Earlier this month Pitpass featured an article entitled 'Clouds gather over New Jersey Grand Prix' which focussed on the fact that it is unclear where the funding for the race will come from. It is due to take place in around a year so you would have thought that some news would have leaked out by now about who is covering the cost. It turns out that we were ahead of the game again as F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone has now revealed that he doesn't know if the race will happen.
Speaking to Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt, Ecclestone said "I don't know if it is going to happen. I hope everything will be OK. They are sorting things out internally with some of their funds. If they are ready for 2013 we will have them."
Ecclestone added that the delay has led to the race organisers paying penalties. "We are waiting for different parts of the contract to be agreed. They are late," he said. Some sources have even indicated to Sylt that Ecclestone has as good as cancelled the race already, though the claims have been dismissed by the race organisers.
A spokesman for the New Jersey race, known as the Grand Prix of America, said "we don't comment on our contractual relationship with Formula 1 or its details. We are on track for a June 2013 race, with all course engineering and construction progressing precisely on schedule, a strong management team in place, and strong ongoing support from New Jersey, New York City and the local communities involved. We are very confident that the 2013 F1 Grand Prix of America will be a great event."
The Grand Prix of America is planned to run on 3.2 miles of public roads which snake alongside the Hudson River opposite Manhattan's historic skyline. The race is run by US fund manager Leo Hindery and although he may have made Ecclestone a little displeased at the moment the F1 boss is likely to have a higher level of tolerance with him than with his rivals. This is because Ecclestone has been trying to bring an F1 race to the New York City area for nearly 40 years.
If the race doesn't get off the ground it will put even more responsibility on the shoulders of the Circuit of the Americas track in Texas. It will host the United States Grand Prix which will return to the F1 calendar in November after a five year absence. After a troubled development the Texas race is now on track and Ecclestone says "they are doing a good job with it. Every week they send me updates."
The two races are part of Ecclestone's strategy to strengthen F1's roots in the US where its popularity is eclipsed by the home-grown NASCAR racing series. There may be more US F1 races on the way as Ecclestone is currently renegotiating the Concorde Agreement, the contract which controls the location of Grands Prix and limits them to 20 per year.
Ecclestone said that under the new contract, which begins in 2013, "we could do in America very much like we do in Europe with three or four races in the same month. NASCAR probably wouldn't be happy. If we planned it carefully we could probably go to two or three more races." Whether the teams will agree is another matter and, as Pitpass recently revealed. if Ecclestone wants more than 20 races they are the ones who hold the keys.