Graz, Austria: Formula One looks likely to have 19 races next year despite organisers tweaking the calendar to create space for a 20th round in Europe, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Wednesday.
Speaking to Austria’s Kleine Zeitung newspaper, the 82-year-old Ecclestone poured cold water on suggestions that the country’s grand prix could be reinstated after a 10-year absence to take the vacant July 21 slot.
“Really? Who says that? Until now I have not talked about this with anyone,” Ecclestone said of speculation that a race could be held at Spielberg’s revamped Red Bull-owned circuit, formerly known as the A1 Ring.
Ecclestone said he had not spoken to Red Bull’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz for some time and there had been no approach by the Austrian energy drinks company, whose team have won the F1 title for the past three years.
He added that the lack of hotels in that part of rural Austria remained a problem.
“At the moment I am thinking more about Turkey and a return to Istanbul,” said Ecclestone, although he recognised those efforts might come to nothing.
The Turkish race was removed from this year’s calendar due to disagreements over the hosting fees and money has again proved a stumbling block in talks to have the circuit reinstated.
Turkey’s motorsport federation has said some government funding will be required but the country’s sports minister ruled that out last week and said it was entirely a matter for the private sector.
“At the moment I think that we will have only 19 grands prix next year,” said Ecclestone, who had a record 20 races on the calendar this season.
“That would not be a big problem for F1.”
The vacancy was created by the postponement to 2014 of a planned street-circuit race in New Jersey, against a backdrop of the New York skyline.
The calendar uncertainty has been irksome for others already, with MotoGP’s governing body and the organisers of the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Britain both changing their dates to accommodate Formula One’s latest calendar revision and avoid a clash.
The German MotoGP round at the Sachsenring and Goodwood, a hugely popular event on the British motorsport calendar, had been scheduled for July 7 — a date now filled by the German Formula One Grand Prix, which was moved forward to create a space for a July 21 race that may not happen.