USA flag, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

COTA suffering “blow after blow” with US GP cancellation

2020 F1 season

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The chairman of the Circuit of the Americas says the cancellation of its Formula 1 round, which promised strong ticket sales this year, is the latest in a series of blows for the venue.

The world championship confirmed last week the United States Grand Prix will not go ahead as planned following the cancellation of all its races in the Americas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s been kind of a tough blow after blow the way this year has kind of come together,” Epstein told the Speed City podcast. F1 has joined IndyCar and Moto GP in cancelling races at the circuit near Austin, Texas this year.

Epstein said F1’s cancellation “was no surprise” for him following conversations with Formula 1’s chairman and CEO Chase Carey.

“When I saw Chase in February and he was talking about the Chinese Grand Prix being potentially postponed at that time, we talked about what happens if it spreads and could this be a tough year all around? And sure enough that’s obviously what happened. But we kind of knew a couple months ago this is pretty likely.”

The race promoters had taken more deposits for ticket sales this year than in any season since COTA’s inaugural grand prix in 2012. “This was the closest thing we had to that,” said Epstein.

“We had people putting down deposits, we were up almost 300% actually in terms of people who said ‘I want to get my seats next year, I don’t want to take a chance on missing out’. So we certainly were excited about what the numbers were going to be for this year.”

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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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18 comments on “COTA suffering “blow after blow” with US GP cancellation”

  1. Probably just me, but selling tickets for a massive event like this during a pandemic (and in a hotspot like Texas) doesn’t seem like the smartest idea.

    1. All that money from the deposits, sales accrues interest wherever they hold all that money. They make money even if they have to refund the original deposit amount. Yes it’s a fraction of what they would gave made but it can help pay part of staff salary or other expenses. Thats why many people don’t see the refund until the very last moment.

    2. You realize these tickets go on sale almost a full year before the event?

  2. Sorry Texas your state right now 440,000 cases of COVID19. Just yesterday just over 20,000 people presented new cases of the virus. Those are facts.
    F1 is a game played by the rich for our enjoyment. It’s sole purpose to make money. Lots of money.
    What gets me is this pursuit of Money grabbing. Austin through F1, wants a race so money can be earned during a time of a world crisis.
    By the time the sun rises again over 20,000 MORE TEXANS will have the virus.
    When the organization behind the event seeks profit in the face of Covid is embarrassing. What is wrong with them?

    This is about Formula One at a time where it’s too dangerous for humans to witness A race in person. In America you don’t really know if the next race fan you see will bring sickness to you and others.
    Yeah negative comments but certainly real comments about what fans of F1 face at present time. I will just stay home. I’d like to think someday F1 can return to F1 as we know it.

    1. What gets me is this pursuit of Money grabbing. Austin through F1, wants a race so money can be earned during a time of a world crisis.

      The City of Austin has not tried to push this race through. Austin hasn’t had a major event in 2020. SXSW was one of the first major events cancelled in the U.S., at the direction of City officials. We could all see the writing on the wall then, re: F1, MotoGP, ACL Fest, and more…

      If anyone would like to make a money grab, it would be COTA. That’s their M.O.

    2. You didn’t actually read the article, did you?

    3. Or to put it another way 1.5% of the population of Texas

      1. Sorry my mistake 1.1% of the population of Texas currently has the virus

        1. My story reflects the issue of Covid and the numbers are intended to speak of the complexity of racing in one of the most dangerous place in the world tonight. No USGP. Maybe you don’t think it’s a very serious situation in the USA. So go ahead and make fun of the percentages. Doesn’t change the fact 1,000 Americans die every day from covid. And Texas is spinning out of control. How could F1 even consider it. We want F1 races to happen here again but right now it’s too damn dangerous.

          1. I am not making fun of the percentages. You are just being misleading about the numbers. These are the latest figures I could find with regards to C19 in Texas:

            403,307 people have been diagnosed with C19, of these 251,346 have recovered, 6,190 have regrettably died. Saying it is too damn dangerous, and one of the most dangerous places in the world is bordering on the histrionic.

            To put the numbers into some kind of context, in a supermarket you would have to walk past over 250 people before you found someone who had C19. I mean what level of risk is acceptable to you?

            What the knock on affects on the local economy will be and the health issues with people being out of work or not being able to afford medical cover is almost impossible to quantify.

            And lets not kid ourselves C19 or a variant thereof will be around for quite sometime, so unless you are willing to live in a bubble there is not much that can be done

  3. I’m hopeful that next year’s race will be just as popular.

    As much as people give F1 a hard time for getting back to racing relatively early, when incredibly strict distancing, “bubble” management, and extremely frequent testing is necessary I DO believe it has been to F1’s benefit. I have a buddy in Dallas, TX who started watching—and has been hooked—because other sports weren’t available to watch yet. He watched Drive to Survive on a boredom lark and ended up binge watching both seasons and has watched qualy and races, texting me constantly about how awesome the season has been.

    Admittedly, he was a prime candidate. He has a friend in me who is obsessed and he is also accustomed to watching european sports at odd hours thanks to his love for Premier League Football. But if one person has done this, then I think it is safe to assume others have as well. May all the new fans live within traveling distance of a race track and have the budgets to buy race tickest next year!

  4. After the USGP cancellation, reports said USGP ticket sales had been up 250% before COVID hit. We knew that was a weird thing to say, since tickets had never gone on sale — so how could they have been selling so well? During the radio show Epstein backtracked and admitted that tickets never went on sale in the first place.

    Then he claimed that when MotoGP was cancelled, COTA had already spent millions on temporary grandstand rentals for the event. The problem with that is that for MotoGP they have always used their base grandstand layout with no extra grandstands being brought in, and they’ve never filled them up, even in that configuration. He also claimed the circuit employs 250 people full time. Hmm …

    Seems like he’s angling for more government handouts or a bailout.

  5. Andrew Redpath
    29th July 2020, 15:26

    “Blow after blow” says Epstein. Where have I heard that before…

  6. The article didn’t state who this Epstein fella is. For all I know it could be Jeffery Epstein back from the dead. ( it attempted to introduce him in the frist paragraph then mentioned his name in the third).

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      29th July 2020, 19:59

      The article starts with “The chairman of the Circuit of the Americas says”.

  7. After the USGP cancellation, reports said USGP ticket sales had been up 250% before COVID hit. We knew that was a weird thing to say, because tickets had never gone on sale — so how could they have been selling so well? During the radio show Epstein backtracked and admitted that tickets never went on sale in the first place.

    Then he claimed that when MotoGP was cancelled, COTA had already spent millions on temporary grandstand rentals for the event. The problem with that is that for MotoGP they have always used their base grandstand layout with no extra grandstands being brought in, and they’ve never filled them up, even in that configuration. He also claimed the circuit employs 250 people full time. Hmm …

    Seems like he’s angling for more government handouts or a bailout.

  8. Damn shame, Austin’s a music city too, and those folks have been hit hard.

  9. COTA has done a huge amount for Austin over the years- the only event that has done more there for Austin is South by Southwest; so COTA isn’t going anywhere. But quite honestly the situation in Texas is really bad, made worse by a totally incompetent and inactive state administration in Austin and by the US federal government’s incompetence and inaction. I live up near Washington DC and although we have seen an increase in cases it’s not nearly as bad as it is in Texas, Florida, Arizona and California.

    But once this is all over and the US GP or any other event returns there everyone should go there. COTA is a fabulous facility where you don’t need grandstand tickets, unlike Montreal (a great city in its own right) where you do need expensive grandstand tickets which are often sold out.

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