- US Grand Prix
Ecclestone gives Austin one week
Bernie Ecclestone has issued the Circuit of the Americas owners with a deadline of "next week" to try and save the United States Grand Prix.
Construction work on the site in Austin, Texas has halted since it was revealed that the promoters didn't have a contract in place to host the race in 2012 following a breach. With state funding in advance of the event having also been withdrawn, Ecclestone said that a contract would need to be signed before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meets on December 7 to ratify the final 2012 calendar.
"It needs to be before that," Ecclestone said. "We don't need any deadlines, having to thrash around at the last minute to do something. It's gone on long enough. They [the Texas circuit owners] have got next week anyway. We are going to be in Brazil so they can come back next week."
Asked if that would be the end of the race if the deadline was not met Ecclestone replied: "Yeah, yeah."
Ecclestone also said that it was not a case of brinkmanship, and that he would have no option but to cancel the race completely if Austin could not find the funds to secure a deal.
"There's nothing to save. They can't bloody well pay. What do you want me to do, wait until next year? To put all our cars on it, run around the circuit and everything and come back with no money? The teams want paying. It's not brinkmanship; it never has been with me. I've been trying to do a deal now with these people for 18 months or more … if they had the money, I'm sure there would be no problem."
A statement from Circuit of the Americas president Steve Sexton said that it would look to put together a deal to host the race from 2013 onwards in order to ensure the track has the maximum preparation time.
"We have been excited for and working towards a 2012 USGP race and now understand that Mr Ecclestone is interested in moving the Austin race to 2013," Sexton said. "We know the US market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of the Americas to be ready."
Race promoter Tavo Hellmund said that Ecclestone had been as helpful as possible, and that the circuit owners only had themselves to blame.
"The reason we don't have a contract with Formula One is because as a project, we have failed many times over to fulfill our financial obligations to Formula One. It's literally that simple," Hellmund said. "Right now we should be praising Mr. Ecclestone. We were in breach on multiple issues as late as May. And he sent numerous requests and letters that we were all aware of how to fix it and we failed to do that."