Responding to renewed threats by Formula 1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone that the United States Grand Prix in Austin is on the brink of cancellation, Circuit of The Americas president Steve Sexton issued a statement saying track organizers now hope the race can be pushed back to 2013.
“We have been excited for and working toward a 2012 USGP race and now understand that Mr. Ecclestone is interested in moving the Austin race to 2013,” Sexton said. “We know the U.S. market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of The Americas to be ready.”
Ecclestone told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that any last-minute deal to save the event needs to be done before Dec. 7, when the FIA World Motor Sport Council will meet to confirm 2012 dates.
“It needs to be before that,” Ecclestone 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 have got next week, anyway. We are going to be in Brazil so they can come back next week.”
Because of a lack of finances and the internal dispute among the track's management, Ecclestone indicated the race is basically on life support.
“There's nothing to save. They can't bloody well pay," Ecclestone said. "What do you want me to do, 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.
“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.”
A shift of date to 2013 would mean that the Austin event would take place in the same year as the inaugural New Jersey Grand Prix, which is penciled in for June that season as part of a doubleheader with the Canadian GP. Event promoter Tavo Hellmund acknowledged in a press conference late Thursday that the circuit had been in breach of its contract with Ecclestone, but remained optimistic that the situation could be salvaged.