Bernie Ecclestone says talk of Austrian GP filling 20th 2013 slot is news to him

F1 supremo insists sport would cope with 19 races just fine

By James Galloway.   Last Updated: 21/03/14 11:36am

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Bernie Ecclestone: Says only 19 races now look likely for 2013

Bernie Ecclestone: Says only 19 races now look likely for 2013

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Bernie Ecclestone says he has not been approached by Red Bull about adding a revised Austrian GP on the 2013 calendar and that Turkey remains the only prospective venue to fill the mystery 20th slot.

With the inaugural New Jersey grand prix having previously been put back 12 months to 2014, the FIA revealed last week that an unnamed European event had been pencilled in to take its place on next season's schedule, with the German GP moved forward by a week to the start of July to accommodate what would be the 20th event.

Although this was initially expected to be the return of the Turkish GP at Istanbul Park, those hopes appeared to take a blow when the country's sports minister denied the government was set to provide funds to stage the race.

An alternative solution, however, appeared when Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told the Austrian press that the energy drinks company had offered their own circuit, the former A1 Ring, to the FIA to take the 20th event.

However, speaking to the local media himself on Wednesday, Ecclestone claimed talk of a return to Austria had come as news to him.

"I have as of today spoken to no one about it," he told Kleine Zeitung.

"At the moment I'm thinking more on Turkey and a return to Istanbul."

The F1 supremo added that the hotel situation in surrounding Spielberg remained a "disaster" since the sport's last visit there in 2003.

In any case, Ecclestone suggested that as things stood 19 races was looking more likely anyway.

"Right now I'm thinking that next year we will go with only 19 races. That wouldn't be a big problem for Formula 1," he said.

The 82-year-old added that he expected a final decision on whether or not a 20th race would be held "by the beginning of next week".

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