28 February 2011
Valencia not looking to 'redo' F1 deal
There is nothing behind rumours of late payments and contract renegotiations according to organisers of the European GP in Valencia.
European Grand Prix organisers have played down suggestions that they are looking for a better deal from FOM supremo Bernie Ecclestone, despite rumours late last year that they were preparing to ditch the event altogether.
Ecclestone has already refused to allow the race to disappear quietly from the calendar, despite the Valencia street circuit not finding universal favour with either drivers or fans, and, while the organisers have talked about moving to another location, they deny suggestions that they are trying to ease their financial pressure by renegotiating improved terms for the remaining two years of the current deal.
Salvador Servia, director at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, poured oil on the fire last week by suggesting that the European GP had yet to pay its sanctioning fee to Ecclestone, but local government ministers in Valencia insisted that the speculation over a hold-out was due to the desire for a new deal was misguided.
"The government, at this time, has not proposed to change any of the obligations we have with the organisation of F1," Gerardo Camps, who supported the bid to bring F1 to Valencia for more than testing, claimed.
It was first reported last November that Valencia was considering trying to get out of its deal with Ecclestone, after spectator numbers at the race - which takes place around the former Americas Cup port - fell by 25 per cent over the first three years of the event. National newspaper El Periodico suggested that the race had already cost the taxpayer in the region of E142m, before confirming that an alternative venue was being considered for the remaining years of the contract.
At the same time, renowned F1 insider Joe Saward reported speculation that the organisers had not been the most prompt of payers when it came to sanctioning fees, with preparation work, annual construction costs and losses all combining to add to the financial burden, but that Camps and Valencia mayor Rita Barbera had been discussing plans for Ferrari to build the second of its theme parks in the city.
The European GP was due to be the ninth round of the 2011 F1 schedule, but will now be race number eight after the cancellation of Bahrain. It remains to be seen whether Fernando Alonso's return to form with Ferrari in the second half of 2010 will act as a catalyst to bring fans back to the seaside circuit before its contract expires in 2014 but, with the USA and Russia both angling after a return to the schedule in 2012 and 2014 respectively, it is unlikely that the Valencia race will hang around for too long.
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