F1 Winter Break
Texas finance chief confirms New Jersey race threatens Austin event
Texas finance chief confirms New Jersey race threatens Austin event
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2011   |  9:10 pm GMT  |  120 comments

There is a lot going on behind the scenes in Austin, Texas at the moment with threats from all sides that the 2012 Grand Prix might not take place.

And this afternoon Susan Combs, who controls the finances for the State of Texas, has confirmed that the recent announcement of a rival race in New Jersey for 2013 is a “concern” and said that the first $25 million the state had earmarked for the project will no longer be available before the first event has taken place.

This is significant, because the deal agreed with Combs was that she would disburse $25 million a year for 10 years, of money raised from taxes on hotels, drinks and restaurants from out of town visitors to the event. Today she said that the first tranche of this money will be payable only after the first event has taken place, if indeed it does.

“When the United States Grand Prix was formally announced, it was the only Formula 1 race scheduled in the U.S. During the past 18 months, organizers have taken many steps to bring high-profile motor racing to Central Texas, including the development of the Circuit of the Americas, and the announcement of the global MotoGP and V8 Supercar race series starting in 2013, ” said Combs’ statement.

“The recent announcement of an annual Formula 1 race in New Jersey is a concern, as additional races have the potential to reduce the number of attendees to a Texas race, thereby decreasing the economic impact. Additionally, the reports of a slowdown in construction at the Circuit of the Americas, and recently publicized disagreements between the race rights-holder and the circuit developers have prompted speculation about whether the Austin race will even occur.”

Only a year from its inaugural race, the project is caught up in a dispute between Tavo Hellmund, the promoter who holds the original contract for the race and a group called Circuit of the Americas, which is building the venue outside Austin. Hellmund is stepping back out of the project and there seem to be problems agreeing the terms of that. In turn, CoA want a direct contract with Ecclestone.

Bernie Ecclestone spoke about this a few times over the weekend, saying that he is waiting for the Circuit of the Americas people to send him back the contract and that the ball is in their court. It is not clear whether the terms and fees due are the same or higher than those in the original deal.

Ecclestone says that the first payment of the sanctioning fee for the race is already due and that if things do not progress, he will call the race off in December, presumably via the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting.

Today the CoA group confirmed that construction work had been halted at the site pending resolution of the contract dispute. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to hit the circuit delivery deadline if the dispute is resolved.

Eccleston responded by saying that the deadline for the race taking place in 2012 had passed and it would not be able to take place until 2013.

Ecclestone and Hellmund have been friends for many years and after Combs confirmed recently that the State’s $25 million would be paid regardless of who managed the race, Hellmund’s position was weakened. It could be that this is a tactic to improve his exit position or it could be more serious than that.

Either way the State government is keen to be seen to be ultra careful with Texas tax payers’ money and the intervention of Combs today adds a further blow to the project.

Local observers on the website of the Austin Statesman newspaper question whether it was ever the sport’s intention to race in Austin and that it was a tactic to get the prize they really wanted, which was the New Jersey race with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.

The JA on F1 2011 limited edition collectors’ review of the year “Vettel steals the show” is now ready to pre-order. A large format 240 page paperback, it comes out on December 12th, costs £9-99 plus postage and can be sent anywhere in the world. All copies bought through this site are personally signed by James Allen.

To order your copy, click HERE

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Assuming that in the beginning, track owners actually *got* money from F1 for using their tarmac, instead of paying for it, does anyone know when this changed to the present situation?


Bernie just confirmed race will be off 100% according to a quote.

Take with grain of salt, but seems like pressure is on and money is not there.


You have to agree with the last paragraph. As good as the Circuit of Americas look how could it possibly compete with the New Jersey GP in terms of foreign visitors with the exception of nearby Mexicans? The fact that the New Jersey GP is called the GP of the Americas just adds to the impression that Austin is now dispensable.

Surely any future race promoter or new circuit will be very careful with their dealings with Bernie Ecclestone from now on....


Miss Coombs need to rethink this one, I was all set to fly from Australia for this event, Austin and Texas are a fabulous location, New Jersey holds about as much appeal as going to the Dentist for Root canal.


It might have been a better RACE track. Street circuits are generally dull in terms of on track action and that most certainly includes Monaco. I would visit Belgium over Monaco any day of the week (and have) and, if it was a better track, I would equally visit Texas over New Jersey.

F1 is becomming all style over substance. I persoanlly don't give a hoot that Yas has a fabulous hotel - I do however give several hoots that the circuit has been deliberately compromised to fit alongside and beneath the 'shiny shiny'. I would have the same opinion about the Manhatten sky-line...


Growing up in NJ and having spent much time on the waterfront (marina) I can say that anyone who attends will be blown away by this venue. The elevation changes and views are amazing. The nightlife, choices of entertainment and rooming is unparalleled. The back to back weekends of Montreal and NYC will make North America the place to go for F1!


agree entirely and related to that I'm not bothered either if a racing driver can or can't talk up the marketting strategies of the promoter. That almost seems the top priority for some.

Can I make so bold as to ask James if he met Paul McCartney last weekend?


Sadly not. Wish I had


Welcome to 30 years ago! Bernie has been wheeler dealing like this since day 1. It's modus operandi for him.


F1 must adjust it's motivations somewhat to take into account the 'people' that it touches rather than just the dollars that it sucks in.

The people working on the Texus track have mortgages and bills, they will have been planning their lives based around a steady income from developing and/or working at the track. Small business will have developed business plans based on this event.

