|F1 Chief Surrounds New Jersey Grand Prix with Fresh Doubt|
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 17:57
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast fresh doubts of the inaugural staging of the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey by suggesting organisers have not been keeping up with contract deadlines.
The race is planned to run on 3.2 miles of public roads which snake alongside the Hudson river opposite Manhattan's historic skyline. It is located in the towns of West New York and Weehawken in the state of New Jersey and was announced with great fanfare in October.
Since then, there has been little news about progress and Ecclestone says "I don't know if it is going to happen. I hope everything will be OK. They are sorting things out internally with some of their funds. If they are ready for 2013 we will have them."
The race is run by US fund manager Leo Hindery and although it has been confirmed that public money will not be used to support the project, its backers have not been named.
Ecclestone may have higher tolerance with the organisers than he would with their rivals since he has been trying to bring an F1 race to the New York City area for nearly 40 years.
A spokesman for Grand Prix of America said: "We don't comment on our contractual relationship with Formula 1 or its details. We are on track for a June 2013 race, with all course engineering and construction progressing precisely on schedule, a strong management team in place, and strong ongoing support from New Jersey, New York City and the local communities involved. We are very confident that the 2013 F1 Grand Prix of America will be a great event."
It is the second new F1 race scheduled to take place in the US over the next 12 months. The first is the United States Grand Prix in Texas which will be the penultimate race of this season and will run on 18 November. After a troubled development the Texas race is now on track and Ecclestone says "they are doing a good job with it. Every week they send me updates."
The two races are part of Ecclestone's strategy to strengthen F1's roots in the US where its popularity is eclipsed by the home-grown NASCAR racing series. There may be more US F1 races on the way as Ecclestone is currently renegotiating the Concorde Agreement, the contract which controls the location of Grands Prix and limits them to 20 per year.
He reveals that under the new contract, which begins in 2013, "we could do in America very much like we do in Europe with three or four races in the same month. NASCAR probably wouldn't be happy. If we planned it carefully we could probably go to two or three more races."