Jersey off? Turkey to return?

The Grand Prix of America, scheduled to take place on a street circuit on the shores of the River Hudson in New York, looks set to be delayed a year because of construction delays and permit problems. There have been rumours along these lines for some time, but there is no question about the desire to have the race happen as soon as possible.

If the news is confirmed later today, it will create a gap in the F1 calendar between the June 9 race in Montreal and the British GP on June 30. There have been suggestions in recent months that Turkey may be on standby in case of a cancellation in the US. If this is indeed the case the best option would probably be to put the Turkish GP back on the calendar on June 23 and move the British GP back a week so that it is back-to-back with Germany. This would reduce the travel problems that Turkey creates, not only in relation to the distance, but also the dangers that exist in some of the countries that need to be traversed. In the past the F1 trucks generally went by boat from Italy to Greece to avoid trouble.

89 thoughts on “Jersey off? Turkey to return?

    1. the race is on public streets meaning merchants would have to shut down for at least a week. sounds like the compensation for that loss could not be agreed-upon in time.

      plus, I have driven those streets and they are all crowned. all would have to be repaved in time for the race.

      Giant headaches all-around.

      1. There’s one Mexican restaurant on the route and Rey would certainly not be shutting down with their view of the circuit!!

        And a week is way off. Four days max but they may be able to stay open anyway.

  1. Europeans laugh at American’s general distrust of government, but this is exactly why we don’t trust it, a Grand Prix in nj/ny metro area is ENORMOUS, and it’s at risk of not happening because of bureaucrats and red tape that exists for the sake of red tape. NJ is ranked almost last for ease of doing business, owning a car, owning a home, etc. it’s a cesspool of invasive regulations that scare off all but the most intrepid…

    1. As an American, I have to point out to any Europeans (and other non-Americans) reading the above blog post that it’s the usual right-wing, reactionary agitprop one hears here in the US twenty-four hours a day non-stop.

      I don’t know what part “permit problems” are actually playing in this delay but I’d look at the usual other issues first before blaming supposed onerous government bureaucracy – lack of financing, lack of support for F1 in the US, plus the usual Ecclestone-related issues.

      1. You’re absolutely right.

        Right wing nuts try to blame everything on the government. Even when, as in this case, there is absolutely no evidence of government interference or red tape.

        In sharp contrast to those wacky theories, there is substantial evidence that the event organizers (private industry) completely screwed this up by not coming up with the money.

        No surprises, no conspiracies, no government red tape. Just typical private industry rich guys who reneged on their contractual commitments. I just hope they don’t sucker the New Jersey taxpayers into funding this.

        1. We can only look to the evidence.

          There’s lots of evidence that the US organizers failed to pay the bills. Bernie has repeatedly made this point. He even said the contracts were torn up because of the absence of payment. Other sources have confirmed that the very wealthy US organizers have failed to own up to their contractual commitments. They’ve failed to come up with the money they promised.

          As for other explanations, there is absolutely no evidence of any other problem, red tape or otherwise. None at all, it’s just wild conjecture from a few forum posters.

          Evidence versus wild speculation. I’ll go with the evidence, which strongly suggests the entire reason for the postponement is that the very wealthy New Jersey event organizers decided they didn’t want to pay their bills. Case closed.

    2. The race hasn’t been pushed back because of red tape or government interference. Just the opposite, it’s been pushed back by wealthy people that seem to want a government handout. The truth is that it’s hugely easier to do business in New Jersey than in a great many of the countries F1 visits. You can start a business in a single afternoon in Jersey, just as you can in any US state. Try doing that in India.

      No, the reason the Jersey race has been postponed seems very simple, Money – or the lack thereof. If these ambitious developers had the cash now, one expects they’d be on the race schedule now.

      It’s almost a cliche for massively wealthy real estate developers to have almost no cash at any given time. They have tremendous paper assets but all of it tied up in property, property that is leveraged to the hilt. To pay for the development of this track, they’d likely have to deleverage (sell) some assets. They probably don’t want to do that.

