Formula 1 poised for Californian comeback
With two West Coast venues vying for an F1 calendar slot, the sport could go from one US GP to three in a matter of years
Long Beach, which currently hosts an IndyCar GP, has renewed its contract with the US series until 2018, but has opened up a tender process for the next promoter of the event. This gives F1 another opportunity to return to the venue it effectively launched almost 40 years ago. But a return is by no means certain, as another city in Southern California waiting in the wings.
Chris Pook, who has been leading the charge in the US on behalf of Bernie Ecclestone, said: “We asked Long Beach to go out to tender. The City Council wanted to do that but IndyCar wanted a ten-year renewal. The council said, ‘This is a serious decision, we want to do the right thing, but do it slowly. We’ll extend your contract for three years and we will go out for proposal.’”
The tender process will involve analysis of the merits of F1 and IndyCar to the city. Pook is condent F1 would win that battle but admits Long Beach might not win the war against its mystery rival. “Mr Ecclestone knows where it is and most team owners know where it is,” said Pook. “We will examine that, and if we come to an agreement – and there is a good probability we will because this particular community is very excited about it and understands the value of what it brings – then we will do a deal.”
Sources have speculated that the rival venue is the Del Mar Fairgrounds near San Diego, which hosted an IMSA race between 1987 and 1992.
The key to any decision by the City Council will be nancial. F1’s fee is signicantly higher than the $2million charged by IndyCar. Pook told F1 Racing: “People have said it would cost $100 million. It’s not even close to that.” He added “The net tax gain for Austin in 2013 was $4.9million, and the net gain for Texas was $17.2million. F1 provides new money.”
It opens up the possibility of three races in the US within ve years. Pook is also a consultant to the New Jersey GP due to make a debut in 2015.