Imagine being told 6 weeks before Christmas to stop work and having your job security called into question so that F1 Global Megacorp can explpoit you as a cheap negociating tactic to get yet more money while continuing to operate from palatial motohomes, speninging $60K dollars on steering wheels, $20K on minor winglets and slapping itself on the back for buying two tenths for $2M.

I keep hearing about how the teams want 'more' of this and that and how CVC want to keep it all, what they should all really be asking is how can we 'do more' to positively affect the world that feeds us. They could start by operating ethical, sustainable and consciencous business practices rather than sepping into countries, bleeding them dry for a couple of years and then moving onto the next feeding ground to gorge itself.


All good points, Bec, but countries and consortiums always talk up the positive economic impact of hosting a GP - they'd be crazy not to.

Before the race takes place the projected benefits are exaggerated to ensure that someone's pet project goes through and during the period where the races are being held it is exaggerated because someone has to justify the decision they took and make them selves and their government/consortium look savvy.

If it were as cut and dry as your figures suggest countries all over the world would not be looking to renegotiate their deals a couple of races into a ten year contract and in some cases they are looking to get out of the deal all-together.


If the teams took 60%, the profit for F1 would be reduced to £3.3m last year, and if the teams get what they want and were paid 70%, F1 would have made a £76.7m net loss last year.

A for bleeding countries dry, the positive economic impact of hosting an F1 GP ranges from as little as US$35 million for Belgium to as much as US$394 million for Malaysia.

The Texas Comptroller’s office (Austin) projects a positive economic impact of around $300 million annually, a larger windfall than that of South by Southwest and an entire season of The University of Texas football home games combined.

But it seems no one state-side can be bothered to sign the contract.


Bernie used the proposed Donington GP as a bargaining chip to get Silverstone to upgrade their facilities to get their new contract. This news does not surprise me.

Not to defend Bernie but F1 is majority owned by a CVC:


Bernie is CEO and he answers to them. If he explained to them that some building worker's contracts might get cut short and we should take a hit to keep the GP there he wouldn't be CEO for much longer.


Bernie didn't earn the reputation he has by being magnanimous -- more like ruthless, methinks. Just 'politics as usual' in the F-1 world, eh?


Yes but, this is a market that the entire F1 community has been proclaiming as incredibly important. With this in mind, just for once couldn't they have got their act together and moved forward in a spirit of partnership and co-operation? F1 is a bully, it constantly plays once venue off against another to extort more and more money. At some point the tide will turn and these countries/consortiums will have collectively had enough of being treated in this manner by what is essentially a completely irrelevant, in terms of real world issues, sport.

Money has been spent in Texas, work has begun and jobs are on the line. F1 has a mmoral and ethical obligation to consider this if it is trying to use the New Jersey race to snatch yet more money than was originally agreed under the first contract from the tax paying people of Texas.

The greed and social irresponsibility of F1 simply must stop or it's legacy will be hostile governments, unemployment and skeleton tracks all over the world. At a time when much of the developed abnd eastern world is seeing a groundswell of opinion against social injustice it is incredible that F1 feels it can just carry on regardless. People have bigger fish to fry than F1 at the moment but that will change. 'Greed is no longer good' Geko is out and public opinion is in.


Yes, well said Wayne.

"it constantly plays once venue off against another to extort more and more money".

The unabashed definition of greed...


Well said Wayne!


Sad. I believe a race in the US would be good for F1 and from what I've seen the track seemed quite intersting.

But F1, for reasons not so clear, seems to make a mess of its US efforts.

I think its time for Mr E to charge less to host a race in order to make it viable for countries to host an event. Also tracks need some money for hosting events in order to keep facilities up to spec. Would be nice if there some affordable events on the calender and would be even better to see some people in the stands on race day.


[mod] Give six months and the Jersey race will; be off too.


All one has to do is watch an episode or two of "Top Gear" and you'll see what is the pervasive British attitude towards anything "American". I'm afraid that the F-1 community has that same core belief, despite the corporate line "we need the U.S. in F-1."

Unfortunately, at this time, the U.S. doesn't need F-1.


I could nto disagree more. There is no pervasive anti-US feeling in the UK. Top Gear is an Entertainment show, it has run specials that have a 'pop' at every country on the globe, including about how dull and depressing the UK is! We just laugh WITH Jeremy, Richard and James rather than sulk.

The UK has a generally positive view of the US, many still think of Americans as distant cousins - almost family on the global stage. The average American has a lot in common with the Average Brit. It is just that the USA is so large a country that the extremes of American society are magnified, but those same extremes exist everywhere.

I do agree that the USA does not need F1, however.


I wonder if Texan's have heard of a place called Donnington Park???


You said everything. Donnington Park is the big example, How to loose a GP.


Or of how hosting a GP is almost completely beyond the means of countries/consortiums. Although in the case of Donnington, I'll admit they wildly over-reached. But something tells me that Bernie knew this and used it to jump-start Silverstone into action.

A tactic that was both positive and negative:

Positive: I often feel that beneath BE's granite exterior he has a soft spot for the British GP and believes it important, and the action he took ensured that there was a British GP for a very long time to come. The length of contract he granted Silverstone was extraordinary and maybe it was his retirement gift to his home country. To sentimental for BE? Perhaps but perhaps not.

Negative: He has been around long enough to know the Donnington projetc was never going to be ready even if the wild finance plans somehow delivered. He used the circuit and therefore the people contracted to work on it in the full knowledge they would fail and people would end up out of work or not having the opportunity to enter into work in the jobs that the circuit would have created?

BE: Saint or sinner? There's a bit of both in there. I for one, having spent years decrying his business practices, may shed a tiny tear when he retires in the privacy of my living room - but I would not tell anyone about it! That sums up BE for many people in my opinion.


