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US Grand Prix included in F1 calendar for 2012

Updated: December 07, 2011, 07:18


PARIS(AP) The U.S. Grand Prix has been included on the 2012 Formula One calendar, despite fears it could be cut for financial reasons.

The governing body of the sport said Wednesday on its website that the 2012 "calendar was confirmed as previously published.'' The unchanged F1 calendar was approved at a World Motor Sport Council meeting in New Delhi, India.

The FIA's ratification of the 20 races also means that the Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled as the fourth race of the season on April 22.

The 2011 race in Bahrain was supposed to be the season opener in March but was called off amid violent anti-government protests. FIA wanted to reschedule the race for later this year but that proved impossible.

Last week, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone gave U.S. GP organizers an extra week to save the Texas race by proving they have the right finances in place.

Financial backers of the race in Austin, Texas, include billionaire businessman Red McCombs. The race is scheduled for Nov. 18 and marks F1's return to the United States for the first time since 2007.

The Circuit of the Americas officials had pledged to pay F1's sanctioning fee but a dispute over signing a final contract and the long-term financing had not yet been resolved, prompting Ecclestone to extend the deadline.

The initial dispute was caused by F1's decision to scrap a previous contract it had with Tavo Hellmund, a former race driver with long family ties to Ecclestone who was originally granted the right to stage the U.S. Grand Prix.

The deal with Hellmund was recently canceled over a contract breach, and F1 officials instead began negotiating with Circuit of the Americas.

F1's presence in the U.S will increase even more in 2013. A 10-year deal will put the race along the Hudson River waterfront in New Jersey, providing views of the Manhattan skyline.

The 2011 championship, which was won by Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, finished Sunday in Brazil.

Vettel will start his bid for a third straight F1 title at the Australian Grand Prix in March. The season again ends in Brazil.

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