Saturday, June 16, 2007
Updated: June 18, 1:37 PM ET
Indy Speedway CEO meets with Ecclestone, optimistic about Grand Prix future
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George
and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone met again Saturday without
reaching an agreement to extend the contract of the U.S. Grand Prix
After a 25-minute session inside Ecclestone's trackside office,
George emerged optimistic about a deal -- just not this weekend.
Speedway officials hope to have one by July 12.
"I'm confident it's going to happen, but it's not done yet,"
When was asked whether that meant there was an agreement in
principle, George responded: "No, I think we agree on all the
things that have to come together."
Ecclestone has repeatedly said F1 does not need to race in the
United States and has mentioned the possibility of moving the U.S.
Grand Prix to another city, such as New York or Las Vegas.
On Saturday, Ecclestone tried another ploy to gain leverage. He
told a local television station he doesn't have to listen to the
manufacturers who want to race in the U.S. nor does he believe the
Indianapolis race has been promoted properly since Indianapolis 500
signs are still displayed around the city. The 500 was run May 28.
George acknowledged race officials could do more but stopped
short of taking the blame or saying Ecclestone was posturing.
"We don't control all the factors that go into the public
perception of this event," George said. "I think everyone knows
the challenges we have faced since it's been here."
In 2002, Michael Schumacher let teammate Rubens Barrichello win.
Most considered that payback for a race earlier in the year when
Barrichello was told to park his car on the course and let
Schumacher go past.
Just before the start of the race in 2005, safety concerns with
Michelin tires prompted 14 of 20 drivers to pull off the road
Still, the U.S. Grand Prix has consistently been one of the
biggest draws on F1 circuit since it arrived in Indianapolis in
2000, consistently attracting crowds of about 125,000.
"We have to do the right thing for us," George said. "The
right thing might be a decision not to go on, but that's not what
either of our preferences are."