Formula 1 commercial rights manager Bernie Ecclestone says he is close to finalizing a contract for the Valencia and Barcelona races to alternate on the calendar from next year, meaning Spain will have just one race.
After months of speculation about the future of the Valencia Grand Prix, Ecclestone revealed that that event and Spanish GP organizers have agreed to share the race, starting in 2013. In an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Ecclestone said that he was now working on sorting out dates going forward.
"Both Valencia and Barcelona have agreed that the best way is to alternate, and now we are trying to choose the dates," explained Ecclestone. "We wanted to see how we could help Valencia, and alternating with Barcelona is a good solution. Sharing the race will be a good idea, providing they are all fine with it."
Ecclestone dismissed recent suggestions that this year's race in Valencia could be in doubt, and added that he would have been happy to stay there beyond its current contract which expires in 2014.
"We really want to be in Valencia. Everyone is happy there; both the teams and the sponsors, and it would be a shame to miss an event like that," he said. "I would like to continue after 2014 having F1 in Valencia. I've always been very happy with the way they have organized the races. I have never complained and the people have always been very friendly and hospitable to me."
The alternating-race scheme has been pushed for some time by the regional Catalonian government, looking to cut expense on its Barcelona race due to the ongoing economic slowdown in Spain.
"For budgetary reasons, this (solution) would be best," a spokesman for Catalan president Artur Mas told the Diario AS newspaper last week.