BARCELONA May 12 Spain's two Formula One races
in Barcelona and Valencia will alternate from next year while a
return to France is looking less likely, Formula One supremo
Bernie Ecclestone said on Saturday.
"The (Spanish) race will be here in 2013 and 2014 in
Valencia," the Briton told Reuters at Barcelona's Circuit de
Catalunya ahead of Sunday's first European race of the year.
The 81-year-old also expected Canada's Montreal race to
agree a 10-year contract renewal from 2014 despite demands that
the circuit be upgraded.
The world economic crisis has hit Spain hard, where local
administrations are under pressure to make deep budget cuts as
part of a central government austerity drive.
The eastern city of Valencia, on the brink of being bailed
out by the central government due to debt problems, currently
hosts the European Grand Prix in June while Barcelona has the
Spanish Grand Prix.
Spain, home of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, is the only
country with two races a year. Germany's two, at Hockenheim and
Nurburgring, already alternate.
A New Jersey race scheduled for 2013 will give the United
States two rounds after the debut of a new circuit in Austin,
Texas, this year.
France, which lasted hosted a race in 2008, is hoping for
its race to be reinstated on the calendar next year at the
southern Le Castellet circuit.
Although financial terms have been agreed, the change of
French president with Socialist Francois Hollande beating
conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in this month's election, has cast
doubt on any deal going ahead.
The previous French Grand Prix circuit at Magny-Cours was in
an area of rural France where jobs are scarce, leading to
speculation that would again become the favoured venue for
Ecclestone's family trust owns Le Castellet and the
81-year-old has been firmly opposed to any return to
Magny-Cours, a track with little appeal for sponsors and VIPs.
Ecclestone told Reuters nothing had been signed and another
senior Formula One source said the chances of a deal appeared to
"I have no idea. No idea what they are doing. It's a funny
arrangement they were making anyway. So I just don't know,"
Ecclestone said when asked whether the French political shift
made any difference.
Ecclestone also said he had asked the Canadian Grand Prix
organisers to upgrade the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as a
condition for any contract extension.
"They are going to try and rebuild," he said. "It needs a
bit of an upgrade I think. They know what we want to do."
He said the talks were for a 10-year renewal of a contract
that expires in 2014 and was confident that would happen despite
previous hiccups that saw the hugely popular race taken off the
calendar in 2009.
"It will happen. We love Montreal," he said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)