Circuit of the Americas halts construction in contract dispute

2012 F1 calendar

Austin F1 track construction

Austin F1 track construction

A dispute over the Circuit of the Americas’ contract to host the 2012 United States Grand Prix may put the race in jeopardy.

The circuit owners released a statement on Tuesday saying construction work had been stopped at the track because they had not received the race contract from Formula One Management, “per a previously agreed upon timetable”.

It added: “While construction at Circuit of The Americas has progressed as scheduled with over 300 workers at the construction site daily, all work will suspend immediately. The delivery of the Formula 1 Grand Prix race contract will allow construction operations to resume.”

Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas, said: “We have spent tremendous resources preparing for the Formula One and MotoGP Championship races, but the failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern.

“We believe the United States is vital for the future of Formula One and its teams and sponsors. Given the purpose-built Tilke design, creating a unique fan experience and iconic challenge for drivers, we hope that Texas will not be left behind. More than 100,000 fans have expressed an interest in purchasing tickets for Formula One alone.”

The race organisers added that its readiness to hold a race in 2012 had not yet been affected by the delay.

2012 United States Grand Prix

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46 comments on Circuit of the Americas halts construction in contract dispute

  1. SVettel (@) said on 15th November 2011, 21:59

    So this was what bernie was on about…

    • My exact thoughts! But then, why would he go on talking about them and not simply deliver that contract to them?

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th November 2011, 8:31

        Maybe he’s trying to eke out some more money now that his friend Tavo Hellmund and the company that builds the track are falling out of love. Or perhaps he’s just pressuring them to get together again since he already negotiated a contract for them once, but on Hellmund’s name.

  2. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 15th November 2011, 22:06

    Here’s a great article about what’s going on behind the scenes. Still no understanding of what the disagreement is though.

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111114/FREE/311149999

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2011, 0:34

      Whoops. Just noticed that this article was already in yesterday’s roundup.

    • The issue is money, some will have to take a bath, and no one wants to. With Bernie announcing the N.J./N.Y. race, the Texas state government doesn’t see formula 1 as attractive now. They were to put up 25Mil for the sanctioning fee.

  3. ajokay (@ajokay) said on 15th November 2011, 22:06

    So Bernie never actually have them a contract to hold the race then? Was those whole Circuit of the Americas a back up plan for FOM when they couldn’t get a race in New York? And now Mr E has his race in New York, he hardly needs this mucking up his calendar, does he?

    On the flip side, they really need to stop starting work on these circuits 18 months before they’re supposed to be used for the first time.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2011, 0:41

      Full Throttle Productions has the contract, which is Tavo Hellmund, and while he’s a founding member of Circuit of the Americas, it sounds like he’s had a falling out with them, so now you have the track owner and contract holding race promoter no longer will to be in business together. From what the Autoweek article says, COTA is trying to negotiate their own contract now directly with Bernie. It’s really all in their hands at this point as they’re who’ve put out the most money up front so far on track construction, and hence have the most to lose if the whole thing goes belly up.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th November 2011, 20:11

        I read in another place, that the contract with Tavo became void earlier for not making a deadline, probably with paying the up front FOM money.
        And Tavo seems to be holding out for a bigger portion of money than the rest think he deserves. Bernie is supportive of Tavo, Combs seems to be showing the publics interest and COTA are holding out.

        This being F1 and Bernie dealing, I wouldn’t be supprised if they announce that everything is now sorted out next week (remember Bernies wake-up calls to both India and Korea before everything was then “perfect” a few days lager). But it might go bad even before that as well.

  4. celeste (@celeste) said on 15th November 2011, 22:07

    Well that puts an end to my troubles Canada it is… if only I woulnd´t have to pay like $100 to at least get the interview… Curse you Canada…

  5. RumFRESH (@rumfresh) said on 15th November 2011, 22:20

    The planning of and organization of an American Grand Prix needs to be flawless or else North-Americans will grow even more frustrated with the sport and be reminded again of why most of them don’t follow it.

  6. davidhunter13 (@davidhunter13) said on 15th November 2011, 22:23

    This is sad news. F1 won’t succeed in America if F1 keeps mucking them about. The ridiculous Indy race with most of the field not participating is one thing to annoy the potential fanbase, and now if FOM are mucking about a group of decent people working their asses off to get a race (and one which I was looking forward to as they were doing it right) it hardly endears them even further to any future potential race backers. Sad stuff FOM/Bernie, get your act together. Two races in the US would be fantastic, one a cool street circuit, the other on a true European style F1 track…. ahh why do they shoot themselves in the foot. I feel really bad for the organisers of this race after all they’ve gone through so far. Please get this sorted.

  7. joac21 (@joac21) said on 15th November 2011, 22:41

    I dont think the statement its entirley honest… do you guys really think investors are going to start spending money on a track without having a contract!?!?

    i dont think so

  8. mantolwen (@mantolwen) said on 15th November 2011, 22:49

    Can’t be worse than Edinburgh Trams. They’ll be fine. Just Bernie making things out to be worse than they are.

