Takuma Sato, Foyt, Long Beach, IndyCar, 2013

F1 possible at Long Beach – promoter

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Takuma Sato, Foyt, Long Beach, IndyCar, 2013In the round-up: IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix promoter Chris Pook says bringing F1 to the track would cost far less than widely assumed.


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Chris Pook making the rounds to promote Formula One racing in Long Beach (Orange County Register)

“He said that it would cost $9.2 million [£5.58m] to improve the current circuit to make it meet F1 standards, and those costs would be paid by the promoter. ‘People have been saying it would cost $100 million [£60.62m],’ Pook said, ‘and that number has just stuck in people’s minds. It’s not even close to that.'”

Renault and Caterham joint venture to be canned (Autocar)

“The two were set to launch lightweight two-seat sports cars under the Alpine and Caterham brands, co-developed by a joint engineering department.”

The Brave New World of Formula One (Force India)

“The race itself brought a good result – two cars in the points are an excellent way to start the season – even though there is regret for the puncture a blameless Sergio [Perez] suffered on the first lap. Hadn’t it been for that, Checo would have surely been further up the final results as he had the pace to be battling some of the rivals who finished ahead.”

Onyx programme stalled due to no support from Ford (Touring Car Times)

“The team, run by Mike Earle, the former team principal of Arena Motorsport and now Onyx Race Engineering, which bears the name of his 80s Formula One team, will have to reassess its plans which may involve working with another manufacturer or another championship.”

Bring on the noise! Controversy is F1’s currency, and Ecclestone knows that (Daily Mail)

Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker: “We are an entertainment company and we have to entertain the public. Everybody was talking about it. When you take the excitement away, you have trouble selling tickets.”


Comment of the day

As usual there were many great Caption Competition suggestions including those from Catered Ham, Nick and PhilEReid.

But I’m always impressed when someone nails it with the first response and that’s exactly what Adam Hardwick (@Fluxsource) did:

Daniel Ricciardo, 2014

I don’t really trust your meter, so I’ll pay you what I think it should cost for the journey, OK?

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Happy birthday to Cacarella, James Newnham, Tommyc and George!

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On this day in F1

Happy 38th birthday to Ricardo Zonta. He arrived in F1 driving BAR’s uncompetitive and unreliable car in 1999, and picked up a trio of points for them the following year before being dropped by the team.

He made a couple of starts for Jordan and later served as a test driver for Toyota, for who he also made a handful of race starts.

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  • 58 comments on “F1 possible at Long Beach – promoter”

    1. Glad to see some good news on Long Beach, although I’m (very) suspicious when it comes to ‘bringing a track up to F1 standards.’ Would it mean a suffocatingly enclosed Fountain section for example?

      1. From Long Beach races I’ve seen, I would expect the only major changes would be to the pit lane and paddock, and possibly the final hairpin. I don’t think the fountain would necessarily be an issue, as it seems relatively flat (or could be) up until the actual fountain itself, and corners such as the Monaco’s casino show only a small amount of Armco would be needed (especially as it is quite low speed)

      2. I think that means bussing the T-Man in to make some arbitrary changes if he sees too good a corner.

      3. On another note, the Grand Prix of Long Beach is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and I’m particularly unimpressed with starting their commercial shot with a clip showing the cars lunge down through the right-left after the old start/finish straight.

        It was a great feature and the beginning of the show just reminds me that it is not incorporated in the circuit anymore.

      4. If NJ/NY GP is not dead yet, should we expect 3 GPs in US?

        Personally I think two is OK but three is in the neighborhood of too much.