This dispute cant do Formula One any good in the eye of the Americans as the sport would possibly be seen to be waisting more of their money, even if no tax dollars had been spent on it. Ive always been sceptical of this race even happening, but we will see what happens.


Formula 1 race in New Jersey is a concern, as additional races have the potential to reduce the number of attendees to a Texas race


If I recall correctly what the American readers on JA on F1 told me... ''The US is so large that it has a big enough market for F1''

Well wouldn't it be a shame if Texas got cancelled because it was being rated by the arm-chair-designers as Tilke's greatest track ever as I believe it was being built in the hills.

But am not surprised for this sort of thing is bound to happen in the US or Turkey or South Korea... And which begs the question, why or why did Bernie approve another circuit in the US when we already had Texas.


Having read some articles, I finally figured out why sports like football & F1 don't make it in the US.

1) Americans aren't good at either

2) Americans like sports that are entertaining i.e. Sports were one can win in the dying minutes or seconds e.g. Basketball, Nascar etc

Whereas sports like F1, the result is (in most cases) determined on the first lap or football which sometimes ends in a draw.


The US national team is ranked in the top 5, beat your bunch of punters in the last WC, and has more young kids playing.... So, get your facts straight... I won't even mention the reliance in Europe on players from outside the core countries... As for F1, Americans don't LOVE F1 for the reasons everyone else SHOULD be sick of F1... tedium ie processional races, elitism of the teams and drivers, and the politics. the race at Indy showed what the sport SHOULD look like. Sure, it was dodgy track but the event was awesome. I know as I was at most of the events... I should also mention I was at the Glen in the '70s


Hey Eric as a full blooded New Yorker and a huge football fan (YNWA baby!) do us US based F1 AND football fans a favor and STFU about things you know nothing about. The US was NEVER ranked in the top 5 and the only time we beat the punters (sorry lads but you kinda are...viva el tiqui taka y tambien la Celeste carajo!) in a world cup was in Brazil, 1950 (Uruguay campeon del mundo!). As to some of the other nonsense you post, have you ever heard of Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers? Do you remember MJ and the Bulls? Did you ever get tired of watching the Red Wings win? And how about the Yankees, the greatest team in all of sports (go ahead, mess with them)? F1 has a lot of faults, no doubt, but it is still the top tier of auto racing and always will be. F1 belongs in America and we're big enough to have a race in Texas AND New York, err I mean New Jersey [sigh].


Yeah Eric, no kidding you're not from New York. This is about F1 so let's forget the football stuff (although top 10 is not the same as top 5 and in spite of the rankings USA always underperforms, but whatever). Your point was that American's shouldn't LOVE F1 because... "tedium ie processional races, elitism of the teams and drivers, and the politics." My point by citing examples of American sports is that we have plenty of the same here and those sports have plenty of support. So yes your points about F1 are well taken, the sport has issues like any other sport, but don't write it off just because of that. Many factors come into play, the primary one being fan experience. If you go to a race and have a thrilling time, I at least, won't much care about tedium, elitism and politics. This is why more than a million people a year go see the Mets!


I am not from NY. Try New Englad. Attended my first world Cup match in 94. And you need to look again at your stats for where the US entered the previous 2 two world ranked in the top 10, which explains why they did as well as they did. Yeah, they didn't beat England. 1-1 tie. I think basketball is complete waste of time. Please save the profane language for your school friends. I stand by what I said about F1's image issues.


The US national team is ranked 34th. http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/index.html Although over a year ago they were in the top 20. Also, last year it was England 1-1 USA in the World Cup.


The USA needs to be on the F1 calendar, for sure for the sport to grow into the future. But these latest rumblings smack of contrivance and misguided commercial motivations superceding the interests of the sport itself. I think the FIA needs to step in govern here to guarantee that the needs of the fans are being met, as well as the businesses involved. All too often the business side of F1 rules the day, and the supporters are a forgotten after thought. The USA is the third largest country in the world, in physical size, with 300+ million citizens, and could easily develop fans for both locations. Let's not limit F1's potential fan growth before it even has a chance to get fully seeded. Europe is physically much smaller than the USA and it has multiple F1 events, and the strongest fan base in the world. Let's give the USA a chance to grow, before we throw this baby out with the bath water.


Those numbers seem impressive. But I think F1 in the US may never reach its potential. Why? Because the Americans are a narcissistic lot. The world revolves around North America don't forget.

For F1 to truly grow in the US, they need a US F1 team, with US Sponsorship, with two US drivers recruited from Indy Car (preferably the most popular Indy drivers they got, with the possibility of a woman driver as their reserve driver - to get the tongues wagging).

Without a US F1 Team (ahem Pete Windsor - good try), Formula One racing will be a bunch of "Euro" drivers in Euro cars racing around. There simply is not enough pull there. One US driver in a midfield team ain't going to cut it.

If I were an American and I had the option to spend money on a ticket to attend :

F1 NY: To watch Scott Speed (or equivalent) in a Toro Rosso fighting for 10th place,


Indy 500: One of the biggest racing event with a host of US drivers I already know and love...

I know what I would be spending my money on.

Tracks will come and go and it seems one US track may even bite the dust before it has even been built. After a few years racing on the New Jersey track, with numbers declining,

Bernie will go and look for greener pastures.

That is of course until 10yrs later, when someone proclaims, F1 needs the US and the cycle starts again.


I don't think BE has much inetrest in actual live ticket sales - he would not look for greener pastures just because tick sales decline - that's the circuits problem. He is interested in hosting fees and TV audiences. Look at Turky and most of the newly introduced circuits for proof of that.


