Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he considered holding New Jersey's Grand Prix of America on a permanent track rather than the street circuit which has failed to get off the ground since the race was announced in 2011.
"We looked at a permanent circuit in that area three years ago," he admitted. Instead, he chose a 3.2-mile track on public roads which snake alongside the Hudson River with Manhattan's striking skyline in the background. Although the setting is undoubtedly stunning, it counts for little at the moment as it there is no evidence that the race will be taking place.
As Pitpass revealed ast year the race organisers need to find £61m ($100m) in order to get the green light and this has been a long-standing stumbling block. The Grand Prix of America is the only proposed event in the 64-year history of F1 to be dropped from the calendar twice and although Ecclestone has long dreamed of hosting a race in the New York area he seems to be losing patience.
The Grand Prix of America organisers are led by Leo Hindery junior, a sometime racer and managing partner of private equity fund InterMedia Partners. However, Ecclestone says that if the race goes ahead, the promoter "may not be Hindery. Maybe the venue will be a little bit different."
It could open the door again to a permanent venue as Ecclestone told me that the race organisers "are in breach" and "if anyone comes in today they can have it." A source close to the situation in New Jersey told Pitpass that the plan which was initially considered was "a 4.68km permanent circuit in full compliance with all FIA regs for Grade 1."
The source adds that "it's fortunate for F1 that the developers of the permanent circuit have had enough patience not to walk away and spend a few hundred million elsewhere."
A change of location is not the only possible consequence of the race organisers breaching their F1 contract. Last year they appointed UBS to raise the £61m needed for the race to go ahead and the investment bank's opportunity overview revealed that the contract with Ecclestone gives the organisers "exclusivity for all F1 races across the northeast corridor." This area covers not only New York and New Jersey but also other major cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C so now is the time for prospective US race promoters to strike.