Texas promoters still hoping F1 GP will go ahead

Updated: Nov 18, 2011, 09:34 AM IST

Austin: Texas promoter Tavo Hellmund said he remains hopeful that Austin can still host next year`s planned US Grand Prix despite losing the rights to the race and the apparent support of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone said he cancelled his original contract with Hellmund`s Full Throttle Productions because of a breach of contract and may axe the race altogether.

The 81-year-old was left dealing with the track developers, Circuit of the Americas (COTA), but has since run out of patience with them, saying they had a week to agree to a new contract and pay up or he would scrap the event.

Hellmund, whose father worked with Ecclestone to put on the Mexican Grand Prix in the 1980s, said his company and the race organisers only had themselves to blame for the fallout.

"The reason we don`t have a contract with Formula One is because as a project, we have failed many times over to fulfil our financial obligations to Formula One. It`s literally that simple," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"Right now we should be praising Mr. Ecclestone. We were in breach on multiple issues as late as May. And he sent numerous requests and letters that we were all aware of how to fix it and we failed to do that."

Hellmund said the problem was caused by a rift between Full Throttle Productions and COTA. He said he tried to buy them out, but they declined, then he agreed to allow COTA to buy him out but they have not yet reached a deal.

"I don`t really want to get into the weeds about that. Let`s just say there`s been a difference of philosophy and for the good of the project I`m willing to do whatever it is for the project to go forward," he explained.

The prospects of the race going ahead as planned in November next year were fading fast with construction halted at the track after COTA officials said they wanted to see a contract, then state government officials ruling out the possibility of a public bailout.

But COTA president Steve Sexton indicated on Thursday that a 2013 startup might be a possibility and Hellmund said he was still optimistic that 2012 could be saved.

"I was encouraged today to see some news reports that the door is still open for us to be able to fix that," Hellmund said.

"And I`ve also been encouraged in recent days to see that apparently all the funding`s in place. And so with that being said I`m really optimistic and hopeful that we`re going to get this done and we`re going to have a Grand Prix next year."

Bureau Report