Mike Stevens | Jul 2, 2010

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.

Among a number of issues, the source of the bulk of the funding remains 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."

(GMM)

 

F-duct A Factor In Webber's Crash: Report

According to reports out of Europe, Red Bull's first race with the F-duct concept in Valencia could have contributed to Mark Webber's huge crash.

In-car footage of the moments before the Australian struck the rear of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus show him activating the downforce-stalling device.

Unlike McLaren's pioneering system which is triggered by the drivers' knee, the Red Bull F-duct - debuted in qualifying and the race in Valencia - works by Webber and Sebastian Vettel blocking a hole with the four fingers of their left hand.

The footage showed Webber's four fingers off the steering wheel on the straight, with his thumb still loosely in the steering wheel hole.

Immediately before he struck the Lotus, Webber put his left fingers back on the wheel in a failed attempt to dodge Kovalainen.

When hand-activated F-ducts appeared on the Sauber and Ferrari cars last month, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said "drivers driving with fingertips and no hands ... is a safety issue".

But Italy's Autosprint reports that Red Bull's hand-operated F-duct could have been a factor in Webber's crash last weekend.

Vettel admitted in Valencia that he was not a fan of the hand-operated system.

"It was a very smart idea, it's a big benefit if you manage to set it up right but obviously you don't have your hands on the steering wheel all the time.

"I was managing to drink, I used the right hand side to press a button on the left. It also depends on how many adjustments you make per lap, brake balance and so on.

"You get used to it but it's not the most comfortable thing," said the German.

(GMM)

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