      At a guess, they’re waiting for a handout, either from the New Jersey government, Bernie, or some sponsor. It’s extremely doubtful they’ll get any taxpayer dollars, it’s even more doubtful that Bernie will give them the price cut they’d need.

      This race seems to have one foot firmly in the grave and the other leaning in. If these developers decide to spend the money they’ve promised, the race could certainly go forward – but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

    3. Wheres Tony Soprano when you need him? How could a GP possibly be bad for Business in NJ, does Mitt Romney have to remind everyone they need jobs, jobs, jobs?

  2. Not so much of a surprise in light of the rumours over recent weeks and even months, but disappointing, especially if Turkey is called up to replace. Make it easy on yourself, Bernie, and do the decent thing – give a race back to Imola!

  3. Wasn’t the British GP moved forward a week to avoid clashing with the Wimbledon finals? I don’t suppose there are a lot of people like me who want to watch both but it must cause problems with the TV schedules.

    Wouldn’t a British / French double-header make more sense? Or is there too much work necessary at Magny Cours or Paul Rickard for that to be viable?

    1. That was my understanding too. Wimbledon and F1 have clashed before, but moving the British GP date to June 30th for 2013 made me think that it did indeed have more of an impact on viewing figures than previous years (agree that Andy Murray’s run to the final would have helped this in UK). French GP does seem a good idea but there appears to be a logjam over the whole thing since the change in Government. Turkey is mooted because Bernie owns the circuit so to put a race on there as a replacement scores quite highly in the convenience stakes.

  4. ‘trouble’ – not sure that’s a valid concern, romania and bulgaria are both in the EU and Serbia is busily aligning its regs too, you can drive there with your UK paper licence and it’s automatically included on most UK insurance policies too.
    if it’s security they are paranoid about then they ought to avoid Greece

    1. Oh indeed avoid Greece at all costs, Egnatia highway which takes you all the way from the ferry to Turkish border in less than 8 hours is like a war zone these days. Right…

    1. Istanbul Park is a better track, up to date with FIA standards, and most importantly Turkey is (possibly) ready to pay Bernie his outrage fee, no questions asked.

  5. Assuming, of course, that Syria doesn’t launch a full blown assault on Turkey…

    That may be quite a big assumption.

    1. Well, assuming you know your Turkish geography, that would be a bit akin to worrying that the Highland Games might be called off if the Isle of Wight decided to invade the mainland…

        1. The Syrian government can’t control a rebellion, they’d be mad to even consider attacking Turkey and if they did would very quickly find themselves on the wrong end of a lot of firepower, both Turkish and NATO.

          The only risk would be if Syria decided to try and gain some propaganda by launching the attack to coincide with the race but I seriously don’t consider that to be an issue.

          As for the insurance issue, what about Bahrain? They went there where there was a known risk, never mind a theoretical one.

          It would be an interesting stand-in, but personally I feel somewhere a bit more convenient for the teams would be preferable, less travelling and give somewhere that’s not had a race for a while a chance.

          How about a Silverstone and Brands Hatch double header? 🙂

          1. Yes, I certainly agree it would be very ill-advised, but history of course is littered with leaders who did mad things… :-/ but yes, brands hatch would be very nice…

            … or perhaps we could revive the London GP idea for the third time this year 😀

      1. It’s more about the companies being unable to get any insurance should there be even the slightly risk of a military conflict or terrorist attack.

        1. Insurance plans are likely to be tied to official government policies from one or several major “western” powers.

          For reference the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office is listing Turkey as “Avoid all unnecessary travel to part(s) of this country” mentioning both the Syrian border friction and internal terrorist attacks in one of the west-central regions – though the map also indicates a risk along the Turkey-Iraq border.

          For the record : Tunceli, the nearest indicated risk area, is over 1000 km by road from the track

  6. “…..and permit problems.”

    Apparently the correct amount of gratuities have not as yet been sent to the key personnel in granting said permits. It’s NY/NJ people, pay the baksheesh and move it along!

