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. rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 16th November 2011, 10:50

    I can’t help but feel that something fishy is going on here. No one in their right mind is going to put up hundreds of millions without an army of lawyers making sure contracts are sorted properly.

    In 2 years’ time there will be a surfeit of grands prix; with Mexico, South Africa, Russia, and others all knocking on the door, some of the existing races will have to go. FOM will want to keep the 20 most prestigious and profitable races. Perhaps Austin has simply become a nuisance in the last year, and so some “contractual difficulties” have surfaced as a way of getting out of it. If Tavo Helmund turns up as the promoter of the new Mexican GP well know for sure.

    What this shows is that F1, like some other sports, cannot continue as a secret, private business run more like a black market operation than a global business. It must be more open and transparent. If nothing else, the court case going on in Germany will spook sponsors and they will demand higher standards of probity in future.

  2. our nige (@our-nige) said on 16th November 2011, 11:27

    Shabby by Bernie (as usual) rsp123 is right I think and Bernie has New York GP so who cares about Austin??? Can see maybe the rights for the GP being given to another country (Mexico and Carlos Slim?!) because it is now no longer needed. Stuff everyone else – its all about money… One more race to go before the dreaded SKY deal anyway…..

    • Slowhands (@slowhands) said on 16th November 2011, 18:06

      Actually, for once, I don’t blame Bernie. He has been talking about a GP with the NY skyline as a background for ages. In the absence of that, his longtime friend Hellmund brought him a doable deal for a GP in Texas that could also play well in Mexico, and Bernie gave him a friends and family fee deal to move it along. Sounds like Bobby Epstein is suddenly seeing money to be made (and influence to be had) and isn’t happy with Tavo getting what he views as the lion’s share of it since he didn’t put up any money (never mind that he brought the deal, MotoGP, V8 Supercars, etc and all the personal contacts needed). But in America monetary risk is viewed superior to intellectual capital, and Epstein likely wants disproportionate return to match his disproportionate (financial) investment. Thus he wants to nix the original deal and get a new deal directly from Bernie. But Bernie won’t give him the same terms he gave longtime friend Hellmund (and why would he, when others are willing to pay $10 M more for a sanctioning fee?). Bernie’s got his NY GP now (because he is a good businessman) so Texas is no longer his problem. Epstein better swallow his ego and stick with the original deal and make some money, because all the lawyers in the world won’t be able to get his sunk money back if there is no event.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th November 2011, 18:25

        Bernie’s got his NY GP now

        Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Ecclestone’s only “got” a New York race in the same sense that he had an Austin race 12 months ago.

        • Slowhands (@slowhands) said on 16th November 2011, 18:44

          Agree with you technically, just trying to convey a sense of where Bernie might be mentally right now. At the same time, the energy in the NY area is already exploding, projects are starting, and from Bernie’s comments, it sounds to me that he has a lot more faith in this one panning out. I would tend to trust his business/people instincts. Any GP is a huge undertaking and thus vulnerable to a multitude of challenges that can end up being deal-breakers. For a taste of the local New Jersey flavor, street-level photos of the proposed course, and how much the local community could benefit, please visit this thread on my home forum (current and ex amateur and pro racers and instructors) with many members in the NY area for a taste of the local flavor:

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th November 2011, 13:47

    Well, I hope they get it sorted. This circuit looks promising, if only for the elevation change.

  4. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 16th November 2011, 18:01

    i’ll be really ****** off if these chuckleheads flush the whole thing down the toilet. i’d be disappointed as an f1 fan, and embarrassed as an american that our most “can-do” state flounders on an international level where “emerging markets” that lack a century of industry and sport have succeeded.

    time to stop ******* around, you clowns. the aborted usf1 is still fresh in memory. don’t do this to us again.

    • Slowhands (@slowhands) said on 16th November 2011, 18:21

      To a fellow Yank I must say that it is only our misconceived American exceptionalism that keeps us from seeing how fundamentally the world has changed. We continue to use the term “emerging markets” when these markets have been “emerged” for at least a decade. The Indian middle class has been larger than the entire population of the US since 2000. In India ONE company (a cement conglomerate) put up BOTH the sanctioning fee AND built the circuit– they didn’t need this committee approach, and NO public funds were used. Here in the US we are trying to piecemeal this thing together, and it’s not working because of the egos involved. “Can-do” may have been a concept of American origin, but it depends on a subordination of personal ego to a greater good, and I fear that aspect of the American character has waned, while the rest of the world has learned well from our previous success.

      • F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 16th November 2011, 20:54

        i was thinking “can-do” not so much in effort, but in texas’ very pro-business history. here in massachusetts, bernie’s $25M wouldn’t even cover the preliminary environmental studies.

    • Slowhands (@slowhands) said on 16th November 2011, 18:23

      Meanwhile I agree with all your other sentiments. :)

    • It is just not going to happen, there are governments around the world that are willing to throw in a large amount of money to get the prestige that F1 brings. The U.S. has way too much compeition for the sporting dollar. If F1 couldn’t make it work at Indy, it will never work in the U.S. It is about the money, period.

  5. Hewis Lamilton said on 16th November 2011, 21:27

    I hope this is sorted soon. As in yesterday….

    It’s frustrating when you make reservations for June, just to cancel and reschedule for November (which they just verified to me as having my reservations) and now that date is in jeopardy.

    On top of that, I have 5 people in our party going to a Formula 1 race for the first time. Not good PR at all for F1 in the USA if this event is cancelled. The Indy fiasco with Michelin is finally in the past and basically forgotten by US fans, but I have a hunch it’s going to be news again if Circuit of the Americas event is cancelled. It seems F1 is not wanting to have any fan base in the USA.

    • The 6 car race at Indy will never be forgotten. If F1 can’t make it work at Indy, it will never make it work in the U.S.
      Way too much competition for the sporting dollar in the U.S.!!

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