Few proposed races have had as troubled a history as the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey. It was originally due to take place this year but the brakes were put on that plan when Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt revealed that Formula One's boss Bernie Ecclestone had torn up the contract after the organisers missed payment deadlines. A new agreement was signed in May this year and just when it looked like the race was on track for 2014 it came to light that in fact there is the small matter of the organisers needing to find £66m ($100m) before it gets the green light. They have already run out of time according to Niki Lauda, one of Ecclestone's closest confidantes.
Speaking to Austrian television station ORF, Lauda recently said that "the New York Grand Prix in New Jersey that was supposed to take place this year, has not taken place because of a lack of money in America.” He added that "as far as I know it has already been taken off the calendar again."
Lauda was being asked about the situation following the news that the Austrian Grand Prix will return to F1's calendar next year. He claims that there is a direct connection between its reinstatement and the demise of New Jersey. "As a result of the good relationship with Mateschitz [Ecclestone] has included this race on the calendar," said Lauda.
Lauda's comments are far from the only recent signs that next year's proposed race in New Jersey has bitten the dust. Last month the World Motor Sport Council announced that in order to preserve the historic date of the Le Mans 24 Hours, no F1 race will take place on the June 14/15 weekend. This ruled out New Jersey having a back-to-back race with Canada as it reportedly hoped to do.
Construction work is going on in New Jersey but it has been pointed out that a great deal of it was due to take place regardless of whether the F1 race goes ahead. The real problem isn't that the organisers lack funding to finish the engineering work but that the plan does not involve any government funding. As Pitpass has explained at length, there are very few precedents of street races being run without state support. Indeed, council funding was even granted to the lowly Formula 3000 Superprix, which was held from 1986 to 1990 on the streets of Birmingham.
Lauda's comments will come as a blow to many teams in F1 which were hoping to get greater exposure to the US market through the race. One commentator recently even went as far as to say that he thinks "there will be three Formula 1 Grands Prix in the United States by 2016. The United States GP in Austin, the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey and the Long Beach Grand Prix in California... There is much negativity about the prospects of New Jersey and Long Beach... I would not listen to the naysayers."
That said, the same individual claimed in 2011 that "there are clearly moves afoot to get Flavio Briatore into Ferrari" and that Toro Rosso had been sold as the Abu Dhabi investment fund "Aabar has acquired a minority shareholding in the team (around 40 percent) and has an option to increase that to gain control (probably around 60 percent)." Then came the news that Red Bull's next development "will be as the title sponsor of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin." Last year we had the gem that "Lewis Hamilton does not know much about racing history and so cannot learn from the mistakes of others." Nuff said.