COTA ‘highly confident’ of new USGP deal

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COTA ‘highly confident’ of new USGP deal

Formula 1

COTA ‘highly confident’ of new USGP deal

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Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein says he’s “highly confident” a new Formula 1 contract will be agreed to keep the United States Grand Prix in Austin beyond this year.

The 2022 F1 calendar was released last week and features COTA as subject to contract, with the current deal running out after this weekend’s event. However, despite the addition of the Miami Grand Prix next year, Epstein expects a new deal to be agreed and says he will be showing F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali around the biggest-ever Austin event over the coming days.

“We make progress every time we get together,” Epstein told RACER. “We visited in Spain and Hungary already this year, and now Stefano’s here, so we’ll make more progress.

“I intend to drive him around completely! I intend to drive him around a whole bunch and then have a conversation about, ‘Look what we’ve accomplished.’ I think he already appreciates it, I think the teams and the drivers have all expressed that they enjoy coming here — which is really satisfying for us to hear — and I think we’ll get there.

“We’d like to finalize it before we go on sale, although we’ll put some tickets on sale this weekend. Look, I think it’s going to get done. I’m highly confident that we’ll get there. I would be surprised and disappointed if we don’t, and I think he’d say the same thing.”

COTA has managed to increase its capacity for the race by roughly 35,000 since 2019 — demand that Epstein attributes largely to the Netflix effect given the lack of a race in 2020 — but he admits that doesn’t automatically mean an extension given the differing business models of races on the calendar.

“That part may have (been an easier sell), but there’s certainly as a business, an internal tug-of-war within the company of the fees that can be paid by Middle Eastern countries dwarf those that we in the capitalist West can pay.

“So as much as it’s been nice that the growth has been happening in the U.S. — it allows us to pay more than we paid in the past because the sport’s more successful — ultimately they’re a global sport and as much demand as we may have, we may not be able to outbid others.

“What I will say though is we were a lot more concerned about the Miami race five years ago than we would possibly be today. And knowing that it has spread to a different part of the calendar, I think it’s complimentary.

“As we’ve seen from ticket sales this year, where several years ago I don’t think we were in position to be as comfortable as we are today, and we could have sold a lot more tickets to this event this year than we did.”

 

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