on COTA to prove it has the money to pay for the race before he issues another.

"We've done everything we bloody well can do to make this race happen," Ecclestone told the Press Association. Asked if it could be dropped ahead of a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on December 7, where the 2012 calendar will be ratified, he added: "Yes, it will be, for sure, 100%."

"We had an agreement with Full Throttle Productions," Ecclestone explained. "Everything was signed and sealed, but we kept putting things off like the dates, various letters of credit and things that should have been sent, but nothing ever happened.

"Then these other people (COTA) came on the scene, saying that they wanted to do things, but that they had problems with Tavo. They said they had the circuit, and that they wanted an agreement with me. I told them they had to sort out the contract with Tavo, which they said they would.

"But that has gone away now because we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he was in breach. We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why we've cancelled. He's happy. But these other people haven't got a contract. All we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

"We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is via a letter of credit, normally from a bank. If people don't have the money they find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract."

Part of the funding for the race fee was supposed to be coming from the Texas Major Events Trust Fund, but state comptroller Susan Combs revealed on Tuesday that the $25 million set aside would only be made available after the race.

"Let me state clearly: We have not paid out any money for the Formula One event," she said in a statement. "The only dollars that can be spent on the United States Grand Prix are tax revenues attributable to the successful running of a race. The state of Texas will not be paying any funds in advance of the event. Further, as is the case with all METF events, each application will be reviewed and analyzed for its likely economic impact and only after the race occurs would any funds be disbursed."