Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone insists there are no grounds for the BBC to drop its live coverage of the sport next year, despite efforts by the British network to cut its costs.
BBC Sport's spending is set to be slashed by £35 million as part of a widespread budget reduction of £150 million across the network as the result of falling revenues.
It is understood that the BBC hoped some of the savings could be made by it relinquishing its F1 rights – potentially by dropping the live race-share deal that it has with Sky.
But Ecclestone made clear after speaking to BBC executives in London that he expected the current contract, which runs for another three years, to remain intact.
“We had a chat with them today,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying by the Telegraph. “What they would like to do is not spend as much money. They want to know if they can schedule it different ways or pay a bit less now.
“They don't have a lot of choice because they've got a contract with us. They're there for another three years.”
Even if Ecclestone stands firm and keeps the BBC showing some lives race under the terms of the current contract, he may face a tougher time sorting out a new deal longer term.
Speaking about the potential for a new contract after 2018, Ecclestone said: “Beyond then, I've no idea. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow morning.
"I can't tell you what I'm going to do in two years’ time. Definitely, we want them to carry on. Of course.”