Daily Archives: November 16, 2011

Texas GP at point of collapse, says Ecclestone

The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes

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.

Young driver test Day 2 – Vergne still on top

Vergne finished day 2 on top again

Vergne finished day 2 on top again

Jean-Eric Vergne again headed the timesheets for the young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

A time of 1:40.188 in the morning was enough to secure the Frenchman top spot, despite sensor and KERS issues in the afternoon.

Ferrari test driver Jules Bianchi was again 2nd, but this time was only 0.091 seconds behind the Red Bull. Gary Paffett drove the McLaren for the entire day, and was 3rd, albeit 1.5 seconds slower than Vergne. He caused the only red flag of the day, when his McLaren spilled oil on the track.

Valterri Bottas was 4th for Williams, ahead of newest F1 debutant Johnny Cecotto Junior, driving for Force India. Sauber reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez was 6th.

Sam Bird was 7th for Mercedes, ahead of newcomer Kevin Korjus, driving for Renault. Luiz Razia was 9th for Lotus, with Kevin Ceccon 10th for Toro Rosso.

HRT split their running between Jan Charouz and Nathanael Berthon, who finished 11th and 13th respectively – Berthon only driving for the final half hour. Virgin shoe-in Charles Pic was 12th.

Times from day 2:

 1.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Red Bull-Renault      1:40.188
 2.  Jules Bianchi        Ferrari               1:40.279   0.091
 3.  Gary Paffett         McLaren-Mercedes      1:41.756   1.568
 4.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Cosworth     1:42.367   2.179
 5.  Johnny Cecotto Jr    Force India-Mercedes  1:42.873   2.685
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:43.637   3.449
 7.  Sam Bird             Mercedes GP           1:43.734   3.546
 8.  Kevin Korjus         Renault               1:43.776   3.588
 9.  Luiz Razia           Lotus-Renault         1:43.944   3.756
10.  Kevin Ceccon         Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:44.808   4.620
11.  Jan Charouz          HRT-Cosworth          1:46.644   6.456
12.  Charles Pic          Virgin-Cosworth       1:46.698   6.510
13.  Nathanael Berthon    HRT-Cosworth          1:48.646   8.458
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