New Jersey F1 Grand Prix In Serious Doubt After Organizers Lose Contract
The contract to host next year's inaugural Grand Prix of America in New Jersey has been "torn up after the race organisers missed deadlines in their agreement," according to Christian Sylt of the London GUARDIAN. The grand prix "was due to take place in June on a 3.2-mile street circuit, which snakes alongside the Hudson river opposite Manhattan's historic skyline." However, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said the organizers "have not complied with the terms and conditions of the contract, which is now gone anyway." Ecclestone said, "They don't have a contract." It is a "big blow to F1 since the total income lost from the race would be as much as" £150M ($243.8M) as the organizers had a 10-year contract and an annual fee estimated at £15M ($24.4M). However, the slot could be filled with another new race, and Ecclestone "is known to be in discussion about a Mexican Grand Prix." The New Jersey race has been "beset with problems since it was announced in October last year," and Ecclestone expressed doubts as recently as May that the organizers would be ready. Ecclestone said, "They are sorting things out internally with some of their funds. If they are ready for 2013 we will have them" (GUARDIAN, 9/25). Also in London, Kevin Easton wrote that "finding big money sponsors has proved to be a problem, as it is for all circuits attempting to stage F1 races at a time of global economic stringency." It is not unusual for Ecclestone to "use brinkmanship as a way to twist the unwilling arms of circuit promoters, but New Jersey is not a race F1 wants to lose as it promises to be a showpiece to rival Monaco for glamour and Singapore for influence and income." Cancelling New Jersey would come at an inauspicious time for F1, "which already has a major job repairing its image with a sceptical American public" (LONDON TIMES, 9/25).
WHERE'S MY MONEY?: In Munich, Klaus Ott reported that German bank and former F1 shareholder BayernLB "is looking into whether it can recover millions from Ecclestone." The push for damages follow claims of jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky that Ecclestone "only received commission as the direct result of bribery." A BayernLB spokesperson said, "We have requested access to the files." The damages could amount to €41M ($53). Ecclestone's lawyers "have reportedly filed an application to block the request, leaving it to a Munich court to decide" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 9/24).