Tuesday, 20 December 2011

South Africa ear-marked for Grand Prix in 2013: Bernie has spoken

BERNIE Ecclestone confirmed last Friday that South Africa are right back on track to host a Grand Prix in 2013.
The controversial Formula One supremo, confirming that his rubber-burning circus would return to the United States after a five-year absence, has been hinting at a return to the tip of Africa for some months.
Today (December 20), South Africa's excellent eNews channel have announced Cape Town could host a Grand Prix the year after next - but that is old news to readers of South Africa's new Sunday tabloid Scoop!
I quoted Ecclestone confirming the 2013 situation last Sunday. And two weeks ago in Scoop! I reported that Ecclestone was looking to expand to Russia, Mexico and South Africa when he said: “Europe is finished. We will reduce the European races from seven to five.”
The pint-sized 81-year-old billionaire had suggested next year’s US race scheduled for a brand new circuit in Texas would never make it.
But on Saturday he told the BBC that Austin would go ahead on November 18 next year, with a second US race planned for New Jersey from 2013.
Ecclestone, 81, told Al Jazeera English: “The US has been slow to get F1 because they want to see a profit before they start.”
Then he spoke of a South African race from 2013 and insisted F1 would return to Bahrain next year after the cancellation of the 2011 grand prix.
Talking to veteran British broadcaster Sir David Frost, he said: “Formula 1 will not be big in America. But Formula 1 will be in Russia for 2014, and in South Africa by 2013 even.”
Ecclestone, the son of a fisherman who left school to race motorbikes aged 16, insists Bahrain remains an option despite continuing unrest in the country. He said: “We’re happy to go there if we are invited, we’ll be delighted.”
Cape Town lead the race to host a South African Grand Prix, with a consortium set to meet sports minister Fikile Mbalula over possible government back­ing for a notoriously expensive venture.
Mbalula said last week: “Their F1 proposal has come across my desk but we have not sat down. I hope to have a proper sitdown before Christmas to get a full briefing. At the moment I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.”
South Africa last hosted a Grand Prix at the Kyalami circuit near Midrand in 1993.
Confirming the return to the US, Ecclestone said: “Yes, there will be a race in Austin and we hope it will be there for the next 10 years.”
Representatives from Austin ­reached an agreement with F1 officials hours before the World Motor Sports Council met in New Delhi to approve the 2012 F1 ­racing calendar.
Red McCombs, the man behind Austin’s Grand Prix adventure, confirmed last week: “Mr Ecclestone received his cheque today for the USGP. We want to thank the fans supporting us, the local officials and businesses that have encouraged us, the state of Texas, Circuit of The Americas’ staff and Bernie himself.”
But just a month ago, Austin’s Grand Prix deal seemed so uncertain that officials halted work on the $300-million (R24 billion) 3.4 mile (4.2 km) circuit near the Texan capital.
That's typical of the way Formula One runs under Ecclestone. Even today on eNews, Cape Town Grand Prix consortium spokesmen were confirming they have a long way to go before talk of 2013 becomes official - but Bernie, as always, can scent a lucrative new venue before they're even on the grid.
For comments from Cape Town consortium on this story: http://www.facebook.com/capetowngrandprix#!/capetowngrandprix/posts/273997419316924?notif_t=feed_comment

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