A solution for the US GP and COTA


Believe it or not, there are some ‘irrational’ souls in the world who think Bernie Ecclestone is a charlatan and that having to cough up $30m for a weekend of motor racing is absurd. Further, these individuals when finding themselves in a position of power to either accede to Ecclestone’s demands or send him packing, regularly seem to adopt an ‘over my dead body’ kind of attitude.

Yes it is a shame, but one of the two finest circuits designed by Hermann Tilke is soon to declare it will no longer be hosting F1 from this year. And why? Because there are individuals in the Texas government administration who are refusing to line the pockets of Ecclestone and CVC.

Since the departure of the governor Rick Perry who agreed to fund the circuit of America’s to the tune of $25m a year for its F1 weekends, elections have taken place and the current Texas administration is less inclined to continue that agreement. The funding was cut prior to the 2015 US GP to $19.5m on the grounds that the taxes being brought in from people from outside Texas attending the F1 event were smaller than originally envisaged.

Following the release of figures from the last F1 COTA event which reveal 70% of those attending the race were from Texas itself, further cuts in funding are expected.

Ecclestone has done his usual flip-flopping; one week saying the event is doomed, the next claiming he hopes it will take place in 2016. The F1 supremo’s latest mumblings on the matter suggest the glass today is half full. Autosport report Bernie as saying, “We all want it to happen, and usually when that’s the case, things get done. I certainly can’t confirm anything at this point, but for sure there will be something within the next 30 days.

“We’ll have an answer definitely before the end of February.”

Of course there is a simple solution to save the US GP. Ecclestone was aware of the budget and funding model when he signed the contract with COTA and it is no coincidence that FOM’s agreement for the US GP is exclusively with the race promoters and not a bilateral deal including the Texas administration. Bernie knows politicians come and politicians go, but he is also aware that this race is dependent on the politicians agreeing certain levels of funding.

If Ecclestone is serious about the US GP then he has a simple choice. Chase the promoters through the courts for breach of contract for years and have no race, or reduce the hosting fee by the reduction in state funding.

Given Bernie’s track record, whilst promoter Bobby Epstein is ‘hopeful’ – it appears COTA is on a 28-day countdown to nowhere as far as hosting F1 this year is concerned.

10 responses to “A solution for the US GP and COTA

  1. if it doesn’t happen that will be a tragedy. in a series that hosts so many boring tracks COTA stood out as a real racers track and i will be disappointed if it goes.

    • yeah not sure about COTA being a “real racers” track. only one sweeping corners part. the rest dull slow corners and straights. i think the driver’s were being nice because its a race in USA and they know its important to get people excited about that.

  2. Once again, a story that is not correct
    The state of Texas, NEVER agreed to pay 25 million dollars a year!
    The agreement was, that the F1 race would qualify for the major events trust fund ( now renamed, the major events redistribution fund)
    The fund, by law, can pay out a maximum of 25 million dollars.
    The state looks at, hotel, airport and rental car taxes as well as alcohol sales.
    The race never generated a sufficient amount to receive the full 25 million.
    So the new administration did NOT cut funding. Rather, the race did not generate the economic impact.
    These rules have nothing to do with the politicians, but the Texas Constitution.
    That protects it from being changed by changing administrations .
    The other mistake, in this piece, is calling Bobby Epstein a promoter.
    Prior to this track, his racing experience was, he attended an F1 race in Dallas, in the 80’s
    He is a hedge fund manager, who’s portfolio included the land Cota sits on.
    He controls the majority interest in Cota,
    and is responsible for one ego driven bad decision after another.
    The failure of Cota will have nothing to do with F1 or the Texas government, but 1 person with the complete absence of anything other than, get all you can from everyone you can.

    • Thank you, Ward, for writing this so I didn’t have to. The Judge really needs to understand what he/she is writing about before putting pen to paper. This sort of basic error in understanding is inexcusable and reduces the credibility of the site.

      On another note, the track was NOT designed by Tilke; Tilke’s construction company built it. Quoting from the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, May 16, 2012:

      “An irony of the Circuit of the Americas project is that two people who played key roles in the design of the 3.4-mile road course promoter Tavo Hellmund and motorcycling legend Kevin Schwantz may have little to do with the track in the future.

      Hellmund, who conceived of the project, had a nasty rift with the track’s investors and is currently suing them. Schwantz, the 1993 motorcycling world champion and Hellmund’s long-time friend, seemed to be the likely face of the circuit’s MotoGPMoto GP event, which was announced at a splashy press conference a year ago. But because of a contract dispute, it’s now unclear whether MotoGPMoto GP will race at the circuit next year or any year.

      Recently, however, Hellmund and Schwantz sat down with the American-Statesman not to talk about their issues with circuit officials, but to share — for the first time — the story of the design of the track.

      It’s a process that has spanned a half-dozen years and involved scribbling, blueprints, 3D models, high-tech simulators, at least three tracts of land and a few beverages at the Hyatt lobby bar with Johannes Hogrebe.

      Hogrebe is a talented engineer with Tilke GmbH who was charged with transforming Hellmund and Schwantz’s ideas into racing reality.”

      Come on, Judge, check your work.

  3. Just to put this in perspective, my wife and I went in 2014 from California, got a decent hotel outside of Austin and got turn 5 grandstand seats…. I spent over $4000 US. From the moment I pulled out my driveway to returning home.

    • Hope you are still an F1 fan. The sport needs more fans like you. People who are wiling to spend money and make an effort to see F1.

        • You don’t know what else is included in that $4000. The tickets are probably $400 each? The rest is hotel expenses, fine dining, track merchandise, presents for Mrs. John from CA, etc… It adds up.

  4. Bernie and CVC need to get serious about promoting F1 in the US. They need to stop the short sighted thinking with race promotion fees and lower the fees so the race can go ahead. Make a deal with COTA. Set a lower race promotion fee and then add a % for revenue over a specified amount. That way both CVC and the promoter take a risk and both benefit if the race does well. The US is too important a market for sponsors. The F1 teams need sponsors to be interested in F1 and in sponsoring the teams. This mickey mouse way of doing business is losing sight of the big picture. If CVC make it easier to promote sponsors to the US market then more big sponsors and money will come to the teams and CVC. I would even do a deal with the Hulman gang and go back to Indy. Have Indy follow the Canadian GP before coming back later in the year for Austin, Mexico and Brazil.

  5. As long as investors are expecting to make huge sums of money off F1 these issues will always exist. The races will always be sold off to the highest bidder.

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