The Austrian Grand Prix will disappear next year as F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone prepares to stage races in China and Bahrain.

The Austrian Grand Prix will disappear next year as F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone prepares to stage races in China and Bahrain.

It has only been six years since the event, which is held the A1-Ring outside Spielberg, returned to the F1 circuit. The A1-Ring is a development of the legendary high-speed Osterreichring, which staged the race in the late eighties.

This week, Ecclestone told one of Austria's biggest newspapers that the country will lose its place on the grand prix calendar next year due to its government bringing forward a ban on tobacco advertising.

The A1-Ring holds a contract to host an F1 event until 2006, but Ecclestone told : "We'll be racing for the last time in Spielberg on May 18 this year - then it's over. Of course, we had a contract with Spielberg until 2006, but with an exit clause that's now come into effect. Your (Austria's) health minister is the one to blame because he agreed to bring forward the ban on tobacco advertising."

As CARtoday.com reported last year, Spa-Francorchamps lost its race due to the laws restricting tobacco advertising as well, leaving just 16 events on the 2003 calendar. However, there is no shortage of venues for next season with Bahrain and China set to join the fun, followed by Istanbul in 2005.

"In 2004, we're racing in Shanghai and Bahrain, 2005 in Istanbul, then in Russia. It's possible that we will then only have five or six races in central Europe," Ecclestone added.

When asked whether Austria would be one of those venues, Ecclestone replied: "The decision is final."

Original article from Car