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

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20 comments on Ecclestone under pressure to set United States GP for 2009

  1. Steven Roy said on 25th January 2008, 12:38

    It is one thing I will never understand. Max and Bernie have talked endlessly about the need for F1 to crack America. Given that the country has great tracks that stand comparison with anything in the world for spectacle and driver satisfaction provided they were brought up to standard why do they keep giving the race to pathetic circuits. I understand the history of Indy but the circuit is rubbish.

  2. F1 in Laguna Seca would be the best, but I think the track would change something in its layout (first of all because they need to use new safety measures). I also remember that in 2006 Bernie was considering the idea of coming back in Las Vegas for another city-track.

  3. oliver said on 25th January 2008, 15:36

    Ecclestone is just the classic train robber. He doesn’t really care if the circuits lose money, all he’s interested in is that he makes more money. Take turkey for instance, all the money spent, now he owns the track which is the only way to guarantee they get a race. This attitude can hurt the viability of many circuits and make people lose interest in hosting races.

    The words of one of the Russian backers of a proposed circuit was like….Bernie is taking everything, all the money, be it sponsorship and hosting fees, and all they are left with is just smoke in the air.

  4. As a budding F1 fan in the United States, I am very eager to see the USGP back on the schedule ASAP! I never saw a problem with Indy, as many of the location advantages mentioned above by George are accurate. There is also an outstanding sense of history, although obviously Bernie has shown a complete disregard for such values in deciding on where F1 will visit every season.

    I am very encouraged to see good discussion on where the race should be held in the future. While I like the prestige of Indy, Watkins Glen is also great(and much closer to home for me!)I have not seen the other tracks mentioned, but i’m sure they would make for a fantastic venue worthy of the event.

  5. Maybe it’s because I am a huge fan of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but I have always enjoyed watching the USGP there. There is a level of driver access that is not seen at any other circuit. It’s also one of the only places that can draw a crowd that we have seen be around the 175,000 mark. The track (before the MotoGP changes), had an astonishing 22 seconds of 100% throttle going down the front straight, mixed in with several slow speed turns, and from what I have heard from the drivers, a very enjoyable circuit. I would love to see the GP at The Glen, but unfortunately, it’s a one-road-in-one-road-out in the middle of upstate New York. It would be difficult at best to get the F1 teams out there. Any way it works out, I think F1 needs a grand prix in the US. (When champ car ran at the Las Vegas street circuit, the casinos complained because it blocked their some of their entrances and lost them money.)

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