US Grand Prix likely to remain in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Organizers of the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix are set to announce the race will run in 2016 after months of speculation that financial troubles could force it off the calendar, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The Circuit of the Americas, which hosts the race near Austin, scheduled a Wednesday news conference.
Track representatives have told local officials it will include announcing the U.S. Grand Prix will race, according to a government employee with direct of knowledge of the conversation.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the official announcement.
The U.S. Grand Prix had been scheduled for Oct. 23 on Formula One’s calendar with an asterisk “subject to confirmation” of an agreement between F1 and race promoters.
The first race of the Formula One season is the Australian Grand Prix on March 20.
Financial terms between the track and F1 were not immediately known.
In previous years, track officials said they were promised $25 million per year for 10 years from the state’s portion of the Major Events Trust Fund, public money spent largely to pay Formula One’s commercial management for the right to hold the race.
But control of the fund was transferred to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office last year, and the future of the race was thrown into doubt when the state slashed nearly $6 million from the race.
Race officials also said low attendance because of bad weather had been financially devastating.Despite those setbacks, Circuit of the Americas officials had said they were hopeful the race could still run in 2016 and Formula One’s commercial boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had predicted the race would continue.
The track also got a financial boost in February when it reached a settlement with local officials to drastically reduce its property tax appraisals, saving more than $10 million by some estimates.Losing the race would have been a blow to Formula One’s efforts to expand in the American market.
Formula One didn’t race in the U.S. from 2008-2011 and its return to a specialized facility was seen as a major move to gain a long-term foothold in a country where NASCAR is the most popular motor series by far. And the 2016 season will include Haas F1, the first American-led team on the grid in 30 years.
The race has enjoyed a prominent late-season place on the Formula One calendar, which has made it an important stop in the season championship.
The races in 2012, 2014 and 2015 all played key roles in the title chase. Lewis Hamilton’s victory last year wrapped up his third Formula One season championship.