Date:Friday November 25 2011
Two of the proposed races in the 2012 Formula One calendar may have to be cancelled, as doubts continue over their futures.
Bahrain was set to host the curtain raiser to the 2011 Formula One World Championship, but the event had to be cancelled due to political unrest in the region.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was determined to reschedule the race for later in the 2011 season, but eventually the decision was made to cancel the race and return for the 2012 season.
Over the course of the past 12 months, the country has gone through further turmoil and unrest, more than 40 people have been killed in pro-democracy protests and there is concern that April is too soon for Formula One to return to the region and the event could even be used for further protests.
At this time Bernie Ecclestone insists the event will still go ahead, but has admitted that it remains under a close eye.
'It's on the calendar. We'll be there, unless something terrible happens to stop us.' Bernie told the BBC.
'I'd wait and see what happened and then decide. Up to now they've done everything they said they were going to do.'
The future of the Austin Grand Prix also hangs in the balance.
Earlier this month construction of the proposed $250 million purpose built track was suspended following a contract dispute between the race organisers.
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 November 15 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 later clarified the situation, explaining that a previous agreement with United States Grand Prix chief Tavo Hellmund [Full Throttle Productions] was cancelled as they had been in breech of contract, which left the track developers, the Circuit of The Americas without a contract, hence the suspension of construction.
There then appeared to be doubt over whether the track would pay the required sanctioning fee [£15.8million] to Formula One ahead of the event, which was why a new contract had not been offered.
The Circuit of the Americas were told they had until the World Motor Sport Council meeting in New Delhi on December 7th to resolve the dispute and talks appear to be ongoing.
'We have been ready to send Mr. Ecclestone a sanctioning fee cheque for some time now,' explained Austin track chief Bobby Epstein to Autosport Magazine.
'He hasn't received it yet because the new contract presented to us two weeks ago contained unrealistic and unfeasible demands. We have signed and returned a contract similar to what we anticipated receiving.
'This race should be a reality, but if we are going to make the 2012 race date, we must receive a countersignature in the coming few days. We believe the teams, fans, sponsors and local businesses share our enthusiasm and hope that their voices will be heard.'
Date:Friday November 25 2011
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