Mar.15 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down the controversy over the future of Australia's Grand Prix by daring organisers to walk away from the sport.
"When the contract comes up, they don't have to renew," the F1 chief executive, speaking from London, told local Fairfax Radio ahead of the 2012 Melbourne race.
"That is the nice thing. We are not going to force anyone into doing anything because we can't."
The current contract expires in 2015, and Ecclestone has offered to ease the taxpayers' burden if race organisers agree to host the race at night, to better service Europe's live television audience.
But the 81-year-old Briton is also furious, after a federal politician for the ruling Labor Party scorned the millions paid to Ecclestone in order to bankroll the billionaire's flamboyant "bogan" daughter Tamara.
"Who was the halfwit that said these things?" Ecclestone told 3AW radio.
"You're not a communist state there, are you? Any money that my children have got, they didn't steal.
"I'd like him to say what he said to me face to face."
Who was the halfwit that said these things?
The latest spat is yet another threat to the highly popular Albert Park race, with Ecclestone surmising: "From all the things I read that the government say, I don't think that they want to continue."
Australian driver Mark Webber hopes the race has a future.
"I don't think it's a gain to lose it, put it that way," he said.
"It was successful in Adelaide and in Melbourne as well and it would be brilliant to keep it here for a long time yet."