Challenges await US GP
The return of Fl to the United States after an absence of five years will be a major test both for the sport and for Bernie Ecclestone’s ambitions in the country, not least because a second race is scheduled for New Jersey in June 2013.
The Austin event has had something of a rocky gestation, with founder and original guiding light Tavo Hellmund falling out with his partners, and Ecclestone giving the latter a hard time when they took over the project. However a new contract was signed and the fact that the race is happening suggests that the appropriate funding is in place.
The Circuit of the Americas was inspected in September by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting. It features some dramatic gradients and fast corners which are expected to be challenging.
While the track itself is expected to get a thumbs-up, team sources say that pit and paddock facilities are basic compared with most modern venues, and the garages are on the small side.
Access remains one of the major concerns. Fans have been discouraged by a compulsory ‘park and ride’ system, as well as the prices quoted for campsite parking spots. The scarcity and cost of hotel accommodation is a problem not only for fans, but also for working visitors.
Whether the race can be a commercial success remains to be seen, but the timing is good, given the rise to prominence of Sergio Perez. The promoters are expecting a large influx of visitors from Mexico, something that can only increase next year once Perez joins McLaren.