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Ecclestone gives Austin seven day deadline

NEWS STORY
17/11/2011

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that unless organizers in Austin sign a contract and pay the relevant monies the 2012 event will be cancelled.

Earlier this week, before the shock statements from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs and the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), Pitpass revealed that the F1 supremo had already given organizers a December deadline. Now, in the latest twist, Ecclestone has told Reuters that the deadline has been moved forward.

Asked to confirm that the deadline was December 7, the date on which the FIA's World Motor Sports Council meets in New Delhi to ratify the calendar, Ecclestone was adamant that it would be a lot sooner.

"It needs to be before that," he said. "We don't need any deadlines, having to thrash around at the last minute to do something. It's gone on long enough.

"They (COTA) have got next week anyway. We are going to be in Brazil so they can come back next week," he added.

Asked whether the deal which sees New Jersey join the calendar in 2013 has had any bearing on his attitude towards Austin, in the sense that he already appears to have given up on it, he said: "There's nothing to save. They can't bloody well pay.

"What do you want me to do," he continued, "wait until next year? To put all our cars on it, run around the circuit and everything and come back with no money? The teams want paying."

When it was suggested that the row is part of the brinkmanship that has become all too common in F1, Ecclestone was adamant. "It's not brinkmanship, it never has been with me. I've been trying to do a deal now with these people for 18 months or more, if they had the money, I'm sure there would be no problem."

Referring to Tavo Hellmund, the driving force behind the project, Ecclestone added: "He's gone. He hasn't got a contract any more. I don't have any contract with anybody concerning the race in Austin."

The race at the Circuit of the Americas was scheduled for Nov. 18 next year on what would have been a record 20-race calendar that also includes the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix which had to be cancelled this season due to civil unrest.

Construction was halted at the Austin track on Tuesday, with Circuit officials saying workers had been told to down tools indefinitely because they were still waiting for a contract from Formula One.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts separately ruled out the state paying any public funds in advance of the race being held.

Ecclestone rejected the possibility of Turkey, dropped for next year, being reinstated and said there would be 19 races if Austin was axed.

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