Ecclestone under pressure to set United States GP for 2009

Jarno Trulli, Indianapolis, Toyota, 2007This month’s issue of “The Paddock” sheds some light on last July’s negotiations between Bernie Ecclestone and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George.

The pair failed to reach an agreement for a 2008 race reportedly because they failed to agree a price. Ecclestone apparently demanded $10m more than George was willing to pay.

According to “The Paddock” several F1 sponsors are unhappy with the loss of the race and say they would have made up the shortfall themselves.

It quotes the head of Just Marketing Internaional Zak Brown, whose company represent F1 sponsors Lenovo (Williams), Hilton Hotels and Johnnie Walker (both McLaren) among others. Brown said:

We were disappointed when it [the United States Grand Prix] went away. For us, the goal is to see if we can get them to come back at some point.

On the $10m shortfall he said:

If the sponsors had knows [about] that, it would have been sorted. Be assured that we can be back there in 2009.

I would love to see F1 return to the United States as soon as possible – even if it has to be on the modified version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course that is being used by Moto GP this year.

But perhaps there is a wider issue here. Is this a sign of the erosion of Ecclestone’s total power over the Formula 1 world?

If the sponsors aren’t happy that a race promoter in a valuable market is being held to a higher price than they can pay, then the teams won’t be happy either.

Photo copyright: Toyota

More on the United States Grand Prix

2009 F1 season

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