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US GP not vital to F1 - Ecclestone

Linked from http://www.motoring.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3884137&fSectionId=&fSetId=381

London, England - Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has told US Grand Prix organisers he could take the race elsewhere if he can't agree a new deal with Indianapolis.

He told Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "It is not vital to F1 to be in the United States.

"There are bigger markets for us in other parts of the world. We could be in India soon instead of the United States.

We don't have a lot of sponsors from the US, no American teams and only one driver," he added.

"I get along with Indianapolis owner Tony George and I hope we can strike a deal, but we have offers from other places in the US too

2007 is the last year of Indianapolis' contract for the F1 race it has hosted since 2000. Ecclestone has talked in the past of taking F1 to street circuits in Las Vegas or New York.

However, he also faces a squeeze on the calendar, with Valencia and Singapore confirmed as new races for 2008 while Abu Dhabi is due to make its debut in 2009 and South Korea in 2010.

India is also lobbying hard for a race and Suzuka is looking to return to the championship as a second Japanese race after being replaced by Fuji.

Ecclestone's comments were similar to ones he made in 2006 before agreeing a one-year extension with Indianapolis, although the United States is a key market for the car manufacturers who dominate the sport and own most of the teams.

Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug said: "The automobile market in the USA is the biggest one for Mercedes-Benz outside Germany

Mercedes-Benz owns 40 percent of championship leader McLaren.

BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen agreed: "The US Grand Prix is of key importance for the BMW Group in so far as the United States is our biggest market.

"We sell more cars there than in Germany and also have our biggest production sites outside Germany." - Reuters
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