  9. MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 15th November 2011, 23:19

    The race organisers added that its readiness to hold a race in 2012 had not yet been affected by the delay.

    In other words, this “dispute” is little more than politicking and posturing.

    Tempest in a teapot, as is most “reporting” in the F1 world.

  10. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 15th November 2011, 23:46

    The solution in all of this is simple: the organisers and the owners just need to kiss and make up.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2011, 0:37

      It doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen though. The track owners from what it sounds like, are trying to circumvent Full Throttle Productions and get their own contract directly with Bernie. They aren’t happy with the terms they’re being offered though. Something has to give on one of the three sides of this predicament though or there will be no race.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th November 2011, 20:25

        I think we might just be seeing some really hard boiled dealing going on @US_Peter! Bernie is know for it, the guys on the other side of the table are having a try at besting him. I am not counting on them throwing away some 50-100 million they already invested so far quite yet.
        Let’s wait a couple of weeks and we will know.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2011, 21:28

          @bascb, they may not have a choice but to cut their losses and move on if they can’t come up with the cash they need to secure the line of credit that will secure a contract with FOM for the rights to hold the race. The state obviously won’t be fronting any money any longer despite saying in writing last year that they would. That reversal may be at the root of all of this. If they’d paid by July when they promised to, Tavo’s contract wouldn’t be in breach, and as such wouldn’t have been voided by Bernie. As it stands the only way this will go forward is for the track owners to come up with a huge amount of cash in the next couple weeks that it sounds like they don’t have. If they thought they could sort this out, it’s unlikely that the construction equipment and facilities would be removed from the site (which photos have shown started today). I think it’s over, but I’d be pleasantly surprised if they pulled out a miracle and it happens. This isn’t what F1 needed in America especially after USF1 less than two years ago similarly collapsing at the eleventh hour due to a collapse within the organization.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th November 2011, 8:25

            I find it strange, that they would be able to find a lot of money to buy land and built the track, but not 25 million to pay Bernie upfront (money they will be getting back in a year). I am pretty sure Bernie is pushing for them to pay more than that, now they want Tavo out.

            Sadly this is all too true:

            This isn’t what F1 needed in America especially after USF1 less than two years ago similarly collapsing at the eleventh hour due to a collapse within the organization.

    • oh, if only this happened.. 99% of troubles would be solved

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th November 2011, 8:34

        Exactly my worry too. Look at how long the Team Lotus vs. Group Lotus thing went on (esp. if you consider its history back to the 1990ties); it took courts and then probably changing political tides in Malaysia to sort it out.

  11. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 16th November 2011, 0:05

    If ISC or SMI would’ve taken the helm at building this track it’d be done by now and have multiple racing schools & series running on it…. Of course SMI/ISC would then be arguing with FOM/FIA over who should pay who but atleast the track would be done… haha

    • rmac923 (@rmac923) said on 16th November 2011, 0:16

      HA! Like ISC or SMI would do anything to harm NASCRAP. They would have the USGP as a Thursday race to open for the 3 Nascar races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

      • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 16th November 2011, 0:38

        Thursday Race would probaly get better TV ratings not to mention better attendance anyway, especially if in the fall.

        As of now the UGP will be going head to head with the NFL (which likely means the race will be on Speed & not over the air FOX, so less potential viewers).

        Sunday & Saturday are Pro & College football day in Texas & Friday is Highschool Football and in Texas Highschool Football is like a religion… haha

      • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 16th November 2011, 0:40

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  12. Piffles said on 16th November 2011, 0:54

    They get all worked up about how many Mars Bars each person involved gets for the great looking Austin track, but something tells me everyone will be happy with their candy for the New Jersey car park circuit.

  13. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 16th November 2011, 1:17

    So is this a power play by the COTA organizers ….against Bernie?

    ……oh we Americans are so silly.

  14. Eggry (@eggry) said on 16th November 2011, 1:39

    Bernie don’t talk doubt without reason.

    • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 16th November 2011, 1:50

      There are two parties. One has got a track and is building it, and the other has got the contract. And they forgot to talk to each other

      epic rofl

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th November 2011, 6:49

        It doesn’t sound like it’s that complex an issue. The way I understand it, FOM issues two separate contracts: one with the circuit owners, to say that the circuit will be used for the race; and one with the promoters, to say that they will run the event. It’s a separation of powers, probably to stop the promoter from using a contract to take the event elsewhere without warning or approval. It also protects both the circuit owners and the promoters from one another, because they depend on each other. However, from the sounds of things, I’m guessing that the promoters feel that FOM should have issued one contract to them and them alone, giving them the rights to host the event and the use of the circuit. And Bernie, wisely enough, will not issue any contracts until the dispute is resolved.

  15. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 16th November 2011, 3:38

    What was Bernie talking weeks back?? Seems like they aren’t paying him too much for the race so he decide that it’s better not to sign any contract.

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