Bernie Ecclestone vague over 2014 F1 calendar but not ruling out New Jersey
F1 supremo claims he didn't release draft schedule to teams
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/09/13 10:35am
A draft schedule for next season was circulated amongst the Monza paddock among the teams and the media on Thursday and although 21 races featured on the schedule - an increase of two compared to this season - the proposed Grand Prix of America wasn't among them, with a return to Mexico instead listed.
In his role as F1's commercial chief, Ecclestone organises the yearly calendar before presenting it to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for ratification. However, speaking in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle at Monza on Friday, the 82-year-old insisted he hadn't released the draft version.
"I didn't know about it. Where is that?" Ecclestone told Martin when asked about the leaked calendar.
"It wasn't us."
Asked if the draft 21-race list should therefore be considered speculative, Ecclestone added further uncertainty into the mix by replying: "We have 22 actually now".
Put to him that it was understood that the teams had agreed with him to limit calendars to no more than 20 events, Ecclestone added: "Yep. We'll have to talk about it, won't we?"
Although it appears unlikely that the 2014 calendar would ultimately end up as large as 22 races given the teams' reluctance to go beyond the record-breaking mark of 20 set last year, there could still be a number of venues competing for available places given Ecclestone has refused to rule New Jersey out of making the final cut.
Uncertainty over the proposed street race around Port Imperial, which would have the Manhattan skyline serving as a dramatic backdrop, has rumbled on almost since the day the event was first announced in October 2011 but Ecclestone is still hoping it will still happen next year.
"We have a contract with New Jersey and I hope they can honour the contract," he suggested.
Speaking in Friday's team bosses' press conference, McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh admitted the sport as a whole would relish the chance of racing in New Jersey - but made clear the final decisions rested with Ecclestone.
"New Jersey would of course be fantastic in my opinion, it would be great for this sport," Whitmarsh said.
"If you then say 'well who would you lose?', we've all got our own personal favourites and our personal least favourites, but it would be very disrespectful to use this platform to voice our personal opinions.
"Bernie's just got to work hard to make we've got a good calendar and he generally succeeds one way and another and I suspect he will next year."
Whitmarsh's Ferrari counterpart Stefano Domenicali, meanwhile, suggested that there was likely to still be more room for manoeuvre before the definitive 2014 calendar was published.
"There will be a discussion at the World Motor Sport Council at the end of September so I would wait for that date to see exactly what will be the situation," the Italian stressed.
"Things may change quickly, so let's wait and see."
Martin Brundle's interview with Bernie Ecclestone can be seen in full in Sky F1's Qualifying Show on Saturday from 12pm