The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes
F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to axe the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, after contract disputes in the last few days have ground construction to a halt.
In India rumours surfaced that the event was in trouble, but it has only been in recent days that the full extent of the contract collapse has been revealed. Ecclestone’s original contract with Tavo Hellmund’s Full Throttle Productions company – who are organising the race – has been cancelled in the last few days.
As well as this, a row between the track organisers and the event promoters has surfaced, and the track developers have stopped contsruction. This is because the developers have not received the race contract from Formula One Management – Bernie Ecclestone’s company.
Ecclestone is yet to receive a guarantee of several payments from the Circuit of the Americas, and has given them up to 3 weeks to resolve the issue. To make matters worse, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who controls the money flow to the circuit, has stopped putting money into the project, stating that she will not put taxpayers’ money into the track until the race contract is secured.
Bernie explained the situation today from his point of view:
"We had an agreement with Full Throttle Productions. Everything was signed and
sealed, but we kept putting things off like the dates, various letters of credit
and things that should have been sent, but nothing ever happened.
Then these other people [Circuit of the Americas] came on the scene, saying that
they wanted to do things, but that they had problems with Tavo [Hellmund]. They
said they had the circuit, and that they wanted an agreement with me.
I told them they had to sort out the contract with Tavo, which they said they
would. But that has gone away now because we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he
was in breach.
We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why
we've cancelled. He's happy. But these other people haven't got a contract. All
we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.
We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is
via a letter of credit, normally from a bank. If people don't have the money they
find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract."
After a 4-year absence from the calendar, the United States is a prime market for Formula 1, and disputes like this will do the sport’s reputation in America no good whatsoever, considering the last debacle in 2005.