September 28, 2016

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) Organizers of the Brazilian Grand Prix say they are surprised that the event has not been confirmed on next year's Formula One calendar despite a contract being in place.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, released the provisional calendar for 2017 on Wednesday, including an asterisk next to Brazil's assigned Nov. 12 date, indicating "subject to confirmation.''

F1's commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone has been pushing for speedier and better redevelopment of the aging Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, and in June he said: ''The chances are that it won't happen next year''.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, race organizers said they were ''surprised'' by its provisional status on the 2017 calendar.

''There is a contract in place until 2020, every provision of which will be complied with as it has been for the past 45 years,'' the statement said.

Brazil will stage the penultimate race of this season on Nov. 13.

Williams driver Felipe Massa, the most senior current Brazilian driver in F1, said the asterisk could be a negotiating tactic to apply pressure to race organizers, but also feared this could be the last year that Interlagos hosts the race.

''Maybe this is just some pressure but maybe it could happen,'' Massa said in Malaysia on Thursday, ahead of this weekend's grand prix. ''We saw it happen last year in Germany.

''It's one of the most fun and great races to watch, so I hope the best for them, for my country.''

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