  7. I wouldn’t think they would put a race on the 23rd because the FIA asked the ACO to move Le Mans so it wouldn’t clash.

  8. Having lived for almost 30 years in this part of the world–NY/NJ–I have to say I am not surprised. The fact is,I know several people who live along the route of the planned race course in NJ and also teach at a nearby university. The first my friends had ever heard of the race was when Red Bull showed up with it’s car for the promotional film. There may indeed be problems with the corrupt bureaucracy but when the general public finds out what is about to happen to their neighborhood there may be be even bigger problems. A determined opposition from the residents could end the whole thing. Check into the history of the Westway project or the west side football stadium in NYC.

    As for my students, I haven’t yet had one who has heard anything about this race.

    None of this is conclusive evidence of anything but it is curious. Considering how much work is going to be needed to get those roads and that area ready for an F1 race, it is strange that so little effort has been made to inform the locals of what is coming.

    I’ve seen this kind of thing before in NJ. A big project is announced, committees and corporations are formed, politicians promote it and then after awhile it just disappears.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hope it does go in 2014 and is successful. I will have great seats at three different points along the way! But I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Yes I think you pretty much have the correct idea about this here. I’m a Staten Island resident and huge F1 fan and would like nothing more to see this happen, but I have serious doubts. This is just strengthening those.

    2. >>A determined opposition from the residents could end the whole thing. Check into the history of the Westway project or the west side football stadium in NYC.<<
      Even more relevantly, see the history of the proposed Grand Prix at Liberty State Park (Jersey City) hardly two years ago. F1 has already gone down in NJ exactly as you've described. And how about NASCAR's Staten Island bid few years earlier, and the public hearing for that; OMG, what a lynch mob.
      The urban US Northeast can be very unfriendly territory for motor racing ("otto racing," to use the vernacular), and I was stunned and gratified when IndyCar landed its Baltimore Grand Prix. If Bernie and co. bring off this one, I'll speak only reverently of him ever after.

  9. My “opinion”.

    Being stateside and with knowledge of local politics. It appears to me “someone” does not want this race to happen. Road permits aside if the governor of NJ really wants this race it can be done in time.

    1. Actually, there’s been no evidence of government rad tape, but lots of evidence of undelivered payments by the wealthy developers backing this event.

      One might suppose that the developers pitched the race with hopes that the New Jersey government would pay for a lot of the development. Perhaps they also believed that Bernie’s desire for a race near NYC would diminish his fee demands as the race date neared.

      It’s easy to surmise that the developers guessed wrong twice and now don’t want to put up their own cash to develop their own race. The only way the government seems to have blocked this race was by not wasting taxpayer dollars on it.

  10. not uncle andy – not everyone working in F1 is white and the events surrounding the u21 england game revealed interesting feelings amongst the people of Serbia for non whites.

    1. Typical English bigotry. Say what you want about the Serbs but they don’t send their military around the world bombing Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis and others who make the mistake of getting bad press in the US/UK. It never ceases to amaze me how the people of my native country believe everything the media tell them and how they lack the ability to see themselves as others see them.

      1. Stupid comment. I am simply telling you what the teams think. If you wish to rant and rave about things that happened 20 years ago, do it somewhere else.

  11. Gee, as a New Yorker I was so looking forward to taking a train and a ferry to have Bernie pick my pocket in 2013. Now I will have to go to Montreal, not that I am is my favorite European city But as others have pointed out, New Jersey is a tough place to open a business and its corruption is exceeded only by Louisiana and Illinois. But hopefully it is only a one year setback, F1 is a minor sport here and auto racing isn’t high on New Yorkers list of favorite sports. Butgiven time and proper leadership, it could become a niche sport that becomes an event like the “New York City Marathon” or the “U S Open tennis in Forest Hills, home of the Ramones”

    1. F1 is not just about the locals as it was hardly reliant on the city of Indianapolis for attendance. To give you an example Brits could fly to Indy visit the states and make a holiday out of the GP by applying the difference between Silverstone tickets and some extra pounds, this combined wth South Americans amonst others combining this with a visit to iconic New York is a no brainer.

