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Ecclestone hasn't entirely given up on the USA

NEWS STORY
27/01/2007

Although Indianapolis F1 promoter Tony George has only signed a one-year deal, effectively leaving the USA without a round of the World Championship in 2008, Bernie Ecclestone is confident that America will remain on the calendar.

"Tony did a good job for us," Ecclestone told Sports Illustrated. "He's done everything we asked. First class, zero complaints."

Refuting claims that Indianapolis, and indeed the USA, is about to drop out of F1 (again), Ecclestone hinted that there could be two races in the not too distant future.

"Maybe we wouldn't need to make a change, maybe we can add a race," said the Englishman. "Other places are looking at us."

Other places are indeed looking at F1, including Las Vegas, however, thus far, little appears to be happening, with promoters unwilling and unable to meet Ecclestone's financial demands, demands that (seemingly) only governments are willing and able to meet.

Ecclestone explained why countries like China - which joined the F1 schedule in 2004 - South Korea, India and Singapore are eager to be part of the Formula One World Championship: "The people in China want to be part of the rest of the world," he said. "They're prepared to do things to make it happen. Look what they've done for us. It's the government that puts the money up."

Recently, Indianapolis Motor Speedway's President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood, said that if F1 is to succeed in America it has to be at Indianapolis. However, he warned that F1 is in fierce competition with other sports and the entertainment market.

"We've made a huge investment," he said. "And if F1 is going to be successful in America, Indy is the right place.

"Yes, we've heard about Vegas and other places, but I don't think any place offers what we have - the history, the heritage and the ability to stage a world class race. Think about where they used to run and some of the temporary street courses - there is no comparison.

"We're going to do our best," he added. "We're going to try hard to make it a success and make it come back year after year. If we wanted to cut and run it would have happened already based on the occurrence a couple of years ago. But we think it can succeed, and that's what we're committed to do."

However, Ecclestone is of the opinion that Formula One's woes in America are largely due to TV coverage, or the lack of it.

"Really and truly I don't believe Formula One is ever going to be big in America until we get national television, so that the whole World Championship is on one channel like Fox or ABC," he admitted. "The people we are with now (SpeedTV) do a bloody good job for us, but are limited as to how many households they reach.

"We get the same ratings as Champ Car and IRL. Short of two million," he added. "That's nothing. More people in Malta watch."

And that Mr E is patently wrong, as we pointed out before, according to the CIA's website which records data for countries, Malta has a population of 400,214.

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