'F1 in Europe finished' - Bernie

2011-11-30 07:49

MADRID, Spain - Western Europe "is "finished" as a top F1 racing destination and will soon host only five Grands Prix races, the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned.

A typical bit of Bernie brashness to create F1 hype now the season is over - or does he mean it. You decide... but here's what he is claiming and it includes South Africa.

"In the next few years Europe will be left with only five races," Ecclestone was quoted as saying in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca. "Europe is finished. It will be a good place for tourism but little else. Europe is a thing of the past."


He didn't name which races in Europe he thought would survive but wanted to keep the total number in a season at 20 while expanding to Russia and considering new locations such as South Africa and Mexico.

"Russia for sure, we have a contract there for a race in Sochi," Ecclestone said. "Maybe South Africa, Mexico," he added.


The 2012 F1 calendar has eight European dates including five classics - Monaco, Britain, Belgium, Italy and Germany. The other European dates are in Budapest, Barcelona and Valencia. France, the historic cradle of motor racing, has not run a GP since 2008.

Questioned about Europe's status as the spiritual home of Grands Prix, the sport's top executive responded: "It used to be."

He said he was "very happy, like everyone" about the success of the Korean GP since its launch in 2010 at the Yeongam track, which joined the ranks of other popular Asian circuits such as Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

"We never thought we would have Korea on the calendar," Ecclestone said.


Earlier in November (2011) Ecclestone said the first US GP, pencilled in for November 2012 in Austin, Texas, was likely to be called off when the International Automobile Federation meets on December 7.

"I think they have internal organisation problems," he told Marca, without elaborating, but the organisers have said they are still keen to host the Austin race, even if it is delayed by a year.

Ecclestone has scheduled another American GP, this one in in New Jersey in 2013.

Australian driver Mark Webber won the 2011 Brazilian GP in Sao Paulo on November 27, the last race of a season that saw his Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel earn a second World Drivers' title.