F1 even to the casual observer must appear to be in chaos. There’s an impending EU investigation into the legitimacy of the sport’s governance amongst other things, teams quitting or close to bankruptcy, engine arguments and viewer numbers in rapid decline.
Yet behind the scenes there is one individual who appears to have everything he turns his hand to under control. This man works away from the madding crowd of the paddock and is involved with the serious business of Formula One’s future.
He is responsible for F1 returning to the USA and for contributing toward a Tilke high watermark in circuit design, at the Circuit of the America’s. He also saw the years of planning come to fruition last weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodruigez, with record daily crowds in attendance across the three day F1 event.
This man is Tavo Helmund, son of Gustav Helmund who promoted the return of the Mexican GP to the calendar in the 1980’s. The Helmund family are close personal friends of Bernie Ecclestone.
Despite being conned and excluded by his fellow investors in the COTA project, Tavo refuses to be cowed by the difficulty of working with big money players to get F1 into new places. It was he who persuaded Ecclestone to sign the deal for the US GP and Helmund Jnr who made Bernie believe in the reality of a race back at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodruigez.
Tavo now reveals to NBC, he is engaged on a new F1 venue in ‘North America’. He told Will Buxton, “We’re looking at a project that’s probably two weeks away from being able to talk about it, then looking also maybe making an investment with a team.”
Helmund’s modus operandi to date has been to find big money investors and deliver a brand new circuit in COTA, or alternatively to find an existing venue where less than $100m was required to get an old circuit up to scratch.
What is for sure, is the Tavo Helmund is delivering, and delivering good news in an F1 world where this is think on the ground at present.