F1 enjoyed a long relationship with the Long Beach Grand Prix before the latter turned its affections towards CART – and subsequently Champ Car and Indycar – but there are more than a fewer doubts concerning rumours of a reunion in 2015.
Long Beach's current deal with Indycar expires at the end of next season and, since last weekend's event on the city's streets, the talk has been of a possible return to the F1 ranks. Bernie Ecclestone has made no secret of the fact that he has been in touch with the event's organisers, but there is the belief that the 'discussions' are little more than a means of putting pressure on the second American race that Ecclestone really wants to see.
The cancellation of this year's proposed Grand Prix of America on the streets of New Jersey was a blow for Ecclestone's aim of establishing an event close to the major population centre of New York and, with little in the way of progress reports from organisers, the octogenarian probably thought it was time for a shot across their bows.
"We are not in deep discussions with Long Beach but we have spoken to them," he told ESPN
following speculation that, along with LBGP founder Chris Pook and sponsorship guru Zak Brown, he was looking at ways of buying the event back from current owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe.
Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio is among those who feel that the 'talks' are a ploy designed to jolt New Jersey into action.
“It will be surprising if these preliminary negotiations [with Long Beach] develop,” he wrote in O Estado de S.Paulo
, “Ecclestone's statements sound more like a message to the organisers of the race in New Jersey.”
Oricchio also claims that New Jersey's real problem is financial, and not the red tape that comes with trying to stage a race on the streets.
Out in Long Beach, meanwhile, Kalkhoven insists that he and Forsythe have no intention of selling out to Ecclestone, while the event's president and chief executive, Jim Michaelian, say he has heard it all before.
"This is a story that keeps bouncing around every year or so, despite the fact that the race isn't for sale and there's been no contact between anyone and Kevin about a sale,” he told the local Long Beach Press-Telegram
newspaper, "Nothing is happening and to keep speculating, playing this 'what if' game, just encourages more rumours that don't amount to anything."