14 March 2010
F1 could return to US, says Bernie
The USGP may be a surprise addition to the 2011 F1 calendar if Bernie Ecclestone can strike a deal to return to Indianapolis.
Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Formula One could yet return to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, despite the USGP there never being one of his favourites.
While others have agreed that there are probably better venues for F1 in the United States, Ecclestone appears to believe that the Brickyard still provides the only realistic option for a return, and could yet swell the 2011 schedule by one more race.
"It's only the fact that it's all the wrong crowd and the wrong people," Ecclestone told Reuters, "Nothing worked there really, so we'd have to have a big change round, but we'd like to get back there."
With India due to join the calendar next season, and no races currently facing the traditional Ecclestone wrath, the addition of a USGP would take the circus above 20 rounds for the first time. The race foundered on financial grounds after the 2007 event, with Ecclestone and then IMS boss Tony George unable to agree on a figure as a sanctioning fee. George is long gone, however, with new management in place at the circuit, although the Hulman-George family remains in control of the venue.
"We can have a look," Ecclestone insisted, "Twenty-one races? No problem, [although 20] is a round number and easy to remember. I get muddled up now with 19 or 17."
Two F1 greats, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, both agreed that America needed to be on the schedule to create a true world championship, but acknowledged the problems Ecclestone faced in returning.
"I can't write the cheque, all I can do is support it in every possible way that makes sense because I believe in it so much," Andretti said, "I was talking to Bernie and he is well aware of that need. He is pretty switched on, he's just got to figure out a way. Indy was, to me, the proper infrastructure and place to host [a race] and that's probably where it needs to be unless we find some magic investors that could put on something else somewhere else.
"The worst that could have happened was that [USF1] didn't. It's a big disappointment for all of the fans that were hoping to have their own team to cheer about, but it's just one of those things. It's a huge loss, because there was a hope there and then it fizzled."
Fittipaldi, however, claims that heading to the home of the Indianapolis 500 oval spectacular was one of the worst things F1 could have done.
"To go to Indianapolis was a big mistake," the Brazilian insisted, "The Long Beach Grand Prix was fantastic for F1, we had so much fun. It was the best – we had the Hollywood stars and the glamour of grand prix racing."
The failure of the U.S. F1 team, who were due to enter this season, has also dealt a blow for the image of the sport in North America.
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