        1. Perhaps they could alternate NJ and Long Beach in the same way they usually alternate Hockenheim and Nürburgring in Germany…

    2. It sounds too good to be true. Here’s hoping we don’t have another Valencia on our hands.

    3. As a fan of Indycar goes to the Long Beach Race I hope F1 stays away & they keep it an Indycar event.

      Don’t get me wrong I love F1 but the Indycar’s at Long Beach is a great event, You can get close to the teams, drivers & paddock area. The racing’s great & its affordable which makes it a great family day out. It also has a very relaxed atmosphere, Everyone is friendly & the support events like ALMS (Now USCC), Indy Lights, The Toyota pro/celeb race & other things going on make it a great event which as i’ve said is great to take the family to.

      F1 would ruin Long beach, I don’t mean necessarily mean in terms of the circuit I mean the overall event. Its a lot more restrictive, A lot less friendly, The racing wouldn’t be as fun, It would be far more expensive & I doubt they would have the extra support events, Especially the Sportscars which is always a great event.

      1. Probably true, times have changed, egos run amok, there’s a wonderful atmosphere at Long Beach, maybe it’s a Californian thing, I find the same ‘vibe’ at Laguna Seca and what was Sears Point; but back in 1981 when Jonesy won in the Williams things were pretty much the same, and oh the SOUND of those cars, unforgettable !
        Hmm, of note only 7 finished that race,

      2. Couldn’t they have a double event one weekend? Like how GP2 and F1 race at the same venue one weekend?

        I know that might ruffle some feathers, so the IndyCar race couldn’t be billed as a support race. It would need to be promoted carefully to keep the two series equal.

        1. No chance.

          Indycar wouldn’t want to be seen as a support event & F1 wouldn’t want another top-tier open wheel category sharing the track with them anyway.

    4. So there could be three races in the US? Isn’t that a bit too much?

      1. It wasn’t way back when, there were three races some years in the eighties. Now it probably is though.

        1. Of course though I’d rather have 3 races in the US and lose Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

          1. Granted, we now have races that not many would miss. But, on the other hand, we don’t have a race in France, for example.

            1. I agree…I would love to see the Paul Ricard track brought back.

          2. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
            23rd March 2014, 2:41

            Barhain is a good race in my opinion, it is more for the political situation that people turned it down.

            1. I still don’t like the track though. I also find that the atmosphere at the track (or rather lack of it) really detracts from the TV experience too, it’s like it’s being shot in a studio. Seriously, there is only one grandstand in use every year and it’s only partially occupied, and then desert all around. Contrast that to last weekend’s Melbourne race where there were people everywhere, or even the next race in Malaysia, where there are also people all around the circuit every year.

              The political situation certainly is a very good reason not to go there, but dropping the race and replacing it with one in Long Beach would certainly not be a loss. Of course you may have a different opinion, and you’re perfectly entitled to.

            2. The return to Austria will show what’s wrong with the Bahrain track.

        2. usa is as big as europe …there are more than 3 races there , more fans though perhaps

          1. So? Antarctica is also a similar size.

            1. No one lives in Antarctica either.

      2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        23rd March 2014, 2:02

        The USA is the same size as all of Europe combined and has a similar GDP as the EU… One could argue that there’s too many European races as well then.

        1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          23rd March 2014, 7:56

          By size, I mean square miles/KM…

        2. No, one couldn’t logically argue that at all. Rolling all the countries, including plenty of weaker economies which have nothing to do with F1, into one so that you can give a comparable GDP is nonsense. And if the physical size of a place was at all important, then Australia would deserve a similar number of races.

          1. And if the physical size of a place was at all important, then Australia would deserve a similar number of races.


          2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            24th March 2014, 8:02

            @matt90 – So, would you prefer me to use the UK, Germany, etc. as individuals for this comparison? Okay, if Germany at $3.4Trillion gets one race, the USA at $15.7 Trillion should get 4 races and a GP2 for the extra half.

            My only point was that there is a HUGE (equal to all of the EU’s GDP), market that lays mostly untapped. A single race in Texas isn’t enough if you want to break into the market, especially considering Austin to Chicago is 1200mi, to New York is 1850mi and to Miami is 1400mi. With the US population spread out over the same square mileage/KM as Europe, you absolutely will need more than one race to be able to exploit that as best possible.

