Austin facing uncertain future
The future of the United States Grand Prix could be undertreat after the Texas government dramatically cut the subsidy it pays to the Circuit of the Americas, which in effect covers F1’s sanction fee.
The government has a pledged a total of $250m over ten years with payments over the past three years being $25m but the government this year will pay $19.5 million. Already the grand prix was set to make losses following the disruption caused by Hurricane Patricia which later flooded the circuit.
Chairman Bobby Epsten told the American-Statesman. “To use a technical term, I think we’re screwed It hit us cold. No one could foresee this coming. But the big question now is, ‘Is the race coming back?’
Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the paper: “If it’s changed, it’s going to be difficult to continue the race in Austin.” The race was built around the subsidy which is made because of the income brought to the city.
Auditor John Keel Abbott’s staff have used a different formula and concluded that the event is worth around 20 per cent less to the state than previous figures suggested.
Serious and long term – Mallya
The team principal of Force India Vijay Mallya, says that any deal with Aston Martin has to be serious and long-term. Talks between the German manufacture and the British based team has been going on for months.
Originally the brand was talking to red bull but that all depended on a now rejected bid for a Mercedes engine. Following the rejection the Mercedes owned brand began talking to their customer teams Williams and Force India. The deal which appears too many to be done has not insisted Mallya.
He told motorsports.com “Discussions are still ongoing. Decisions take time, these are not spur of the moment decisions. They can’t be for a limited period, either. Any such association tends to be longer term.”
Adding “So we are still negotiating and discussing. When it is finalised, if and when it’s finalised, it will be such a mega event that I will myself announce it, if not over-announce it!”
He insisted that it will not mean huge investment from Mercedes but will attract other investors. He said “I don’t think there would be any possibility of that (Mercedes would rebrand the power unit). I would be pretty shocked if Mercedes allowed anybody to re-brand their engine! I wouldn’t ask for it anyway”
Hamilton Illness – Mercedes say that Lewis Hamilton will race this weekend after reports he may pull out after delaying his fight because of illness. A spokesman said “He’s going to be a day late… the doctor advised him to cancel the earlier flight so he missed a press conference today.”
Hellmund interested in Manor
The man, who helped to bring Formula One to Austin and Mexico City Tavo Hellmund, is reported to be part of a group of investors interested in buying Manor. In an interview with the with the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, that time was running out for a deal to be done.
The team once again maybe struggling financially following the imminent departure of team principal John Booth and sporting director Graeme Lowdon. Hellmund told the newspaper “I think if we get to late January or February, it may be too late, and my partners and I would probably lose interest”
But says they will never going to spend $400 Million (£263 million) like Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren.
He indicated that the team would need to stick with the same engine supplier and the deal will need to pass financial scrutiny for his group’s interest to be maintained.
Boosting by 30,000 for 2016
The organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix say they believe they can buck the trend and boost the crowd numbers by 30,000 for next year’s grand prix. Normally the first Grand Prix brings in more fans.
Mexico held its first grand Prix for twenty three years earlier this month with 330,000 attending the three day event. But normally the numbers dip of following the first event and interest in F1’s heartland have been falling in recent years
Alejandro Soberon said his Mexico City venue is already looking at erecting additional grandstands and planning for an increased 2016 crowd.
Speaking to Autosport he said “Given the word of mouth, and the level of interest we received from the people who are willing to buy a ticket for next year, we think the second year is going to be more successful than the first, and I know that rarely happens in Formula 1.”
However Soberon believes that the circuit still requires some operational improvements for next year’s race. He says they need to focus on traffic management – an ongoing issue for the area.
He says “next year we will have two Mexican drivers on the grid [Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez], so it be amazing. Next year will be bigger and better.”
Stroll to join Williams
Autosport say understand that Formula 3 driver Lance Stroll is to replace Susie Wolff who announced her retirement last week. Sources have told the magazine that Stroll has had discussions with Williams.
Stroll is currently part of the Ferrari Young Driver program and his advisor Luca Baldisseri has been in discussions with Williams about the 17-year old. He has won the Italian Formula 4 title in 2014 before moving up with Prema Powerteam to the Formula 3 European Championship this year.
Stroll is the son of retail billionaire Lawrence who was linked last year to buying Sauber.