New Jersey back on track, but Cape Town says ‘no’
8 March 2013
Two contenders for a place on future F1 calendars have given conflicting progress reports as speculation mounts following Bernie Ecclestone's claim that next year could see as many as 22 races on the schedule.
The gap in the 2013 calendar caused by the late cancellation of the inaugural event on the shores of the Hudson River in New Jersey has yet to be filled, leaving a 19-stop schedule for the teams, but Ecclestone is confident, not only that the second American event will be back on the agenda in 2014, it can be joined by at least one other that, with Russia also stepping up, will expand the F1 year.
Organisers of the New Jersey race are backing Ecclestone's optimism with positive noises about the progress being made with its adventurous street circuit. Slow advances amid financial struggles forced the abandonment of plans to join Austin on this year's schedule, but promoter Leo Hindery Jr is confident that things are moving in the right direction for 2014.
"I think that Bernie made absolutely the right decision [to postpone]," he told the Sports Business Daily, "We are back under construction, we have the consents in place that we didn't have last fall, and we will quite comfortably put the race on, now probably in the mid-year of 2014."
While some of the infrastructure was beginning to take shape before the plug was pulled on 2013, Hindery knows the plan is in place to deal with what needs to be done to bring the streets of Weehawken up to scratch.
"The pavement work will start around September, when the weather is most conducive to do such work," he explained, "The second piece that needs attention includes transportation and seating alongside the Hudson River.
"We have some 39 ferries that will be part of the transportation scheme, and we will do some work over the summer to make the landing area for the ferries a little larger. We are going to put some [seating] …. where some of the ferries that will serve the race will dock, and that will include some stands right on the river's edge."
While New Jersey takes shape, however, one of Ecclestone's preferred destinations appeared to be backing away from an imminent return to the calendar.
The Briton has made no secret of his interest in bringing South Africa back into the fold – the continent is currently the only significant one not represented on the schedule – and has pin-pointed Cape Town as the ideal venue, but the city itself is not so keen to take on the financial burden of staging an F1 event.
"We are not in favour of it because of the huge cost implications to the city," tourism director Anton Groenewald confirmed to the local Cape Times newspaper, revealing that there had been eleven separate proposals for motorsport events placed before the city.
Of those, environmental champions such as City Challenge Cape Town and G1 Racing Green, which showcase new technology and alternative power sources, are likely to get the go-ahead. Both are also thought to have requested use of different areas of the city, away from the landmark regions, such as the waterfront and Cape Town Stadium.
"We have to distribute events throughout the city," Groenewald explained, "With all the events at the stadium, we cannot have the same community being continually subjected to noise and traffic."
Ecclestone will not necessarily be forced to give up on his South African dream with the exit of his preferred venue, having reportedly been offered the option of going to Durban instead.
Thailand and Mexico have also spoken to Ecclestone about joining the schedule, while France, Turkey and Portugal all offered to help fill the void left by the cancellation of New Jersey in 2013.