JANUARY 2, 2006
Rumblings from the circuits
The news over the Christmas holidays that Hockenheim is struggling to avoid bankruptcy has led to murmurs of discontent amongst the F1 circuits around the world. They are being forced to pay around $15m a year in fees to Formula One Management for the races and this means that it is becoming harder and harder to make ends meet as many of the contracts include a 10% increase in fees each year.
A number of the circuits are struggling to make ends meet and are turning to new ideas to try to raise cash, including the American concept of selling the naming rights to the tracks. Spa tried to sell its corner names 15 years ago but no-one paid any attention and continued to use the normal names and the programme eventually disappeared. In the United States, however, Charlotte is no regularly referred to as Lowe's Motor Speedway, while Laguna Seca has a naming rights deal with Mazda and Sears Point has a similar deal with Infineon.
Naming rights deals for US stadiums can run to many millions of dollars but there is a feeling in Europe that we are more likely to see circuits banding together to stop FOM rather than trying to survive by selling off everything.
Some circuits do not have the possibility to sell their names, unless of course the city of Melbourne is willing to rename Albert Park.
There would inevitably be opposition to this from the Save Albert Park movement.
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