F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hauled up the white flag, conceding that his plans for a second Grand Prix in the United States – specifically New Jersey – look dead and buried, for the moment at least.
After being dumped from the 2013 calendar over a lack of funding and time in which to complete the necessary construction works, organisers of the Grand Prix of America street circuit race have again failed to convince Ecclestone that the event will be a viable addition to next year’s schedule.
This comes despite the organisers managing to secure additional investment from the UBS banking group to help raise some of the $100 million needed to make the event a possibility.
“It’s not on the cards for next year,” Ecclestone told CNN. “They haven’t got any money. It’s like Donington all over again – it is such a muddle and a mess that it is not worth doing.”
Ecclestone’s Donington reference is of course a direct comparison to the failed venture of the Donington circuit to secure hosting rights for the British Grand Prix a few years ago.
After being awarded a seventeen-year contract to take over the event from Silverstone, circuit bosses spectacularly failed to get the necessary funding to get the historic circuit up to scratch, resulting in the deal being returned to Silverstone, which managed to raise the necessary capital to overhaul its facilities and layout.
The New Jersey announcement is an embarrassing failure for Ecclestone, who put a lot of faith into the deal going ahead, including the appointment of Long Beach Grand Prix founder Chris Pook to support the leadership of businessman and former racer Leo Hindrey Jr, who was leading the project.
But while Ecclestone is claiming the event is dead and buried for the moment, New Jersey officials contradicting this, insisting that everything is on track for a 2014 debut.
“We don’t comment on financial matters, but we are on track for 2014 and will have a statement following the announcement of the official 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship schedule,” the circuit’s spokesperson Alex Howe replied.
With New Jersey almost certain to be taken off the 2014 calendar – following the lead of the Indian Grand Prix, which was confirmed as being dropped last month – it will ease pressure on an already potentially swollen list of venues jostling for position on the championship roster.
With Austria confirmed to return next year on a multi-year deal and Russia set to follow suit with its near-complete circuit around the Winter Olympics site at Sochi (although its organisers missed the deadline to submit its application paperwork), Ecclestone is also known to be entertaining the idea of a return to Mexico, as well as a possible Grand Prix in Thailand.