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Sports News

No U.S. Grand Prix in 2008, says Ecclestone

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One will not return to the United States next year, the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said on Thursday.

McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (L) of Britain celebrates winning the United States F1 Grand Prix in Indianapolis, June 17, 2007. Formula One will not return to the United States next year, the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said on Thursday. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

“We didn’t reach an agreement... Let’s see if we miss America,” Ecclestone told Reuters, adding that no other U.S. venue was lined up to replace Indianapolis on the 2008 calendar.

Indianapolis, who had set a July 12 deadline, said in a separate statement that the two sides had failed to do a deal to continue after eight grands prix at the Brickyard.

“After several discussions, Bernie Ecclestone and I were unable to agree how to keep Formula One in Indianapolis for the near term,” said IMS chief executive Tony George in a statement.

“However, we have agreed to leave the door open for a potential future date.

“It has been a pleasure having the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, and I hope that as we approach our Centennial Era at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, an opportunity might present itself that would allow its return,” he added.

SIX-CAR FIASCO

Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500, may however be remembered more in Formula One circles for the disastrous six-car fiasco of 2005 when all the Michelin-shod teams withdrew for safety reasons.

Ecclestone said he was still talking to Las Vegas about the possibility of returning to the desert casino city for a street circuit race but he said nothing could be arranged for next season.

The decision leaves the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal as the only North American race on the 2008 calendar, with Singapore and the Spanish city of Valencia scheduled to make their debuts next year.

The French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours is also in danger of being axed for financial reasons but Abu Dhabi and South Korea have been penciled in for 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The U.S. Grand Prix had been a North American doubleheader alongside Montreal, with the major car manufacturers that dominate Formula One eager to retain a presence in a key market.

“We most definitely should have a race here and if you ask me, maybe two or even more in the United States,” said Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug after this year’s race at Indianapolis last month.

“For a world championship it is important to be here.”

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