OCTOBER 20, 2004
So where is Bernie's new race?
Bernie Ecclestone told The Times newspaper that he has to end talks over the British Grand Prix because he has to give a commitment to a new promoter, which The Times surmises to be in the United States of America. This is not a logical conclusion.
"What could I do?" Ecclestone told the paper. "I have got an offer from another country who are looking to build a lovely venue and invest a lot of money in Formula 1 - and they will pay the going rate. I have to give them a year's notice to go ahead. If I miss that because I am still messing about with the BRDC, I would be keeping out a country that desperately wants to be in the Formula 1 World Championship."
This does not sound like America as it is already involved in the World Championship. It could be Mexico, which has been talking about F1 for some time. It is unlikely to be anywhere else in South America as there is not the kind of money knocking around except in Brazil where Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are once again squabbling over the Brazilian GP.
The Times postulates that the alternative venue might be Long Beach or New York.
Neither seems to be very likely. Long Beach does not need to build a circuit and has never had the money to pay the going rate for modern F1. If Champ Cars disappears the race will switch to the Indy Racing League. New York is an option with Ecclestone having mentioned last summer that he has been talking to the city about an event but it is hard to imagine that a race will take place unless Bernie has stumbled on a billionaire, like Indianapolis's Tony George, who is willing to invest his won money in a race. The only man who might do it is Don Panoz, the owner of Road Atlanta, but he has shown no signs of interest in F1 in recent years.
There may be Indians, Russians and the like interested in hosting races "at the going rate" but everyone in F1 knows that putting together a Formula 1 track is not the work of a moment and so the suggestion that the British GP must go because Bernie has to give a commitment in the short-term seems decidedly unlikely.
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