SAO PAULO — Formula One’s boss isn’t optimistic about the U.S. Grand Prix taking place next year and has set a Wednesday deadline for American organizers to guarantee its long-term financial backing.
Organizers for the proposed race in Austin, Texas, say they have agreed to pay the sanctioning fee to secure a spot on next year’s race calendar, but that’s not enough for F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.
“They might pay something now, but it’s the future we are looking for. We are not looking for (a) short term (solution),” he said Friday ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix. “They haven’t gotten enough security. We are looking for security in the long term.”
Ecclestone said he has yet to receive any money and that organizers don’t have to sign the contract if they’re unhappy with the terms.
Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas, said in a statement Thursday that the new contract they received two weeks ago “contained unrealistic and unfeasible demands.” He said the fee is ready to be paid but wouldn’t be sent until they receive a signed contract from F1 with the changes made by organizers.
The statement also said that Circuit of The Americas offered to establish an advance payment schedule for F1 races in the United States beyond 2012, thus providing the long-term financial guarantees asked for by Ecclestone.
The F1 boss said the race in Austin would be canceled if no deal was reached by next Wednesday. Two weeks ago at the Abu Dhabi GP, he said the deadline was Sunday.
The race in Texas would be in November and mark the return of F1 to the U.S. after a five-year absence. Indianapolis was the last host in 2007. Previously, Phoenix was host from 1989-91, while Watkins Glen in upstate New York staged the race from 1961-80.
Ecclestone also said the 2012 Bahrain GP would remain on the schedule despite the recent increase in violent clashes in the country.
“No problem with that,” Ecclestone said. “We should’ve been there this year.”
The 2011 race in Bahrain was supposed to be the season opener in March but was called off amid violent anti-government protests. Motor sport’s governing body wanted to try to reschedule the race there later this year but that proved impossible.