I'm with you there Andrew. There's a huge growth potential, which could be even higher if Alexander Rossi makes it into the top level of motorsport.

Austin is close enough to Mexico for supporters of Perez and for Brazillians to take a reasonably medium haul flight to grow attendance figures.

COTA might need to strengthen the appeal of the event by pairing F1 with the V8 Supercars instead of running the two series separately.

There is also a growing support in the US for 'road course' touring cars. The organisers might be inspired to look at what Abu Dhabi and Melbourne are doing, especially after the excellent viewing figures of the Bathurst 1000 on SpeedTV.


Why is it that every time F1 tries to enter the U.S. something or somebody throws a spanner in the works!

Remember the last time F1 held a race over there in 2005 ... a bemused American public watched 6 Bridgestone clad cars 'race' whilst the Michelin cars were packed up and shipped back to Europe.

Surely Bernie should support and give the Austin GP a fighting chance of survival before talking about the race in New Jersey... this is just a case of Bernie getting greedy!!! I saw the BBC / David Coultard coverage of the new track been built in Austin - it's going to be great - a showcase of F1 in the U.S..... what a shame if Bernie throws a spanner in the works with his greedy ways.


"Greed is good" ; )

B.E. always detaches himself from the hosts desire/requirement to make money, always. That is not his concern.

He doesn't see SPA, Silverstone, Istanbul... he sees $$$, $$$, $$$.

He is the key master; and his only job is to rake it in for CVC. It is not to hold other business peoples hands.

This is what F1 is nowadays. IMO.


Ya ain't that just the sad truth... my interest in F1 wanes every year due to the sport being swallowed up by politics and greed!


Sigh... To be honest I would rather go to New York than Texas, but I don't want to wait another year!


Been to both parts of America before and although New York was my favourite place on the trip. Given the choice between a street race in the suburbs of New Jersey and the wide open spaces of Texas I would pick Texas as I think that it is the circuit that would be more interesting to watch and give you the most unique experience.

I stopped watching V8 Supercars because of street circuits taking the place of purpose built tracks.


It's a shame if it doesn't go through, since the track was looking very interesting. If I remember correctly, it was supposed to be a mixture of many of F1's best corners etc.

New Jersey will not offer such an interesting track, although it will offer the Manhattan skyline.

Personally, I'd take the track over the skyline.



I'm junked again and can't comment.

What am I going to do over winter? I've limited myself to 5 comments per week. But my hotmail is still getting flagged as junk.


I am forced to post via fake emails, as my actual email is not accepted.


I can't post replies via my work email address for some reason so i gotta use my 'yahoo.co.uk' email account


I really hope this doesn't die. As new F1 fans in the US, I was looking forward to next year's Austin race being the first GP for my son and myself. I've been on CotA mailing list since I first heard of the event and have been waiting for the announcement that tickets were on sale. Hell - I've already scheduled time off and finagled lodging with family in the area for the weekend after the 2012 calendar came out.

I was also excited to hear about the New Jersey race, as it's a bit closer to me, but I can't help but imagine the costs of staying anywhere in the area for the weekend are going to be outrageous, which might put it out of my reach.

I can understand the concern that the two races might cannibalize each other's attendance to some extent, but I suspect there are plenty of fans who would do their best to attend both events.


An interesting point about NYC hotels, they aren't even oriented as much as they are season/date oriented. This is New York, the capital of the world, some event event is ALWAYS happening here. Jersey is a different story, but why would you come all this way to stay in Jersey? Trust me if you do your research you will find hotels with reasonable rates maybe not in the City, but in Brooklyn or Queens for sure.


If the country the size and population of US can't handle two races at two ends of the season paired with other events - the world really must be ending in 2012.

Let's not be jelous Texas Finance Chief. Your race will have plenty of visitors. Including Central America and West Coast. Who on this continent isn't going to go to all 3? Either at in one or in seperate seasons.


Am I right in saying Ecclestone never says anything unintentionally? I don't think we know all the ins and outs of the negotiation.

I doubt Bernie would do anything that would damage a project of F1 in the US.

Surely, if the US starts having doubts about the USGP, then the New Jersey GP is bound to experience collateral damage somewhere down the line.

So... The enigma that remains is what it will take for BE to publicly give his full backing to Austin?


You mean as in "I wouldn't bet my money on Austin happening next year"? That's more or less what he said in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Talk about undercutting the USGP.

I was really looking forward to this, but between Bernie's stupid comments and the Texas State being (mostly Republican and therefore) very careful with how it (is perceived it) uses tax payer money, it seems like my trip to Austin is in jeopardy.

That and I won't be able to afford a hotel in New York for the GP of the Americas...

Great. I guess Montreal it is, then...


Believe it or not NYC is not much more expensive than Montreal so cost really should not be an issue. I'm going to Montreal and Austin, and I live in New York, so I guess I can be persuaded to take a PATH train to Jersey fof F1!


The economic outlook for the States is so poor at present, it will be a miracle if either race goes ahead, let alone two of them. Everyone I know down there has their belts tightened (and they would be candidates for the grass-roots type racing fans F1 so desperately needs in the US) - it is just about the worst time in recent history to be trying to do something like this. Field of Dreams was a fictional movie.


Can't say I am surprised by the way this is going, I always expected this event to bomb... though thought it would take a year or two before the plug was pulled & for the circuit to start trying to get Nascar to add another road race to their calender.

You just have to look at the Red Bull demo run on the streets of Austin to see the appetite for F1 in the US:


Whats that, about 20 people behind a barrier? Compare that to any European street run.

