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New Jersey, Mexico and South Korea off 2014 calendar

Formula One drivers pose for a group picture ahead of the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 24, 2013.
Formula One drivers pose for a group picture ahead of the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 24, 2013.

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Races in New Jersey, Mexico and South Korea were dropped from Formula One's official 2014 calendar on Wednesday, with the season remaining at 19 races instead of a record 22.

All three grands prix had been listed provisionally, with asterisks against them, on a previous calendar published in September by the sport's governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).

None appeared however on the final version issued on Wednesday after a meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sports Council in Paris.

New Jersey's Grand Prix of the America, with New York's skyscraper skyline as a backdrop, had been due for a debut this year but that had to be postponed due to financial issues which continue to plague the race.

Organizers said they were working on "restructured financial arrangements" while the sport's hard-nosed commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he looked forward to "first-class inaugural Grand Prix of America in 2015".

"There is great demand for a race in New Jersey and I have no doubt we'll be racing at Port Imperial in 2015," Ecclestone said in a joint statement with Grand Prix of America.

"New races can take many years to get started, but there is significant momentum and we are close to realizing a New York City F1 race."

Mexico would have been making its return in November after a 22-year absence but there have been doubts over the readiness of the Mexico City track.

The poorly-attended Korean race, one of the least popular among Formula One's travelling fraternity, has sustained heavy losses.

Organizers, whose race at Yeongam in the far south was due to be moved from October to April, had sought a contract re-negotiation with Ecclestone.

India has also been axed from the 2014 calendar, although race promoters are hoping to return in 2015, while Austria is back after a decade away and Russia hosts a race for the first time in next year's Winter Olympic city of Sochi.

The revised calendar led to a reshuffling of some date and teams will be particularly relieved not to have the logistical headache of a 'triple header' of Monaco, New Jersey and Canada to contend with on successive weekends in May and June.

The cancellation of Mexico, which would have been the penultimate race, sees Brazil's Interlagos and Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina swap places with the Middle East circuit now due to end the season on November 23.

The absence of New Jersey, while expected, will be the biggest blow for a sport still battling for more than a niche profile in the United States, a major market for carmakers like Mercedes and Ferrari.

Most teams were reluctant to extend the season beyond 20 races, fearful for the impact of the increased burden on staff like engineers and mechanics as well as higher costs if more people had to be hired to cope.

The United States already has one popular grand prix in Austin, Texas.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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