      Every overpaid Wall streeter amongst the other upwardly mobile in Americas largest business city will be there to see or be seen. Possibly the best fit for F1 worldwide if you consider disposable income, corporate entertainment and exposure for celebs and all hangers on.

      Thge politicians need to get the vlead out, pronto!!

      1. Surely there is only one F1 spy? Though he has been keeping a low profile of late – how is The Mole keeping?…

  12. Ah yes….the old “permit problems” aka Mr. or Ms. politicians needs more juice if you know what I mean. Oh and hey….nothing gets done in the NY/NJ area without unions….so wait till they actually get these “permit problems” resolved, we still have ways to go.

    Sector 1…permit problems. Ideal setup for this sector, greasy, slick tires, low-downforce, finesse, lots of lubrication. Sector 2….unions. Ideal setup for this sector, steamrollers. Sector 3….Bernie. Ideal setup for this sector…armored vans with stacks and stacks of cash.

  13. OXO

    Are Serbia and Bulgaria that dangerous? Got any stories? 😉


    I do not know about Bulgaria, but Serbbia is safe 100% for all teams.
    There is expectation that any of truck passing by will be welcomed and offered a dring or lunch.
    Certainly not exist any problem in Serbia.

    I doubt Bulgaria also.

      1. Italian and Spanish football supporters have been repeatedly accused of similar things yet the entire F1 circus still happily spends a week or more in each country every year.

        Though I admit to being totally unaware of this “trouble” Mr Saward refers to and what it might entail.

    1. ‘Certainly not exist any problem in Serbia. Serbia is safe100% for all teams’.

      Just not football teams, then? There will certainly be members of the F1 circus who would be targetted by the extraordinarily racist Serbs.

      1. On the other hand, two guys I have known a fair while, who were born in Belgrade, one in the 60s, the other in the 70s, have been incredibly placid friends. One of the two always seems close to politics there, the other a living cynical parody of politics in general, but both consistently fail to come across as having a temperament. Okay, perpetually grumpy might fit . .But I’m talking about the relatively lucky in life, and claim no representation from my accidental sample.

        I think it comes down to a more universal risk factor: take a little incomplete understanding of history, add a injudicious beer, or other rashness, and you can spark off almost any place anywhere. There may be more ways to spark a argument in Serbia and the surrounding regions, than other places, but I fail to see quite how F1 could get their nose stuck into the sensitive arguments accidentally.

        I’m confused, again . . did not Stefan GP go quietly into the never ending night of racing rumor rubbish long ago? How so is F1 considered in he same breath as soccer matches, which always have a tinge of jingoism, even at the highest international levels? The only contention I could see is how much needs to be developed there using central / state financing, that tapping that for a GP would likely annoy every political persuasion.

        I’m not blind to some of the politics thataway, Montenegro elections comes to mind as a potential argument. I just don’t make one plus one = three and a dangerous place to hold a race. Or, for that matter, know how the subject arose .. oh, yeah, soccer .. my favorite sport. Racialist behaviour seems to be all too prominent at home here in Blighty recently, as well 😦

  14. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect; if you watched the TV series The Sopranos then you have a possible idea of what some of the delays involve.
    Happy Friday.

  15. Hi Joe,

    Even though the race is off does the promoter still need to pay any fees? As I am sure Mr E and CVC still want to be paid!

  16. Joe I have heard that very recently the Istanbul circuit was rented for a long time to a company on very favourable terms (around 1,5 euros per year), seems like the got really lucky, right?

  17. What about a French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, the circuit is ready and as we know from Korea having a crowd to watch it at the circuit is not important.

  18. Just a shame that so many other brilliant tracks in North America/Canada that could fill the void – and most likely provide more interesting racing than a Valencia style street circuit.
    Roa America, Mosport, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, VIR, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Daytona Road Course

    Alas – Even if they were already F1 spec safety- I’m sure they’d find a reason why each and every one would required a $300 mil donation to Herman Tilke before being used.