If F1 can't be successful at the Indy then I think there is little hope for it in the US... even on a dull Tilke series of 90^ corners & short straights with NYC in the background that New Jersey will inevitable be.

If F1 wants more races in the Americas then they would do better looking at Argentina or Mexico!


Apparently you are unaware of the Hamilton/Stewart car swap at the Glen. Besides do that same street run in Times Sq. And the WHOLE world will sit up and take notice.


Eh, that was a closed set and they were keeping people out of shot, listen to the cheers after, far more than 20 people.....


Luckily the New Jersey track is a street circuit, which makes it harder for Tilke to mess up.


Lopek, the Indianapolis F1 races were near sellouts until the Michelin fiasco and then Schumi handing over race win to Rubens that just mocked the fans and killed their interest in F1 for good. I've been a regular at the Indy RedBull Motogp race from the last 2 years and the crowd has been just spectacular.


Reasons against a us grand prix.

Americans can't handle f1. They have their boring NASCAR and Indy, where god forbid, a car actually has to turn a corner.

Any who, it will be bound to failure, however I would love to see a race in jersey. Would be interesting.


I was planning to go to Austin from Boston. But after having heard NJ race which is 4hrs drive from Boston, my plans changed. So yes, NJ race is eating into Austin's. Note that NE region in Us is where you have lots of immigrants from all over the world who are aware of F1 (Boston, NY, Phily, DC and of course NJ). Austin has only Dallas and Houston which are not that immigrant heavy population, so Austin race has to attract "indigenous" Americans and that is not easy!


Many of the US F1 fans are East Coast and West Coast based. But NJ will be closer to Montreal than Austin


Hi James,

I don't think NJ has to worry about Montreal, many East Coast F1 fans will find it more convenient to attend the NJ race. As for the hard-core fans this is great, they'll have a chance to go to two races back-to-back! I've done that with Montreal and Indy, and met many US and Canadian fans who've done the same. Hopefully the ticket prices and accommodation in NJ will be more like what Indy used to be and not like Montreal!


I'd call Bernie a tyrant but he would probably take that as a compliment.


James - any idea of the support racing? That might help to draw a crowd. For example in Australia, the V8 support race is arguably more popular than the main event.


As a regular attendee, I can confirm the opposite: F1 is far more popular than the V8 at Albert Park and the difference is palpable in the grandstands.

Besides, it wouldn't make sense anyway.

V8 fans (and curious) go to their local events.

Melbournians get their race at Phillip Island, a track where you have far more visibility of the action.

The rest of Australia travels to their local races, e.g. Adelaide 500, Bathurst 1000/Homebush, the Gold Coast 300, etc.


Aussie V8s are going to support F1 in Abu Dhabi next year, apparently


I wonder if the CoA has approached NASCAR about a support race, or a co-headliner race, as that might do a lot to attract fans. Indy never had a problem with fans, but that city is used to open wheel racing.

Than again, maybe the combined licensing fees might be prohibitively expensive? They could try to attract one of the lower levels of NASCAR, like the Camping World trucks, or the Nationwide cars. I don't know enough about NASCAR to completely draw up this idea, but then it's not my job, it's theirs, eh?


The distance between Austin and New York is around 1700 miles. The following grand prix are held within 1700 miles of each other:

Japan, Korea, China.

Malaysia, Singapore.

India, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi.

Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Monaco, Valencia, Spain.

Canada, New Jersey.

Only Turkey (1900 miles from GB), Australia and Brazil are more outliers than Austin and New Jersey.

So the proximity argument is disingenuous.


The problem with the NY race is that Montreal is only 6 hours driving away...which is nothing over here. The catchment pool for Montreal will certainly be diluted by a NY race.

It makes more sense to have a race further south, in my mind. There are a ton of gear heads down there.


I live midway between NJ and Montreal (Saratoga Springs, NY). It would take only five hours by car to attend both events, and by a jet plane only 45 minutes. How do we explain F1's success in Europe where the time differentials are even far smaller than this? Additionally, you are talking about the NYC metro area where the population in the tri-state area is 24 million??????


I don't understand how Instanbul is more of an outlier. It's about 650 miles from Budapest.


Yes, but the USA is a very connected up country thanks to the jet plane


True, but Canada is equally well connected to it by that standard, so following that line of thought you wouldn't bother with a race in the USA at all. If the USA can host two viable MotoGP races, to say nothing of two championships like NASCAR and IndyCar, within its borders, then two F1 races shouldn't be a problem. There's also the different catchment areas to factor in as well - many who would go to the New Jersey race would not go to Austin and vice versa.


Texas being mostly in the middle of the country is close enough for most people to make the drive. That's my reasoning for planning to make the Texas event, and miss out on New Jersey. Grass root type fans can and will pay to drive with a friends across country to see a race. Paying for plane tickets, and hotels makes the New Jersey event out of reach for many fans like myself living on the west coast. Hopefully the event goes through.


How is Texas mostly in the middle of the country? Typical Lone Star thinking! Texas is closer to California than to New York by about 2000 miles!


Austin to New York: 1521 miles

Austin to Los Angeles: 1242 miles


You got me there, my compliments! I will say this Texas "feels" about 2000 light years from New York...LOL! Its a big state and this is a big country, hence 2 GPs, one in TX, one in NJ...no problem. I'm going to both AND Montreal!


It seems telling to me that Tavo Hellmund is trying to get out. You'd think if everything was rosy he'd hang around for the completion bonuses etc. Apparently he's trying to use this as a stepping stone to work with Bernie on other events, but jumping ship on this one is not a great way to build a reputation.


Maybe this was the 3rd cut Rick Perry could not remember?


