FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

U.S. Grand Prix F1 race in Austin in jeopardy after state reduces funding

Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein did not hold back his disappointment and fear for the future for the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, after government officials in Texas confirmed significant cuts to funding to the race.

COTA

On Tuesday, the American-Statesman in Austin reported that the state is cutting payments to COTA by more than 20 percent. And those contributions have been significant — $25 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This year’s payment is expected to be about $19.5 million.

“To use a technical term, I think we’re screwed,” Epstein said.

The stage appears to be set for a legal battle between COTA and the state over the unexpected reduction in funding.

“An entire facility was constructed based on that deal,” COTA spokesman Dave Shaw said. “If the calculation changes now, that’s effectively changed the terms of the deal.”

The news is the latest in a series of jolts for COTA surrounding this year’s race. Bad weather contributed in an attendance figure much below that of the facility’s 2012 F1 debut. Then, last week, the first F1 race in more than two decades in Mexico — considered competition by many to the race in Texas — was a glowing success.

The money that the state gives to COTA is tied to economic impact of the race to the Texas economy. State officials said that the state is using a different formula to calculate that figure this year, and that resulted in the smaller amount of funding being extended to the track.

“It hit us cold,” said Epstein of the latest news. “No one could foresee this coming.”