The run up to tomorrow’s deadline for an agreement between Formula 1 and Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has been full of twists and turns, and American F1 fans have been waiting by the finish line this week for news that the 2012 race in Austin will go ahead as announced. The American Statesman has been keeping a close eye on events last month surrounding the story in Austin, and for many it’s time for a recap.
A win tomorrow for COTA means a win for Austin and American fans with a race in November 2012, but it wasn’t long after construction was interrupted earlier this year that observers noted it was going to be it’s own race to complete. The project was underfunded and delayed, and with a complete stoppage of work at the site due to a reshuffle at the top, all eyes are now waiting and watching for COTA to take the last corner on the last lap and finish what they’ve set out to do.
Americans love an underdog, and since the announcement of the Grand Prix of America, a new F1 race in New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline in June of 2013, it’s been positioned to steal COTA’s thunder as the first F1 race in the US in more than half a decade if COTA is dropped from the calendar next year. FOM’s rightsholder, Bernie Ecclestone, has been a lightning rod for much of the ire around the Austin race delays, and the announcement tomorrow is expected to either put COTA ahead of their well-financed contenders from New Jersey, or make them the second Formula 1 race in the US in over half a decade.
A second place finish to the New Jersey race won’t take COTA out of the running for 2013, and regardless of outcome tomorrow it’s critical for everyone involved with this project, and especially the fans, to address the expectations set for F1’s return to Austin and match the passion and enthusiasm American fans have for the sport here.
The picture is much bigger than a one-off event or launch, and is about the ten year plan to create a new American home for F1 – one that is going to be supported by hundreds of millions and hopefully billions of reasons fans and business bring with them to ensure its longevity in Austin.