Both GPs will be a failure anyway.


Why? What do you know that the rest of us and the organizers/promoters don't? I believe TX and NJ will be Americas finest hour in motorsports.


Not to Bernie - he'll still get paid megga millions. It's no skin off his nose if they flop eventually; it's all a game to him at this stage of his life.


As much as i will miss the V8's the introduction of the 1.6L Turbo has attracted Ford & Chevrolet for 2014. I wonder if the US races fall apart whether they will still have interest.


It's the same with every new race now: Constant scandal, problems, drama.


And, really, why bother? What F1 race that is run on a circuit built in the past decade specifically for F1 has been a smashing success? Malaysia's a great track and beautiful venue but I've been there for the race and not many Malaysians joined me. The same problem blights China, Korea and Turkey. Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are perverse salutes to excess rather than successes. India is perhaps going to work out, thankfully. The street circuits of Singapore and Valencia are interchangeably banal (on TV) but for fact one is held at night. None of these new races are really the success the money invested would require them to be, either.

The greed of this sport's overlord appears to be pushing all of these tracks to be built on tight deadlines with massive investment required to pay his crazy fees, all for the spectre of hosting a race for a short period, as Turkey has discovered.

I was in Montreal this year and stood in mud, laughed at the pit tower (so blandly 1980s) and generally felt like I was at a good ol' fashioned race track. And 100,000 or so fans felt the same way too.

I think Bernie's demands are creating all of these problems.



I agree with your argument that one very important aspect of a tracks success is how well it attracts investors and sponsors for F1. The sport needs these amazing looking venues to wow sponsors and convince them to enter the sport. But when it really comes down to it, the only reason the majority of sponsors and companies are in F1 is for marketing. Some may be passionate about racing, but most companies are in F1 because they want the exposure it provides. The newer tracks like Valencia, Bahrain, abu dhabi may be business successes, but the quality of racing they provide pales in comparison to the great tracks like spa, montreal, etc. These new extravagant tracks are designed with sponsors in mind, not the fans. They lack substance in my opinion. For this reason, these tracks have been labeled failures by many fans. Putting sponsors needs over the desires of fans when choosing new venues could be the start of a vicious circle. If the track is poorly designed, it won’t be popular with fans, and if fans don’t like the track, they are less likely to attend. If the fans don’t like a track and aren’t willing to pay ridiculous prices to attend, then why would sponsors want to continue paying the massive sums of money to advertize there?

My point is that the fans are the life blood of any sport. When a sport starts putting sponsors before the fans themselves, they are asking for trouble. Sponsors provide the money that makes the sport work, but without fans to advertize to, the sponsors will also start to disappear. It is in everyone’s best interest to have the quality of the track design and of the quality of the racing to be one of the top priorities when designing or choosing new venues,

This argument is a generalization and my opinion is that of a racing purist. Although purists are a minority of the viewership, and therefore purists opinions are not a priority for FOM, the purists makeup the core fanbase that will always be there, and has always been there supporting the sport since its inception. Ferrari has a ‘greater say’ in the running of the sport due to its commitment to the sport and how long they have been involved. Don’t the purist fans deserve a ‘greater say’ due to our long term commitments to the sport?

Great reporting as always James.


That's a bit harsh. Bahrain is a good track (without that added loop in the middle) that has problems that are nothing to do with racing, Abu Dhabi and Singapore have established themselves, alongside Monaco as the three races all the top execs come to from sponsors and manufacturers etc. They are very successful races, even if the action on track isn' top notch. India will soon join that list.

I agree about Korea and Turkey, where the local buy in has been poor and Malaysia has done okay as a circuit, but lacked crowds. We'll see if Team Lotus/Caterham F1 team progress helps that.


I agree & even go further to say that without some of these races (like Singapore, Abu Dhabi, etc) which help to fill Bernie's pocket with more cash, some more of the other better circuits in Europe may be terminated. At least with enough dollars from these less exciting circuits Bernie is willing to retain some others. F1 is not just a sport its complex business.


I meant I agree with James.


Yes but the action on the track is ultimately what makes F1 appealing to watch over a season, and the number of TV viewers dwarfs the number of people who get to admire the new facilities at the track. Without the TV viewers those execs would stop coming to Singapore and Abu Dhabi. I read somewhere (maybe on here) that there is talk of the return of a French grand prix which would alternate with Spa. When tracks like Spa and Montreal are being pushed off the calendar because the schedule is full of endless bland Tilke tracks, then the sport is losing what's left of its soul. I agree with Tim.


I am sick of hearing these kind of comments from people working in F1.

From a fan perspective a race is NOT a success if track action is rubbish. Nothing else really matters.

I don't care how nice the press centre is, or how big Bernie's office is, or how flash the hospitality areas are or how pretty the lights on the hotel are. If the racing is rubbish then the race is rubbish and the circuit is rubbish and it has failed.

Stick the teams in a field under awning at a circuit that produces great racing year in year out over the dull excesses of Singabore, Dullencia or Abu Dhabi any day.


Monaco is a bit of a quirk to be fair - it's had a history of providing a demanding challenge to drivers and entertaining races (up until the aero-dominated era at any rate). New tracks don't have that provenence, which means they have to stand or fall based on the spectacle they produce. You're right in that businesses need to buy into the product via its facilities, and the opportunities they provide, but at the same time no business is going to want to be associated with a boring sports event. Speed and noise only go so far, and it it fails to deliver on excitement then it won't impress their customers and won't generate business for them, which considering how much they fork out for hospitality is what really counts.


James, you make an excellent point about business involvement in your reply.

