FEBRUARY 12, 2016
Andretti hopes 21-race F1 calendar here to stay
F1 legend Mario Andretti has his fingers crossed that the US grand prix in Austin goes ahead as planned.
The October race has been given only provisional status on the 2016 calendar, amid a funding dispute between race organisers and the Texan government.
"After all the investment to make this very attractive facility, we need this grand prix," Andretti, the 1978 world champion and a naturalised American, said.
"Interest in the US is growing, especially now that there is an American team, but I think F1 needs the US in equal measure," he told the Spanish daily El Pais.
"When you look at each team's sponsors, you see that all of them are global and most would have business there (in the US)," Andretti added.
Another cloud is hanging over the historic Italian grand prix at Monza, as La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the latest meeting between Bernie Ecclestone and race chiefs Angelo Sticchi Damiani and Ivan Capelli in London did not go well.
A further meeting is reportedly now scheduled for the end of February.
Some in the pitlane would heave a sigh of relief if the bursting 21-race calendar is reduced in size, but 75-year-old Andretti thinks more races is a good thing.
"It is an extra burden for the teams," he said, "but they have to appreciate that it is all more exposure for the brands.
"It is wonderful for F1 because it means demand is incredible, the drivers are willing to do more races so I think it's not a bad thing at all."