Three weeks to save the US GP

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United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, 2007, start, 2Tony George has given Bernie Ecclestone until July 12th to settle their deal on the 2008 United States Grand Prix.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has held the event since 2000 but it has a chequered past. The 2002 and 2005 events were spoiled by race-fixing and a mass walkout by many teams.

The circuit’s original contract expired last year and George only agreed to a one-year extension.

Ecclestone once more made disparaging remarks about the importance of the race in the run-up to the 2007 event. This is a tactic he regularly uses against Silverstone and one he turned on Sepang earlier this year.

America has a large number of other road circuits but apparently none of them are very attractive to Ecclestone .

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Three weeks to save the US GP”

  1. Well, it has to be said that if Indianapolis did not perhaps make the most of F1 being at its venue, that it was because F1 was far from making the most at being at Indianapolis. It could have been a great marketing opportunity, but remember that Tony George (along with other American race track owners) expect to have their marketing efforts supported by a series that makes it worthwhile for people to watch.

    In 2001, there was the “will we/won’t we” from certain drivers after 9/11, even though it was plain to see from the opinions coming from America that the US GP (which was two-and-a-half weeks after 9/11) that the people expected the event to occur. Although not in itself a huge problem, it didn’t help.

    Then, as Keith mentioned, there was the 2002 photo finish that went so far against American expectations of racing.

    In 2003, the stewards controversially penalised Juan Pablo Montoya. At the time, he was the crowd favourite, and this did not exactly help ticket sales in future years.

    In 2004, Juan Pablo Montoya was black-flagged after 57 laps for an incident occurring before the start. Cue more upset JPM supporters and fewer sales next year.

    After the “show didn’t go on” of 2005, things could only get better. Though JPM being sacked straight after Indy 2006 didn’t do F1’s chances in the USA many favours either.

    So every year except 2000 and 2007, the reports in the USA after the US GP would have been of things that made the USA audience upset to one extent or another. Add this to the minimal marketing from the FOM, teams or anyone else and it’s no wonder Tony George isn’t inclined to make the biggest effort to promote the race and also wants a small sum for the race. He is, after all, getting an inferior product (in the eyes of his potential customers) compared to the rest of the world.

  2. Where are all these JPM fans you speak of? You really think that hurt the ticket sales? I think you’re on crack.

    Personally I think the track layout is terrible. The straight is so long that the cars have no wing. Read Alonso’s post-race comments.

    Would prefer to see it somewhere else in the U.S.

    No matter, if they don’t return next year I’ll head to Montreal for the Canadian GP.

  3. I appreciate discussion and debate on this website but take the personal insults somewhere else. I don’t want to have to put a patronising comments warning on this website.

  4. Bernie’s right in this one. Tony George is an ass. He doesn’t make much of an effort to promote the race as he’s a little rich kid who expects everything handed to him. He started the lame Indy Racing League in an attempt to promote his Indianapolis 500 by wasting open-wheel racing on all oval tracks (trying to be NASCAR), thus harming the superior CART/Champ Car and his own IRL/reputation with the split. What’s happened? The Indianapolis 500 is head-and-shoulders the most overrated sporting event in the United States – it’s a boring flat track with no personality (it survives only on tradition) – and it’s close to losing any residual interest even from the die-hard race fans. Champ Car is gaining ground and is now getting the better TV coverage. The Indy 500 isn’t even the most important race at the track anymore – that would be NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 (and even a lesser race than the US Gran Prix); or even on the same day (again NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600). F1 is better off without the George family evil floating about and staining it.

    Which is a small shame as the road layout in the infield is quite entertaining…

  5. Whoops – sorry Keith. I didn’t read your comment before I spewed forth. I’ll restrain myself from here on out. But I do stand by my comments; the George family makes me wet myself in fury.

  6. I’m backing Alianora, he’s got a more logical explanation to the US GP situation and didn’t dieminish his remarks with personal opinion. Bernie isn’t, or in the past hasn’t, delivered much of a show. It is his circus we’re paying to see, you can complain the tent is too small or too long or too low but it BERNIE’s CIRCUS!

  7. I suppose there is one small thing in F1’s favour with regard to preserving the US GP – nobody has sacked Scott Speed or disqualified Ferrari from the results yet, so this year will probably be considered a reasonable event (with only the same gripes as are aimed at the average F1 event). That may give F1 a chance to remain at Indianapolis – and Bernie to trouser his extra cash.

    I will grant that Tony George could do more to promote the race (as could David Letterman – I understand his arguments about overkill, but even so, it would have helped F1 to have Lewis Hamilton on his show). However, even if Tony spent all his marketing money on F1, it is unlikely that Bernie or the teams would reciprocate with an increased marketing effort of their own unless forced. That is the impression given by past performance worldwide, and I think it may now be coming back to bite Bernie.

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