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Bernie set to drop the axe on US Grand Prix

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is set to end the saga behind the Circuit of The Americas and drop it from next seasons calendar.

Ecclestone hinted that the Grand Prix was in doubt while in Abu Dhabi earlier this month and this week, construction of the proposed $250 million purpose built track was suspended following a contract dispute between the race organisers.

'We've done everything we bloody well can to make this race happen,' Ecclestone told the Press Association.

When asked if the event was at risk of being dropped from the 2012 calendar, Bernie replied: 'Yes, it will be for sure, 100 per cent.'

The circuit was reportedly set to be ready to host their first United States Grand Prix towards the end of the 2012 Formula One season and previous reports had suggested that they would continue to host the event until 2021.

Funding was reportedly in place and the construction work was supposedly on schedule.

Over 300 people had been working on the site to prepare the circuit, but they were told on Tuesday to down tools indefinitely, while a contractual dispute between Formula One officials and the track promoters was resolved.

It had initially been reported that the Texas promoters had yet to receive an official contract from Formula One Management however Bernie Ecclestone has clarified the situation.

'we've cancelled Tavo's [Hellmund - Full Throttle Productions] contract as he was in breach.

'We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why we've cancelled. He's happy. But these other people haven't got a contract.
Bernie said.

Full Throttle Productions were the company behind the initial agreement that was struck between Formula One Administration in May 2010.

However now that the original deal with United States Grand Prix chief Tavo Hellmund was cancelled by Ecclestone, that has left the track developers, the Circuit of The Americas without a contract, hence the suspension of construction.

Ecclestone says the reason why they have yet to receive a contract is because he is yet to receive a guarantee of payment from Circuit of The Americas [COTA] to pay the fee for hosting the event, reportedly $25million [15.8million].

All we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

'We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is via a letter of credit, normally from a bank. If people don't have the money they find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract.'
Ecclestone concluded.

Representatives of the Circuit of the Americas have apparently declined to comment, while the Texas state government issued a statement saying that the money that had been put aside to pay the sanctioning fee to Formula One would not be paid until after the first race.

It is thought the announcement of the New Jersey race in 2013 has made the event less appealing for the state, as the economic benefits for hosting the race will decrease with two races in the USA.

It is believed COTA will have until the World Motor Sport Council meeting in New Delhi on December 7th to resolve the dispute.

If that matter hasn't been resolved by this date, it is likely the event will be cancelled and Formula One will have to wait until 2013 before it heads back to the USA for the newly announced event in New Jersey.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 17 2011

Time: 11:00AM


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