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US GP promoter risks ‘penalties’ for race failure

Organisers of a United States grand prix risk penalties if the race does not go ahead in 2012.

That is the warning of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who more than a month ago announced a 10-year contract for a race in Austin, Texas.

The contract, with promoter Tavo Hellmund’s company, involves the construction of a purpose-built circuit.

But given a lack of details so far, and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s failure to make the US GP a success, some pundits are sceptical about Austin’s bid.

For example, the source of the bulk of the funding is a mystery, with Ecclestone revealing only to the Austin daily American-Statesman that the backers are from the US.

It has also been suggested that 2012 is an overly optimistic race debut date, but Briton Ecclestone insists it will take place then.

“That’s what the contract says,” he said.  “It might turn out to be expensive for Tavo.  We’ve got some penalty clauses, although I wouldn’t want to use them.”

Ecclestone said he is confident Hellmund’s project will succeed.

“Until he doesn’t (succeed), we won’t know,” said the 79-year-old.  “You might say I couldn’t run the 100 metres in seven seconds, but until I try, you don’t know.”