Thinking about it a little, I would venture a guess that it's a big part of the reason F1 has never really caught on in the U.S. One race a year in the U.S. simply isn't enough to entice U.S. businesses to invest.

The U.S. is a very saturated sports market. There are four major sports leagues. Baseball has 162 games, Basketball and Hockey with 82 games each, and Football with 16(?). NASCAR has what, 30 or so races a year? That's not even counting college sports which attract a ton of advertising. Where is the incentive to invest in a niche like F1? I would guess it's just not that enticing for U.S. corporate sponsors.


You miss my point. I'm not talking about facilities here.

I'm saying that a race will only succeed if the businesses in the country buy in (as Koreans and Turks have not but Indians have) and equally important if sponsors and companies involved in the sport are able to use F1 to grow their businesses in that country/region (Abu Dhabi/Singapore/USA)

The discussion about whether a track is any good for racing is very important, but completely separate.

As for you point that "If the racing is rubbish then the race is rubbish and the circuit is rubbish and it has failed." That is obviously not true.

Monaco has survived pretty well since the 1930s - until recently has been the most important race of the year - without being a track on which you can overtake..


Are we really measuring 'success' by 'number of corporate executives in attendance'?

If so, this sport is already finished.


No, everything has its place. Without the sponsors and manufacturers you'd be watching Indycar level racing or GP2. It's the scale of F1 that makes it what it is.

That requires investment. Although I'm a great believer that costs need to be controlled.


I was looking forward to a 2013 season where I could drive from Delaware/Philly area on up to Montreal, on down to NJ/NY, sit on my computer to watch some BBC streams, then hop on a plane to Houston (to grab my British uncle) for another mini roadtrip towards Austin, and finally fly back home for a family reunion.

Hopefully that dream will come true but if it doesn't, at least the North American Continent still has the Canada GP.



I mean, I would then have LOTS to be thankful for come the Thanksgiving family reunion, right??



I'm grateful for the comments above by Damien and Douglas.

I fear that we might end up losing BOTH/ALL U.S. F1 possibilities. If Texas is going to chicken out like this worrying about NJ competition, then NJ might also quit later on down the line, on the grounds that "Texas F1 didn't work, so ours might not either"!

I agree too we are not really in an economic climate ready to (pay for) starting up F1 in USA: I live in California and wouldn't be willing to travel to any US F1 circuit just now!

And to be fair to Bernie, he is still just a businessman and (a) it's not really fair to blame him for allowing this Texas problem to happen, and (b) it's unreasonable to expect him to help in any way: he'll 'back' whoever is prepared to pay the agreed fees, but if they want to back out, you can't expect him to (financially?) do more.

This is all America's Business-Peoples' problem, not Bernie's.


Much prefer a properly designed purpose built circuit than a street circuit including Monaco. Fancy backdrops are OK, but we and more importantly Bernie Ecclestone should not lose sight of what makes for good racing rather than simply chasing the dollars with a Manhattan skyline. Bernie up to his usual tricks no doubt, but he should remember he needs all the friends he can get to re-establish F1 in the states, and he could end up

being told to take F1 elsewhere which would be a pity. Personally I think the states could easily stand two circuits of quite different character.


I'm looking forward to driving down to Texas to see a race. I have no interest in flying to the east coast to see a race, especially in Jersey. There is no competition between the two races for me.


LOL what happens in Deliverance country stays in Deliverance country! Although I will give you that as a native New Yorker and massive F1 fan, an F1 race in Jersey, as opposed to the City, is a bitter pill to swallow.


Everyone knows that when shaking hands after making a deal with Bernie you have always had to check how many fingers you have left afterwards - and make sure you get your expensive pen back !

Everybody knew that Bernie had been talking about a New York race for some years so the situation was easily predictable.

It's clear that the people who negotiated with Bernie for the Austin race have only themselves to blame :

If I had been negotiating the deal for the Austin race I would have asked for a clause in the contract guaranteeing that our race would be the only one in the USA - at least for a five year period to give the race a chance to establish itself.

If I had failed to get agreement on that, I would have wanted the hosting fees cut dramatically if another race took place in the US in the same year.

There was so much money of the organiser's money at stake that, had Bernie refused to agree to one of these clause, I would not have gone ahead.

This all seems so obvious and I'm not even a lawyer !


Seems to me if I was Texas, I would be worried about the effects of a New Jersey race on advertisers. If I could only advertise at one race, I'd choose the one with a 18.9 population and is a media center vs the one with a 1.7 million. But as a New Yorker, I'd go to Montreal instead of Texas, if New Jersey doesn't happen. It's 1/4 the distance and the accents are more understandable in la belle province.

Historically most F1 races in the US have drawn well, Phoenix being an exception. But Bernie insists on getting a huge cut of the money so they fall by the wayside and go looking for NASCAR or CART/IndyCar which treats them better.




That a strange concept for this side of the pond. Can you please explain??


Tax rates are a huge deal to American voters and one the key differences between the two main parties. Look at Herman Cane a man with no record in politics but his 9-9-9 tax plan is enough for his parties supporters to over look the fact a) it's an unworkable plan b) he is nuts.

Texas is a Republican strong hold and their ideology is that everyone should look after themselves and not the state similar to Thatcherism. Just mention unemployed benefits and single mothers and watch them foam at the mouth at the idea of there hard earned tax money being given the so called underclasses.

Republicans believe the state is to big and local government should rule and it leads to local people having quite a big say in how local taxes are spent. Town hall meetings are quite popular and I attended one when I was in Ohio earlier this year and it was a real eye opener which if it had not been so appalling it would have been funny. I learned whilst in Europe we call it the haves and have nots, In America it's called the haves and wanters.

