Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that 'support for the event in the region' played a big part in keeping the USGP in Austin on the F1 calendar for 2012, despite uncertainty over the viability of the project.
has revealed just how close the race, scheduled to be held at the all-new Circuit of the Americas in mid-November, came to being axed after failing to meet financial deadlines as the various parties behind the ambitious plans to construct a circuit to bring F1 back to America began bickering.
Disclosing the contents of a letter, sent from Ecclestone to Austin's Circuit Events Local Organising Committee director Wayne Hollingsworth, business editor Christian Sylt confirms that the event teetered on the brink of being dropped from the schedule without actually going over the edge, and was only rescued when Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein - who took over as majority stakeholders in the CotA after falling out with originator Tavo Hellmund - produced the money to secure the rights to host the race.
"Beginning in mid-2011, it became apparent that [promoter] Full Throttle was having difficulty its obligations, ultimately resulting in the termination of the Austin selection and related contracts," Ecclestone confirmed, Construction on the CotA facility was stopped in November 2011.
"At that time, although competition for an FIA F1 World Championship [slot] was substantial and we had the opportunity to give Austin's place on the 2012 calendar to another location, as the issues that caused FOML to revoke Austin's previous selection were resolved, we evaluated Circuit Events Local Organising Committee's application and again selected Austin to stage a round of the championship. We then entered into new contracts for the promotion of the event with CotA."
Although desirous of an event in the United States, Ecclestone had the proposed New York race up his sleeve, and admitted that there were other reasons for deciding to press on with the Austin project.
"The fact that Austin was selected, after a highly competitive selection process, to host a round of the FIA F1 World Championship in the United States and then reselected in late 2011 as our chosen location for a round of the championship says much about support for the event in the region and our view that Austin is a very desirable location," the letter concluded, "FOML believes that Austin will be a very successful venue for the United States Grand Prix, and we are looking forward to the inaugural event in November and to many successful events in the future at the new CotA facility."