LONDON (Reuters) - Next year’s inaugural Grand Prix of America in New Jersey will be postponed to 2014 because local organizers need more time to prepare, race organizers said on Friday.
”They’ve run out of time,“ Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters. ”There’s all sorts of things...and they didn’t quite think it all through. They’ve had a wake-up call but the wake-up call came too late.
“They couldn’t get everything ready in time,” added the 81-year-old. “That’s the bottom line.”
Organizers said the plan now was for a race in 2014, when the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi is also due to make its debut on the calendar after that year’s Winter Olympics there.
The waterfront Grand Prix of America, with the New York skyline as a backdrop, had been penciled in for June 16 next year with an asterisk against it.
It would have followed a weekend after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal as a North American double-header.
Ecclestone had raised doubts about the Jersey race in September when he said organizers had not complied with the terms and conditions of the contract, which he added had subsequently lapsed.
Organizers issued a statement on Friday saying construction issues included needing additional time for the development of facilities along the Hudson Riverfront and for finishing the second pits and paddock garage on the site.
“We are going to be racing at Port Imperial, unfortunately just not as soon as we hoped and expected,” said promoter Leo Hindery, Jr.
“We remain 100 percent committed to the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial.”
The New Jersey race would have given the United States a second round of the championship after this season’s inaugural grand prix at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, next month.
Formula One has not raced in the United States since 2007, when the U.S. Grand Prix was held at Indianapolis, but teams are eager to return to a country that is a key market for sponsors and car manufacturers but one that the sport has found hard to crack over the years.
When the 10-year-deal for New Jersey was agreed a year ago, state governor Chris Christie said the three-day race weekend was likely to attract upwards of 100,000 people a day with a significant economic impact.
The postponement will also come as a disappointment for NBC Sports Group, who recently signed a four-year deal for the exclusive U.S. media rights to Formula One.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; additional reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Justin Palmer