            Its a bit short sighted to say that Germany/UK/Spain/France/etc and USA are anywhere close to equal terms. And I don’t mean this to be a “USA #1” ego brag either. You need to consider the EU (as a whole) and USA as equals, economically speaking.

            1. @braketurnaccelerate Sorry, I thought you were talking about GDP per capita. Mainly because that makes far more sense than just GDP, as otherwise like others point out you make it difficult to justify some races just because the country is small. I don’t mind the US having 2 races. Maybe even three. But to give more than that seems unfair. Because the EU isn’t one entity. It is many countries, each with significant economies, populations, and, perhaps most importantly, diverse cultures. The economy can come into it, but it isn’t the be all and end all.

      3. There are 8 races in the European Union, which has a GDP of equal size to the US. It does a somewhat larger population than the US, but either way the US is a market which could be exploited by F1 far more. I think it is totally reasonable to have a west coast race, a central race, and a eastern race.

        1. Based on area we should then have Sochi and 5 more on Russia; based on population we should have 5 more in China; based on GDP we should leave out Monaco… We can search for numbers to justify whatever decision we would like to happen.

        2. @lord-stig you have to bear in mind though that the EU is made of several very strong economies (such as Germany, Britain and France) which are indepedant from one another: the USA is one unit so to speak. And, of course, there is the simple fact that Europe is the heartland of Formula One and likely always will be: European engines supply the entire grid, every F1 team as of now is based in Europe (mainly the UK), and a large percentage of the F1 Fanbase originates from Europe.

          It is also the home to the greatest concentration of “classic” racetracks and the source of a large fraction of the sponsorship investment – with companies such as Santander.

          Not that I have a major issue with three races in the USA, it is just at what cost that would be to the rest of the calendar. If it means the loss of yet another classic race, then I would not support it. France should have prevelance over a superfluous race in the USA.

          1. Obviously there will be more races in Europe than North America (Even as a US based fan, I don’t object to that being the case). However, you must consider that while the US is one nation, it is a very diverse and large place. It could easily support 2 or 3 races. As you point out, however, it is a give and take issue. The consensus seems to be that 20 races is the maximum, so what races should be dropped? Perhaps there should be more rotation of races so events occur on alternating years.

            Also it is an economic issue. For the teams, more US races means more US based sponsorship. Furthermore, in the US, pay TV is extremely common so if F1 expanded it’s reach, FOM count monetize the rights for a large sum. Again benefiting the teams.

        3. @lord-stig Certainly the US market should be exploited more by F1 but, for me, the issue is more than markets – it’s geographic scale. Even if the US and EU have roughly the same GDP, geographic scale makes attending one race in Austin difficult for many US fans.

          For example, to travel from where I live, Detroit, to the race in Austin requires a 1,382 mi trip. By comparison, to travel from London to Hockenheim is about 500 miles, to Spa is about 300. So Europeans, generally speaking, enjoy much greater accessibility to F1 events than we Americans do.

          @vettel1 is right – Europe is the base of F1 and should have the most races. But don’t discount what adding more races in the US could do for existing and future fans over here.

          1. For example, to travel from where I live, Detroit, to the race in Austin requires a 1,382 mi trip. By comparison, to travel from London to Hockenheim is about 500 miles, to Spa is about 300. So Europeans, generally speaking, enjoy much greater accessibility to F1 events than we Americans do.

            Yes, but those shorter flights are still international ones, which brings increased costs and hassle. It is telling that you don’t mention that you could go to Montreal if flying time is most important, as could a significant amount of the US population. I don’t think the USA’s low population density is a fair enough reason to afford it more races.

      4. Just said it above before reading your comment.

        For me two is OK, three is beyond reasonable.