  19. I hate to say I told you so but…

    I told you so.

    Nobody around here gives a shit about F1, or at least certainly not enough for the chaos a race would cause for the locals to be justified. Formula 1 is some sort of baby milk, right?

    It’s not like NYC needs publicity. This is not like China or wherever where the government can just conjure up a track at will, local opinion be damned.

    I’ll stick with my original opinion on an F1 race in NJ – I’ll believe it when I see it.

      1. For those that know the area, as opposed to Googling it from France, the idea of a NJ GP seemed a stretch from the get go.

        There is a reason why the new racetracks are being build on swamps and wastelands in Asia, or in the desert.

        Can you imagine the meetings with locals?!
        Formula What?
        Oh, cars! Are GM and Ford doing well in it?
        Huh? How about the American drivers?
        Not one?!
        Why here then? It’s a bunch of foreigners.

        I’d like the race to go ahead, but I’m not holding my breath.

        1. Just for a joke, but the circumference of Victoria Park, which I overlook, just before the olympic sprawl, is just about 3 miles. (Nice run for a gentle 10k, pleasant not aggressive elevations) Had they considered trimming the park boundary, could have made a very picturesque track!

          For all the Tony Soprano references I hear above, I actually think anything to do in our borough, or even close to it – Tower Hamlets – is considered even more no go by Bernie than NJ. I think he recently said something like “no way down there” to the idea . .

          This is a authority who seem happy to support the denial that a current valid passport is legitimate ID, who ignore serious factual proofs of criminal violations of building safety code, even after fires have endangered life, who woke and disturbed my mom, who turned 81 Saturday with heavy hammering on our door, claiming they should be able to demand some signature that we are registered to vote . . and leave hanging menaces when told to git go. hey were not banging on other doors, or we would have heard . . mom sufficiently disturbed i reported to police, to get a reference, to apply under FOIA to ask what is going on . .

          I guess, in a similar way to you, I have been sceptical in the extreme of any idea of a London GP down the east side of our town. You get to see things up close that are never going to be written about in almost any media.

          I only just imagined a track around the park. You could fit one inside the tree lines. They just ripped the place to shreds on some pseudo olympic spend the budget excuse, result ill defined, though if I was 5 again, the new playground would look pretty cool.

          The problem is, and I do allow myself a little fantasy, you’d never get past the vested interests here. The operative google search is usually “LBTH + corruption” (London Borough of Tower Hamlets – it’s a huge place) and I cannot imagine any buy – in. Bernie seems to be saying “Central London, or nothing”, well, that would be Westminster Council. Although much changed, that’s not ever been much of a residential area. When I lived there, there were just 180,000 residents, and it’s a fairly big area also. The blessing was the lowest tax in the country. And no shops, coffee houses or convenience stores until very recently. . . but whether it’s a no man’s land or not this day, it decidedly has a absentee population at the weekends, and therefore is likely more easily dealt with.

          Anyhow, my point is that maybe NJ is easier to solve than where I live. I’ll not wager, but our “manor” is so supine and supplicant, as to the whole perversion of it all, I’d take a shot at making a race in NJ over here in my yard any day, foolhardy though you may think that.

          There’s something fundamentally wrong, how tracks are brought in. BE seems to just want to pool he can play divide and rule with, so maintain high fees. Maybe he needs to, because local states wise up to the costs. This to my view is the plain opposite of what we need to establish a venue that can grow a racing culture. But if we actually could try that, why not NJ? I am not really sure, compared wit the effort Austin seems to be making. I’d settle happily for one serious venue in the USA. It just feels all wrong, whilst we walk away from tracks that need no introduction or impromptu marketing, Imola, cough, splutter . .

          1. Tower Hamlets turns up in almost every edition of Private Eye. Which tells you all you need to know about the place really.

