Bernie Ecclestone says next year's US Grand Prix is set to be axed

By Andrew BensonBBC Sport
Coulthard goes off-road at Austin circuit

Next year's inaugural United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, is on the brink of being axed, according to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The news comes a day after developers of the new Circuit of Americas track said building had stopped.

Ecclestone said the 18 November race would be called off at the next meeting of F1's governing body the FIA.

"Yes, it will be, for sure," said Ecclestone, adding he was waiting for guarantees of payment.

The FIA World Motorsport Council is meeting on 7 December.

It is the latest development in a long-running saga surrounding the race, which was initially lauded when it was announced last year because it meant the return of the USA to the F1 calendar for the first time since 2007.

This week has already been a tumultuous one for the event.

Ecclestone said at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the weekend that he had doubts about whether the race would happen.

The Texas state government then issued a statement saying that $25m (£15.8m) that had been earmarked to pay the sanctioning fee to Ecclestone would not be paid until after the first race.

And Circuit of Americas (Cota) bosses responded by saying they had not been sent a contract.

Ecclestone, who was talking to the Press Association, said no contract had been issued because he had yet to receive a guarantee or letter of credit that he would be paid.

"We've done everything we can to make this race happen," he said.

Ecclestone said on Wednesday that he had cancelled the contract of the original promoter of the event, Tavo Hellmund and his Full Throttle Promotions Company.

That has left him negotiating directly with the track developers.

"We had an agreement with Full Throttle Productions," Ecclestone explained.

"Everything was signed and sealed, but we kept putting things off like the dates, various letters of credit and things that should have been sent, but nothing ever happened.

"Then these other people (Cota) came on the scene, saying that they wanted to do things, but that they had problems with Tavo.

"They said they had the circuit, and that they wanted an agreement with me. I told them they had to sort out the contract with Tavo, which they said they would.

"But that has gone away now because we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he was in breach.

"We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why we've cancelled. He's happy.

"But these other people haven't got a contract. All we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

"We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is via a letter of credit, normally from a bank.

"If people don't have the money they find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract."

In her statement, the Texas state comptroller explained that the announcement of a second US race, scheduled to be held in New Jersey for the first time in 2013, made it less appealing to the state to fund the Austin event through its Major Events Fund.

That was because it was likely to have an effect on the number of visitors to the Austin race, and therefore reduce the economic benefits for the state.

Representatives of the Circuit of the Americas declined to comment.