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Lauda casts fresh doubt on New Jersey race

24 July 2013

The chairman of Mercedes, former F1 world champion Niki Lauda, has said that he doesn't expect F1 to be heading to New Jersey in 2014 even though the race is included on the current tentative plans for next year's championship.

"As far as I know, it's already gone from the calendar," Lauda told the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). "It didn't happen this year, because of a lack of money."

The issue of whether or not the long-planned New Jersey race will take place against the backdrop of the neighbouring iconic skyline of New York City's Manhattan Island was cast into doubt once again after the announcement on Tuesday that F1 will return to Austria's A1 Ring next year.

The world championship had originally been planning on staging its maiden race in New Jersey this year, and a late decision to postpone the event meant that the 2013 F1 season dropped to 19 races because there was insufficient time to organise a replacement race.

A return to Austria had been one of the solutions proposed to plug the gap on the 2013 calendar after the New Jersey race was postponed, but current rules prohibiting more than 40,000 spectators at an event quashed the short-notice plans.

Next year's season already had 20 events scheduled even before the confirmation of the first Austrian GP since 2003, which was made possible by the Red Bull drinks company owner Dietrich Mateschitz buying and renovating the former Osterreichring circuit, and rechristening it the Red Bull Ring. Although the 2014 calendar won't be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council until September, Austrian organisers have stated that the race will be held on July 6.

"This is the best thing that could have happened to us," said Lauda. "I have always hoped that F1 would return here. The fact that this is a reality is down to Mr Mateschitz. It means a lot to me, as I've also won here."

With 21 races now mooted for next years, team managers are anxious about another bump in the number of events in the F1 season with O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper correspondent Livio Oricchio reporting that the prospect was "something that greatly concerns" the team principals.

"The issue will surely be discussed at the Hungaroring in the coming days," Oricchio added.

But in a separate development, F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has moved to dampen down any fears of an even-longer F1 season and said that he doesn't envisage the championship exceeding the 20 race benchmark that has become the norm in recent years.

"We will have 20 races [in 2014], Austria included," Ecclestone told Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper. "Everything else I don't know, please ask me again after the summer."

That's put the question of which of the current 21 mooted races will lose out back on the gossip agenda thanks to its late postponement this year due to the local organisers falling behind in construction of the Port Imperial Street Circuit in Weehawken, and also having difficulty securing the necessary official permits.

The race, formally titled the Grand Prix of America, would be the second of the year in the United States along with the existing United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

However the New Jersey event is not the only race with a question mark hanging over it. The Spanish Grand Prix had been due to the held at Valencia in 2014 as part of an alternating arrangement with the Circuit de Catalunya, but the street circuit is reported to already be in a dilapidated condition and no longer fit for F1 racing.

Elsewhere, South Korea is thought to be struggling to justify the race fee payable to Bernie Ecclestone's F1 commercial rights holder and considering pulling out of staging future grand prix events at the Yeongam international circuit. And there are ongoing concerns over whether the under-construction Sochi International Street Circuit will be ready to hold the inaugural Russian GP in October because of a clash with preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Ecclestone may well have more solid information about one or more of these cases and be planning accordingly, or simply be giving himself the 'spare' venue that he was lacking earlier this year when forced to delay the first New Jersey grand prix.


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