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New Jersey still a doubt, insists Ecclestone

25 June 2012

Despite the hoop-la that surrounded Sebastian Vettel's visit to the Big Apple after the recent Canadian Grand Prix, there is no guarantee that the proposed Grand Prix of America will take place next season.

The double world champion took part in a press conference to discuss the event, before driving a road car around the layout that follows the streets of Weehawken and Port Imperial, but F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has since repeated his belief that the race will not be part of the 2013 schedule. Having first raised doubts over its ability to be ready while attending the Chinese GP in April, the 81-year again questioned its viability late last month, this time in an apparent effort to get contracts signed and financial deadlines met. It is unclear whether his latest negative comments relate to either of these issues, but his initial flat denial was later tempered by some leeway for the organisers.

"No. Definitely no," Ecclestone told BBC News' Inside F1 programme before admitting that perhaps the situation wasn't quite that clear cut, "We'll have to see, I need to go and have another look. What I've seen up to now, and what's been going on, I'm not quite as sure as they are. If they can get it completed and confirm to us it will be done, for sure, they'll be on the calendar."

While work has already started on a permanent pit building, video footage of the proposed circuit does little to settle Ecclestone's nerves, but race president Tom Cotter insists that development is running ahead of schedule and the venue would be ready to take up its proposed mid-season slot alongside Montreal next June.

While Vettel reported that there was still a long way to go before the track could be raced on, BBC F1 analyst David Coulthard was also in New Jersey as Red Bull and Infiniti took over the press event, and expressed his own doubts regarding the potential readiness of the circuit.

"They think they're ahead of schedule, but it's a lot of work," he admitted, "The road is so bowed in the middle, [and] that's the main thing they have to [sort out] to have a proper street track."

The other headache facing Ecclestone should New Jersey live up to its promise and be ready on time is making room for it on the 2013 schedule. Despite rumours that next year's calendar could expand to 23 races under terms of the new Concorde Agreement currently under discussion, Ecclestone has said that he does not expect next year's schedule to go beyond the present 20 rounds. Korea is expected to drop off the carousel, as may Valencia if plans for the two Spanish venues to share a single grand prix in future, but France is already angling after a return and both Mexico and Argentina have also been mentioned as possible additions.


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