5 August 2009
Canada, USA poised for calendar return?
Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that both Canada and the United States could return to the Formula One schedules in coming years, even though no definite deals have yet been struck.
Speaking to Swiss magazine Motorsport Aktuell, the sport's commercial supremo admitted that he was aiming to reinstate the Canadian Grand Prix as early as next season, while the return of the USGP may have to wait a further year. The long-standing Montreal event followed the latest iteration of the USGP, in Indianapolis, off the calendar in 2009, after financial terms could not be reached among claims that FOM was still owed money for previous Canadian events.
"We will return to Canada in 2010," Ecclestone insisted, " I know everyone connected with F1 loves the Canadian Grand Prix."
Canada has been a fixture on the F1 schedule since 1978, with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal staging a race every year except 1987 - when sponsorship problems forced its absence - before being dropped for 2009. Ecclestone said that the potential deal would keep Montreal on the calendar 'for at least the next seven years', although a formal agreement would have to be reached 'within the next few weeks' in order to make 2010 a reality.
Ecclestone's confidence regarding Canada's place on next year's calendar is not yet shared by all, however, with Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay telling RDS Radio that negotiations regarding the race's return were still ongoing - and, crucially, that Ecclestone has not altered the financial terms, which he deemed 'unacceptable'.
The USGP, meanwhile, has been both more sporadic and more nomadic, and Ecclestone suggested that Indianapolis - which held the last race in 2007 - was unlikely to be considered for 2011, despite former CEO Tony George being ousted from office. The race foundered over the amount of money FOM wanted from the Brickyard for the pleasure of hosting F1, and Ecclestone hinted that he would be looking to alternative venues in future.
"We've more or less decided on the calendar for next year," he insisted, "We're not going back to America this year, but the year after, but forget about Indianapolis - we won't go there again."
As well as Canada, meanwhile, Ecclestone hinted at the inclusion of South Korea in next year's world tour, but confirmed that he felt that it was still to early for India to be considered, despite progress being made with the construction of a bespoke F1 venue.
"We want to have a super circuit over there, where everything is perfect, but we need a bit more time for that," he revealed, suggesting that India could join America among the candidates for inclusion in 2011.
Despite lining up new venues, however, Ecclestone also expressed a desire to see Germany sort out its problems - possibly fuelling his wish for Michael Schumacher to prolong his return from retirement even if Felipe Massa returns from injury next season. Ecclestone revealed that he hoped Hockenheim could again become a permanent fixture on the schedule, with the Nurburgring possibly entering a race-share with Spa-Francorchamps.
There was no threat issued to the British GP, which Ecclestone has already said will revert to Silverstone if Donington Park cannot complete the makeover it requires, while F1 hopefuls Russia and Mexico will have to wait a little longer before being considered for inclusion.
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