Bernie EcclestoneEnlarge Photo
Initially, the diminutive head of Formula 1's commercial entity expected to have funding and a contract in hand by today, 30 November, but Ecclestone gave the promoters another week to come up with signatures and funding, coinciding with the date the World Motor Sport Council ratifies the 2012 motorsports calendar.
"The deadline hasn't been met so we are still trying to make it happen," Ecclestone said. "They need to get some money and a pen--as soon as possible."
He made the same comments on the grid of the season closing Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday when asked about the feasibility of the Austin, TX round.
"They know full well. Deadlines are terrible things because people always go to the end of the deadline," Eccleston continued. "But if it isn't all signed before the World Motor Sport Council meeting it can't happen. We can live with it until then. I don't want any more last minute deadlines because it has been going on for months."
An impasse between the promoter, Tavo Hellmund, and the contractors on the site has caused construction at the facility to take place in lumps.
F1 scrapped a previous contract it had with Hellmund, a former driver who originally had the right to stage the proposed race. With the contract breach, F1 officials have been negotiating with Circuit of the Americas track developers, who also plan 2013 MotoGP and Australian Touring Cars races.
The last Formula 1 race in the USA was held at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007, using a portion of the famed 2.5-mile oval and negotiating turns within the grounds. It began in 2000.
If the Texas race is canceled, Formula 1 does have an alternate USGP planned on the banks of the Hudson River, starting in 2013 and continuing for a 10-year period. And that is the venue Ecclestone has clamored for all along as it provides captivating views of Manhattan's skyscrapers.
"It would be a loss to everyone," if Austin defaults, Ecclestone concluded. "I'd rather see the race happen than not."
© 2011 Anne Proffit