Just a week after saying that the Australian Grand Prix was an important part of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone has now hinted that the event could be dropped from the calendar as early as next season.

Ecclestone was quoted last week as saying that the event was 'as important as Monaco' [See separate story HERE] but has now suggested that the race at Albert Park could be dropped to make way for new events joining the calendar in the coming years.

The United States Grand Prix will return to the schedule at the new circuit currently being built in Austin, Texas while Russia will join the calendar in 2014, which would push the number of races above the limit of 20 that Ecclestone is keen to retain.

As a result, Ecclestone has suggested that, with the Mayor of Melbourne questioning the financial viability of the race, it could be time for Australia to be dropped from the calendar.

The commercial rights holder also suggested that one of the two events held in Spain could be dropped, with questions having been raised over both the Spanish GP at Catalunya and the European GP in Valencia over the off-season.

"We are probably going to have to drop two races to fit in Austin and Russia," he told the Express. "Australia are saying they don't want a race. If Australia want to go, they can go and the next one is maybe one of the races in Spain.

"We will have to have only one race per country in future. We are alternating in Germany so maybe that's what we will do in Spain."

Ecclestone's comments come on the back of a senior government official revealing that the state of Victory was keen to discuss an extension to its current deal [See separate story HERE].

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