I can understand given the new race in NYC, the lack of interest in F1 in American, the drop off rate of new circuits in F1 that local people would object to their money being spent on a race circuit. They have a voice and are not afraid to share it on the issue of tax.


why did not this susan specify in the original contract a claus saying there is no other gp in the united states?


Bernie got what he wanted most, a race in NYC or close enough to see the skyline. The US F1 fans don't like being played for chumps, you guys did it to us at Indy and now using Austin as bait to get the "NYC" race. The price for the "NYC" race weekend is going to be as high a NYC skyscraper, count me out.


James -- keep up the good work, thanks for all you do. Please note the new email address for your system -- apologies for using this approach, but didn't know how to do it otherwise, or couldn't figure it out.


Texas is in the middle of US,a great industrial hub and even in these hard times, it has plenty of wealth and jobs that attracts a lot of immigrants. NJ being in the east coast and being a part of tri-state region ( NY,NJ and CT),it'll attract plenty of international crowd along with Americans.

Why should TX chicken out just because there is another race in US? It is the 3rd largest country in the world, and even with downturn,one needs to add the GDP of next 4 largest economies to match US GDP! Like Martin Whitmarsh said, F1 needs US more than US needs F1, and we need to have atleast 2 races there/season. US is not Turkey or China or Korea which has no real racing culture or auto heritage.

If one thinks US has no interest in F1, they need to realize MotoGP has been holding 2 races in US for years now and both are absolute cracking sell outs! If MotoGP can establish itself in US without giving a 100 reasons, why cant F1?


If the teams really were as desperate as they say to have an American race then I'm fairly sure FOTA could loan CoA the cash.


I'm sure they would love too, however, I doubt this would happen for two reasons: the Resource Restriction Agreement and the Concorde Agreement.


Well, since we don't know what's in the Concorde Agreement I don't think we can put that down as a stopper.

As to the RRA? If all the teams agreed on an equitable way to provide the $25M then it could be made to happen.

Will it happen? Almost certainly not. Could it happen? Of course.


I live on the East Coast and New Jersey is only a few hours drive away from me and I'd STILL go to Austin over Jersey ANYDAY! New Jersey/NYC hotels are ridiculously priced and Jersey itself is the pits. Besides, I dislike street courses and from what I've seen of the Austin track, it looked far more interesting than anything they could assemble in Jersey.


Between the tire farce at Indy, the failed USF1 project and now this... its no wonder F1 cannot get a foothold in the U.S. Somehow it shoots itself in the foot at every opportunity.

I dont see all the hate towards Bernie, I dont care for the guy either, but this is ultimately a business pure and simple, pay up or go home. Sad truth.


Much as this no doubt bolsters Bernie's hardball reputation as a businessman, it's not exactly going to endear Formula One to the American public playing fast-and-loose like this. You would think they would remember what happened last time they treated the fans like mugs - 2005, I seem to recall - and how a long-term deal with Indianapolis became a fair bit shorter. It'll be interesting to see if this has a knock-on effect with New Jersey as well - if a contract is deemed this expendable, they may question whether the outlay is worth it. It's a dangerous game to be playing considering F1 arguably needs the USA more than the USA needs F1...


Another USF1 debacle is upon us


Big shame. The writing is always on the wall when Bernie starts using the press to highlight issues in contractual proceedings.

Great updates James.


I live 2 states away from New Jersey in Maryland, don't get me wrong I'd love to go to Austin, but I cant afford it, there are no direct flights from here to Austin and the cost of going there is about the same as if I wanted to go to Europe and see a GP there. Sure New Jersey is kind of a slum state but it IS next to new york, and I think people on the east coast will be a lot more receptive to a F1 race, rather than Americans in Texas and its surrounding states. Honestly there's a bigger market for F1 on the east coast, and people are WAY more likely to travel to New Jersey, than Texas.


To be honest to all commenter, i dont like to chime in BUT i will say some facts and gossips.

I remember that when bernie was in the USA 2010, he chose AUSTIN,Texas as the ONLY host for F1 because he was interviewed after a month of checking those bidding for F1 race track - he concluded that Austin is the best place for F1 as it is in the middle of USA and its very promising city.

After that, the news spread like wildfire and people knows that AUSTIN F1 will be the only F1 race track in the USA for 10 years (in the contract).

But after the hiatus about the money and those backers from New Jersey/NY still didnt stop in courting bernie even they been beat already by Austin, there was change of heart and Bernie gave the go signal to NewJersey race for 2013-thats absurd because when they did the checking of competing places, they categorically say that Austin was the winner and bested even the likes of california city to have the track for F1.

Im from New Jersey and just migrated to Austin,Texas and i can say that Austin is way cleaner, neat, and organize than any city in east coast. The track that they are constructing now is awesome because of location, design and how wide the gradndstand is.

I hope that F1 should told them in the 1st place that they are looking for 2 race tracks, because Texas taught that after the selection process - Bernie will not look again for the other one.

He just gave in to the NJ/NY backers even they lost in the selection competition last 2010. Maybe they gave him money he cant easily turn down. But he should protect the winner if the selection they made and clarify to them (Texas) that hes still looking for another one...

Theres a lot of news and blogs that it was a fearce competiton to what city or location will be selected and the wineber is Austin.

I followed the saga and i was voting in my mind to have it in NY/NJ but they lost to Austin - i said to myself and to my wife, we will fly to texas just for the F1.

Late last year, my wife got a great job in Austin and we moved and i love the place than any city in eastcoast...

So F1 should gave Austin the shot first before they look for another one again...

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