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Williams sceptical re USA's return to F1 calendar

NEWS STORY
27/02/2009

While fans contemplate the possibility of a fully-fledged American race team, complete with American drivers, British F1 veteran Frank Williams believes it will be some time before the United States is back on the Grand Prix calendar.

"It is a disappointment to all the teams that there is no presence in North America," said Williams yesterday at a pre-season media get-together. "We pressured Bernie to resolve that but I think his problem as a promoter is that he sees no race track that is good enough, that is to say, one that is ready to race on, and he's probably right.

"There are some good tracks in America," he admitted, "really demanding circuits but the safety features don't compare at all to what is required by the FIA or the GPDA. My private opinion is that we are a little bit of a way off yet but Bernie is brilliant at surprises.

Of course, other than safety, the big factor is money, and at this time nobody is willing to stump up the sort of money FOM is looking for. F1 could have continued at Indianapolis, a track that never really won over F1 drivers or fans, but owner Tony George is cut from the same fabric as Ecclestone, a man who plays hardball and doesn't give in.

The teams want to be in America as do the manufacturers, especially in these difficult times. The fans want the USA (and Canada) back on the calendar feeling that without North America it is not truly a World Championship, but in the end it all comes down to money.

There is also the matter of an F1 calendar that is already full, and with South Korea and India joining the schedule in the next couple of years things look even more bleak for North American race fans.

"We're a little bit full I think for the next few years," said Williams. "Something in Europe may have to go and we sincerely hope it's not Britain."

Sadly, in a sport in which sentimentality plays no part - unless it has marketing value - Britain could well be the country to make way for the USA, as Mike Lawrence is always telling us, follow the money.

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