The American press has pinned the blame squarely on Bernie Ecclestone for the demise of the US grand prix at Indianapolis. "Let's see if we miss America," F1's 76-year-old chief executive reacted after news broke that he had not renewed the contract with Indy counterpart Tony George to bring the series back to the populous Midwest city in 2008.

A columnist for the local Indianapolis Star newspaper hit back at Ecclestone, describing the necessary annual race fee of $30 million - an increase of about $18m compared to the 2007 deal - as Bernie's "extortive financial terms".

"Most locals, from all evidence, would prefer a hearty 'good riddance' to a haughty outfit whose leader never tires of biting the hand that feeds him," the columnist wrote.

An editorial in the Nevada Appeal agreed: "George had poured millions of dollars into the eight-year partnership, and I'm sure lots of those dollars stuck to Ecclestone".

Following the negotiation breakdown, internet chatrooms in the US derided Bernie, who stands more than a foot shorter than George, as 'the Poison Dwarf'.

Local Indianapolis television station WTHR's John Ketzenberger compared the US GP to budding F1 host India, which might be in a better position to meet Ecclestone's financial demands.

"Bernie must have confused India with Indiana," he said. "Maybe India needs the exposure. Indianapolis needs no such validation." (GMM)