Motor racing-Ecclestone hopes for Nuerburgring deal this week

LONDON Tue Jan 8, 2013 3:19pm GMT

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LONDON Jan 8 (Reuters) - The Nuerburgring is set to host this year's German Grand Prix and a deal could be agreed this week after further talks, Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday.

The 82-year-old also told Reuters that the calendar, approved by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) last November, would have 19 races rather than the 20 slots available.

The calendar has the German race listed for July 7 at a circuit to be confirmed and another unnamed European round pencilled in for July 21 and intended for Turkey before talks stalled over money.

The Nuerburgring and Hockenheim have alternated as venues for the German Grand Prix in recent years, with the former due to host this year's round.

However the circuit's financial problems have led to uncertainty.

"It should be the Nuerburgring and we are trying to make it happen," said Ecclestone in a telephone conversation. "I'm talking with them today."

The billionaire, who has expanded the calendar to new destinations far from the sport's European heartland, played down suggestions Hockenheim could step in.

Circuit owners Nuerburgring GmbH, who are 90 percent owned by the German regional state of Rhineland-Palatinate, has run into financial trouble amid a dispute with track operator NAG over leasing fees.

The state authorities are under pressure to make the track pay after pouring millions of euros into a racing-themed amusement park there.

The circuit is due to be put up for auction later this year but Nuerburgring managing director Thomas Schmidt, who runs the company with an insolvency administrator, told Reuters in November that they had agreed with NAG to plan for 2013 regardless of the dispute.

The race is a home one for Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who has yet to win a grand prix on German soil, as well as for car maker Mercedes who now have Britain's 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton partnering Germany's Nico Rosberg in their works team. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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