    5. As a fan of Indycar – F1 can shove it, leave the race alone. The Long Beach race is a classic on the Indycar calendar and F1 cars there would be a terrible race. Its not the 60s anymore and the roads haven’t been paved since.

      1. @bcracing While I respect everyones opinion in these forums and articles, I find it a little bit rich that you take that stance on F1 Fanatic. As far as I’m concerned, if Indycar ran on the streets of Monaco, I wouldn’t care, and a lot of circuits around the world are shared without it impacting on the spectacle of other series.

        1. You’re right, and in fact IndyCar could possibly run alongside F1 – as the V8 Supercars do in Melbourne. The V8SC races are currently non-championship due to conflicting TV rights (one channel has a right to all championship rounds of the V8 Supercars, the other has the rights to the F1 and all Melbourne GP support events, so the solution is to have the V8 Supercars run as a non-championship event) although that may change as the TV rights are going back to the same channel for both series next year.

        2. @dragoll – Well said. It might be easy for some to forget that if not for F1, there likely would not be a Long Beach race with Indy Cars today.

          Chris Pook is an excellent racing promoter and though I’m not normally a big fan of street courses I would love to see F1 back at Long Beach.

    6. F1 has amazing double standards. When the Indian government decided to levy an entertainment tax, Bernie and his goons, us- the fans, and everyone else involved in F1 was quick to rebuke it by saying that it is not entertainment and instead it is simply a “sporting” event and involves the best of sport persons.
      Now with the issue of sound, Bernie himself has come forward to say that F1 is all about entertainment. To quote Ron Walker. “We are an entertainment company and we have to entertain the public”.

      1. You’re being disingenuous.

        All sports are about entertainment at the professional level. It’s not even debatable. However, F1 remains a sport, fundamentally, in comparison to rock concert promoters, for example, and thusly F1 activity in India should not be taxed as if it was a rock concert, and not professional sport.

    7. As long as the United States does not have more than one race in a season, I am okay with it. But if the States has Long Beach, New Jersey, and Texas… as a Canadian, I want more than just Montreal. I am not afraid to say it. Canada deserves more F1 Races than the States. Quebec City (historic district), Toronto (Niagara Region), Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa (Streets along the Rideau). Yes, I may be being unrealistic, but I really don’t want the States to have more than one race when Canadian fans get left in the dark.

      1. Well, Australia is almost as big as the US and Canada, so I’d like races in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin in addition to Melbourne please :P

        I guess the thing about the USA is that the population is almost 10 times that of Canada, so it’s a big market that they want to expand more into. However, I think 2 races is much more reasonable than 3 (and at this rate it seems we may never get the NJ GP anyway). In any case though I’d rather COTA was scrapped and Watkins Glen was given an overhaul, then the New York/New Jersey GP could move there and have a Long Beach race on the west coast.

        1. So much this! Particularly if The Glen’s penultimate turn was sharpened via making the preceding straight about 25-50m longer, and the final turn transformed into more of a sweeper than a simple near-90 degree right. The problem with the Glen would be the earthworks required to build a modern F1 paddock on a sloping pit straight. Achievable, but more expensive than it seems at first glance.

          Though, if you’re going to build a paddock on a hill, there’s always Elkart Lake…

        2. @vmaxmuffin. You are probably to young to remember the 1960s but back then we had the Formula Tasman series every summer, the whole F1 circus de-camped from Europe for the sunnier climes of Australia, New Zealand and sometimes RSA and we did have a race in every state, but that was then and this is now.

      2. Canada can’t complain. France hasn’t had a race for a while now, and they certainly deserve one. The entire continent of Africa doesn’t have a race. South America only has Brazil. Finland should arguably have a race too, given that they are constantly prividing good drivers, including several former champions. There are plenty of places to expand if one looks at population and culture instead of just chasing cash.