    1. Yeah you’re right New York is just busting at the seems with commerce at the moment, not a hotel room available, restaurants and theatres at capacity, sky rocketing real estate prices, Wall street printing money, and a labour shortage due to all this unprecedented growth. Mayor Bloomberg would be lynched if he disrupted all this with a piddly quater billion dollar F1 event.

      Spoiler alert, the race is not in New Jersey because the world is beating a path to scenic New Jersey (although it’s right up there with Paris or Florence Italy in grandeur) it’s NYC itself thats the backdrop and attraction which will host worldwide visitors with serious disposable income.

      This event has nothing to do with racing and everything to do with the economic impact of a quarter billion dollar event which also provides legacy benefits to tourism. Governor Chris Christie rightly will make sure NJ will get their piece of the pie as we all know how much he appreciates pie.

      They would host a sack race if it brought a quarter billion dollars, you may not have noticed but there seems to be a couple of guys on TV quite a bit at the moment that seem a little preoccupied with unemployment and a stalled economy.

      1. “Governor Chris Christie rightly will make sure NJ will get their piece of the pie as we all know how much he appreciates pie.”

        How? As you say, surely everyone with cash to spend it on the other side of the river? And all the broadcasters’ pre-race features would surely be all shot in Manhattan, too?

          1. It’s business and the business people behind the proposal know NYC somehow is going to have to contribute, so Mayor Bloomberg is going to have to encourage a private money consortium of the benefactors to contribute to The NJ venue so there is a benefit to NJ for providing the venue.

  20. I feel sorry for NJ, it seems to have potential to be great circuit, a very special street circuit, way better than those where they race now, judging for the plan you posted some time ago. Istambul Park is one of the few Tilke’s interesting circuits and, probaly the best option all consider, availabilty, financing (regardless of what sort of deal is arranged), etc. It puts some logistic issues, however we’re talking of the top of motorsoprt, FOM will sort that off if it needs.

  21. The last line of a short piece in the New York Times reads: “The race organizers have been working on the logistics of staging a 3.2-mile race along the street course and also on locating investors to help pay for it.”

    I would say the challenge of locating investors is just as daunting as the logistical issues. It’s largely taken as a matter of faith on this blog that Grand Prix races, since they don’t pay for themselves in terms of ticket sales, are best funded by governments in search of enhanced image and/or increased tourism. Which is a problem because New York City doesn’t need an image boost, and it wouldn’t help anyway since the race is in New Jersey. And the governor of New Jersey is Merkel-esque when it comes to austerity and reduced government spending, so there is no way New Jersey is participating on any meaningful level. The municipalities of Weehawken and West New York are both tiny and cash-strapped, so they can’t really help. And most of the tourism dollars will be spent in NYC, not in New Jersey, so that further muddles one of the primary rationales for staging the thing in the first place.

    As far as the racetrack is concerned, building the thing is the easy part (relatively speaking). The hard part, one might argue, would be the massive infrastructure modifications required to manage the hundred thousand or so people on a race weekend. They can’t all take the ferry and this is not an easy place to get to by car. The race weekend traffic jam would literally close the Lincoln Tunnel. And that, I can promise you, is never going to happen. Resolving the traffic, if it is even possible, would be a hugely expensive component of the project, and one that even Bernie, with offers of reduced fees, can’t help solve.

    All of which leaves race organizer Leo Hindery Jr., who is legitimately loaded (to the tune of a billion-plus), footing the bill. And although he owns a good bit of waterside property that might, someday, benefit from this kind of exposure, is he willing to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into that particular marketing scheme? Or the unbelievable hassles and headaches from the inevitable lawsuits? I doubt it. Wait til the average Weehawken native finds out how loud a Formula 1 car is. Even with their tiny new motors. I can’t help but smile.

    Despite my personal fantasies about being able to take a ferry across the Hudson to attend an F1 race, this GP has never made any financial sense. It was a non-starter from the beginning. I was amazed it ever got as far as getting on the schedule, asterisk or no.

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