US GP on 2016 F1 calendar in spite of funding doubts

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Formula One US Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas on Oct 25, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Formula One US Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas on Oct 25, 2015, in Austin, Texas.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • The US Grand Prix in Austin remained in doubt on Wednesday after the official 2016 Formula One calendar was published with an asterisk against the Texas race due to doubts about funding issues.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said it had approved a schedule with a record 21 races and just one change with the new version pairing Mexico with Texas instead of Brazil.

The race in Austin, scheduled for Oct 23, is subject to an agreement with the promoter and national sporting authority.

Mexico was brought forward from Nov 6 to Oct 30. That change had been sought by Mexican organisers, whose grand prix returned to the calendar this season after a 23-year absence and drew a crowd of 135,000 on race days.

The earlier date means it will again be just before the national Day of the Dead holidays.

  • OFFICIAL 2016 CALENDAR

  • MARCH 20: Australia (Melbourne)

    APRIL 3: Bahrain

    APRIL 17: China (Shanghai)

    MAY 1: Russia (Sochi)

    MAY 15: Spain (Barcelona)

    MAY 29: Monaco

    JUNE 12: Canada (Montreal)

    JUNE 19: Azerbaijan (Baku)

    JULY 3: Austria (Spielberg)

    JULY 10: Britain (Silverstone)

    JULY 24: Hungary (Budapest)

    JULY 31: Germany (Hockenheim)

    AUG 28: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

    SEPT 4: Italy (Monza)

    SEPT 18: Singapore

    OCT 2: Malaysia (Sepang)

    OCT 9: Japan (Suzuka)

    *OCT 23: United States (Austin)

    OCT 30: Mexico (Mexico City)

    NOV 13: Brazil (Sao Paulo)

    NOV 27: Abu Dhabi

This year's US Grand Prix at Austin's Circuit of the Americas was hit by torrential rain.

It suffered a further financial setback when news emerged of a reduction in the subsidy paid by Texas state authorities.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone expressed concern for the future of the race last month after reports said the subsidies were being reduced by more than 20 per cent to around US$19.5 million (S$27.5 million).

"If it's changed, it's going to be difficult to continue the race in Austin," he had told the Austin American-Statesman.

"To use a technical term, I think we're screwed," Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein, who has to pay Ecclestone a significant annual sum in race hosting fees, had told the same newspaper.

"The big question now is: Is the race coming back?"

The Austin circuit is Formula One's first purpose-built track in the United States and has hosted a grand prix since 2012.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won there three times, including this year to clinch his third world title.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'US GP on 2016 F1 calendar in spite of funding doubts'. Print Edition | Subscribe