Tag Archives: Tavo Hellmund

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.

Austin USGP track layout revealed

The track layout for the US Grand Prix, to be held in Austin, Texas, has been shown for the first time to the public. By the looks of it, the track will have huge elevation changes, a section of fast sweeping corners, as well as speeds of up to 320km/h.

A 3-D layout of the US GP track

A 3-D layout of the US GP track

A track layout for the US GP, in Austin, Texas

A track layout for the US GP, in Austin, Texas

The first corner, a 90 degree turn left, looks interesting, especially with a huge amount of elevation increase entering the corner, and then dips sharply exiting. The rest of the first section seems to be lifted from Silverstone, with a Becketts-style left-right-left-right sequence.

Another downhill short straight leads to Turn 11, a slow tight left-hander, before entering the back straight, where the cars will reach speeds of up to 200mph, then ending in a heavy braking zone.

The final sector is a series of short straights and tight corners, although it doesn’t seem to require as much downforce as one might initially suspect. Then, Turns 16, 17 and 18 are inrerconnected high-speed right-handers, with essence of Turn 8 in Turkey here. Then, a left hander, followed by a short straight then another left hander (like the final few corners in Interlagos) ends the lap.

I must say this is much more impressive than what we were expecting. Tavo Hellmund claims that there are 4 spots for overtaking, maximum elevation change of 133ft, and the track width will vary between 39 and 52ft. The venue itself should hold up to 130,000 or 140,000 people, and that the fans should be able to see most of the action around the track because of the elevation changes.

In recent years, Tilkedromes have been notorious for failing to produce exciting races, as the cars struggle to overtake. Hellmund says differently though:

“They’re so on the ragged edge that it’s hard to pass."
In his official release, he stated:
“In the modern era of Grand Prix racing, I think this track 
layout and topography will be very special. It will have many 
of the elements of previous ‘classic’ circuits combined with 
the benefits of FIA-mandated safety for the competitors and 
spectators alike. Add in the amenities fans have come to 
expect, like rare, multiple-turn viewing opportunities for 
added value, and you have an ideal, world-class venue."

“For the competitors, we’ll have all the ingredients 
necessary. You’ll see fast turns that require commitment 
from the drivers and technical turns that will test the 
engineers from a set-up point of view. We have a good deal 
of elevation to make it not only scenic but challenging 
also, and the view of downtown Austin is wonderful as 

While no official date has been set for construction to begin, it is believed that it will start in December, to be ready for its 2012 grid slot.