        1. As long as Ecclestone is in charge, it will always be about chasing cash instead of racing culture and fans.

      3. Having Montreal still on the calendar is amazing in itself. I still remember a few years back when Bernie was re-negotiating race fees for Montreal, and he was asking way too much (naturally), then the economic crisis hit hard and Montreal negotiating a long-term contract at a much lower fee. I think taking Montreal away would be silly since it’s the only Canadian race, it’s easy to access for a lot of the Northeast US, and drivers all seem to love the atmosphere of Montreal on a GP weekend.

        I usually fantasize about how a Grand Prix would look in Ottawa; while the Canal is very nice, I think the roads around it are too narrow for overtaking (although it would be amazing to see the cars blast through there). I’d see using the Ottawa River as more viable, and the roads in front of the Parliament buildings. I dream about it, but the sheer cost would be astonishing: paddock facilities, every single road the circuit uses would need re-paving (I’m assuming you’ve seen Ottawa roads…), the race fees, etc. and frankly, I’d be surprised if the population here would support closing down a large section of the downtown for a city race.

        Given our population size, the Montreal GP is enough. I’d rather see F1 in more parts of the world, and return to other places for another chance (I’m still disappointed that Istanbul Park is no longer on the calendar).

    8. I’m a little bit suspicious of the business model for the F1 Grand Prix of Long Beach. In addition to paying for the changes required for the track itself, the promoter will also pay the city to host the event?

      The promoters won’t charge the city a fee to conduct the race, and will reimburse the city for all expenses and pay it an administrative fee to cover indirect expenses. Pook said reports of a $25 million fee are in error.

      He added that a two-story building would be built along Shoreline Drive adjacent to the garage and pit area that would house F1 operations as well as luxury suites, and it would be donated to the city for use by other events, like the Long Beach Marathon.

      Yeah, right. What’s next, free admission for spectators?

    9. can’t wait for the long beach race would be so good, like Monaco but more up to date.

    10. The Indycar people will be in a bit of a panic over possibly losing Long Beach. Its seen as one of there premiere events (Only behind Indy), Its one of there most popular events & losing it would be a seen as a big blow.

      There’s also no chance of F1/Indycar sharing the weekend. Indycar wouldn’t want to be seen as a support series & F1 wouldn’t want to share the weekend with another top-tier open wheel category.

      Would also likely be very unpopular amongst the fans of Indycar.

    11. As a Long Beach resident and F1 fanatic, I can only dream the circus would come back here to race at the shoreline. And, as a suggestion, for those who think the current F1 engines don’t have the right noise level, they could have the upcoming Formula E as the support race….the contrast would settle the silly discussion…;)

    12. So, the Caterham-Renault joint venture is to be scrapped. Could this lead to the partnership being scrapped altogether after this season if results don’t improve on the last five seasons, I wonder. We know Fernandes won’t be sticking around if they indeed don’t improve.
      Perhaps Honda could takeover and run a B team under the name Super Aguri, say?

      I’m just purely speculating, of course, as I’m bored without F1 this weekend…

    13. I can see where Pook’s figure of only $9 million might be right. The Long Beach circuit of 2014 is a short, contrived and totally underwhelming piece of crap, so, adding a few run off areas couldn’t be that expensive.

      I would be all for a Formula 1 return to LB if the track layout mirrored the original, as seen in this 1978 lap of Long Beach courtesy of Patrick Depailler.

      The 1981 F1 season concluded with a race on a temporary circuit built on the parking lot behind Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I was there. The track was awful, the drivers hated it and so did the fans. Running F 1 on the Long Beach track configuration the Indy cars used last year would be no better. At least in Vegas, you can hit the blackjack tables between sessions.

      1. I would be all for a Formula 1 return to LB if the track layout mirrored the original

        That layout doesn’t exist anymore because things have been built over it.
        Its why the Indycar layout was changed around 2000, A lot of new buildings were built on-top of the early part of the lap.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the current circuit layout, All the drivers love it & its proven very popular with fans of Champcar/Indycar the past 14 or so years.

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