F1 to axe Australia for Russian GP

Sun, 10 February 2008, 03:03

Bernie Ecclestone is determined to scratch Australia from the F1 calendar so as to make room for a Russian grand prix in the near future, according to reports.

After Melbourne GP chiefs ruled out bowing to the F1 chief executive’s demands for a night race beyond 2010, the British tabloid Daily Mirror claims that 77-year-old Ecclestone will now travel to St Petersburg to discuss holding a race in the Russian city in 2010.

The newspaper said the British billionaire will meet with St Petersburg’s governor next weekend, and possibly also president Vladimir Putin, for talks about the building of a bespoke circuit.

“Nothing is done yet,” Ecclestone said, “but this could be an interesting development for the sport.

“We’d like to get it in the calendar as soon as we can but that depends on them.

“It’s down to how long it takes them to get the circuit ready.”

Ecclestone’s comments coincide with new reports in Australia that say Ecclestone has made it clear that there is “no chance” that Melbourne will feature on the calendar beyond the expiry of its contract in 2010.

Sensing that the tough stance against a night race cost Melbourne its race might have compelled Dato Mokhzani Mahathir to declare that Malaysia is open about the prospects of erecting floodlights at the Sepang circuit.

To the Bangkok Post, he denied that Ecclestone threatened to exclude Malaysia from F1 if the promoters did not agree to staging a night race.

“No, it was never an ultimatum from Bernie where either we do a night race or get the contract cancelled,” Dato Mokhzani Mahathir said.

“Our current contract is up to 2010 and then last year when we were negotiating for an extension a clause was put in to the contract (to 2015) saying that we need to be ready to host the race at night.”

He added that all the details have not yet been decided but “definitely we hope to have a night race by next year”.

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