Next year’s Brazilian and German GPs could be dropped from the definitive 2017 F1 calendar when it is finalized at the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Vienna at the end of this month.
Both races were listed as “subject to confirmation” when the provisional schedule was issued after the last WMSC meeting in September. Bernie Ecclestone has now said that they are “absolutely” still at risk of being dropped from what could potentially become a 19-race 2017 schedule, due to obvious financial reasons.
On Wednesday, Ecclestone visited Brasilia to meet the country’s new President Michel Temer, who took office at the end of August. Although Bernie conceded that he wanted to gauge support for the Grand Prix, he denied that he specifically asked for central government funding.
“I didn’t ask him,” he said. “I just wanted to meet him and see how he felt, about things in general. Did he think that F1 was good for Brazil, or not? It’s probably been good for Sao Paulo. Whether it’s been good for the rest of Brazil, who knows? I’ve no idea what he can do as the president. This country is very political at the moment. He’s just stepped in.
“They spent a lot of money to have the Olympics and the World Cup, and here [Sao Paulo] hurts a little bit, the promoter trying to run this race, and make a profit, or not make a profit, but not lose. So in the end the people who lose are us, because they can’t pay us.”
Although the Interlagos paddock facilities have been upgraded this year, Ecclestone indicated that he was still not happy: “It should have been built four years ago – our contract with them was it should have been built then.”
Asked if he would place a bet on Brazil happening next year, he said: “I wouldn’t put my money on it, I might put yours.”
Ecclestone made it clear that the German GP, which returned to the calendar this year after being absent in 2016, is even more shaky.
“Germany? I don’t know how we could ever save that race. It’s commercial. What is incredible is that we’ve had all the German World Champions, they [Mercedes] have won the constructors’ championship, and will win the drivers’ championship for sure, and there’s no interest in Germany.
“There’s nobody at the Nurburgring – the current owners, when they bought, they had no idea what was going on. When they found out, they didn’t like what they heard. I met them, they’re Russian people. So that went. And then Hockenheim’s always been the same, it’s never really been supported, when it should have been.”
Ecclestone said that Hockenheim was open to a 2017 deal, but not at the price he wanted.
“They’re saying, or I think they’re saying, ‘We’d be prepared to continue with the same terms and conditions that we’ve had for the last two or three years.’ Which are no good for us. We tried to keep them alive, but they’ve run out of tablets. I’ll put my money on it not happening. I’ll have to talk to them in the next couple of weeks.”
Asked if the next WMSC meeting was in effect the final deadline for Germany and Brazil he said: “Yes, absolutely.”
Ecclestone also said that the Canadian GP event, which was also listed as subject to confirmation, is safe: “I think we’re sorting out Canada, which has been a bit of a pain.”
Meanwhile, he suggested that he would be able to find alternative races for 2018.
“There are people we can resurrect, and people who’ve been talking about it and we haven’t been able to do anything. Probably not for next year, but the year after, for sure.”