MARCH 22, 2011
Ecclestone hits New York!
Instead of flying to the season-opening Australian GP, F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone is headed for New York City and a meeting with mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss a possible race on Staten Island.
Ecclestone has been trying to secure a race in the Big Apple for 30 years and Melbourne promoter Ron Walker denies that Ecclestone's actions are a snub to the Australian GP after mayor Robert Doyle said earlier that perhaps the benefits of the Melbourne race have run their course and it is time to move on.
"It doesn't mean to say Bernie's lost interest," Walker told Australian media ahead of this weekend's Melbourne race. "It's about business in New York. Mayor Bloomberg is pretty keen to get a race at Staten Island."
That F1 has failed to establish a proper foothold in the USA has long been a criticism by F1 marketeers, especially at the height of the recent manufacturer era. Next year of course, the US is scheduled to return to the F1 calendar with a new race in Austin, Texas.
With the F1 calendar at 20 races for the first time ever this year courtesy of the inaugural Indian GP, and Russia slated to join the schedule in 2014, another new race would put obvious pressure on existing events.
In response to criticism of the taxpayer burden of the Melbourne race, which has a contract to 2015, Ecclestone said he would be happy to talk about ending the contract early if that was what the Australians wanted. Concerns have also been expressed about the race in Valencia. Fernando Alonso's success has transformed interest in Spain but it is believed that with added pressure on the calendar, Barcelona and Valencia could be alternated in future.