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.