Austin GP looks doubtful, says Ecclestone

Updated: Nov 12, 2011, 23:24 PM IST

Abu Dhabi: Next year`s scheduled U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, is looking doubtful, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Saturday.

However, he said the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix, cancelled for this year due to civil unrest, was solid for 2012 on what would be a record 20 race calendar.

"Austin? I wouldn`t want to put my money down that that will happen. I hope it will and we are doing our best to make it happen, but I wouldn`t want to say yes," he said at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"For New York (in 2013), no problem at all."

The 81-year-old, who since announcing Texas has negotiated a deal for a race in New Jersey from 2013 with the New York skyline in the background, said the problem with Austin came down to a clash between the parties involved in constructing the circuit and promoting the race.

"What`s happened is you`ve got a guy that owns the land and started building and there`s the guy that owns the company and has got a contract with us. And they forgot to talk to each other," he said.

"The truth of the matter is maybe the people that have put the money down are perhaps a bit pissed off that he`s getting some publicity and they are not and are saying `we`ve got our money on the line, you haven`t got any money on the line.`

"They are trying to get it together. I`ve said `you guys have got to fall in love. Get married`."

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said it would be Formula One`s loss if Austin did not happen but was working on the assumption it would.

"America doesn`t need Formula One, we need America," he said. "I think we are excited about the prospect of going to the States, I`m sure Bernie is working very hard on the Texas race and New Jersey race.

"It`s in our programme and we assume we are going there and I suspect that we will. I imagine, as is often the case, there`s some posturing and negotiation but that`s not our business. The calendar says we`re going there and that`s what we`re planning on and looking forward to."

Bahrain is scheduled for April 22 next year but many in Formula One are doubtful about that going ahead.

"We believe there`s no problem, it`s on the calendar and we are going to be there," said Ecclestone.

Bahrain`s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa visited the Abu Dhabi media centre with the Briton and told reporters that he too was confident.

International lawyers are investigating the political turmoil in Bahrain that led to a bloody crackdown on anti-government demonstrators after protests that started in February. A report is due later this month.

"It is looking good," said the Prince. "As a force for moderation, sport is a great unifier.

"There are certainly things that happened in our country that nobody is proud of, but we have an important report coming out on Nov. 23 and that will really give us a narrative on the truth that we can accept and move on.

"The race is seen as the prime symbol of moderation in the country," continued Prince Salman. "Anyone with a moderate agenda, a global agenda, knows that race is what ties Bahrain to the world.

Bureau Report