Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the organizers of New Jersey's Grand Prix of America have made positive steps in the bid to host their inaugural race next year, but has added that its place on the calendar is under pressure as he has also signed a contract for a race in Mexico in 2015 and agreed to host a race in France if sufficient funding is raised.
The Grand Prix ofdue to be held on 3.2 miles of public road in Port Imperial, a district in the New Jersey towns of West New York and Weehawken. Part of the course snakes the Hudson river and has the striking background of the Manhattan skyline.
The race has been beset with problems since it was first announced in 2011. It has been dropped from the provisional F1 calendar twice, has had multiple management changes and has breached its contract, according to Ecclestone.the organizers engaged investment bank UBS to raise $100m needed to complete work on the track. The F1 Group itself provided a loan of $10m and this gave Ecclestone a good insight into the organizers' finances.
"New Jersey have just written to me," he said. "Somebody has paid some more money for outstanding bills and they are saying they have got more money coming in. If they do what they have to do, I'm happy."
However, he added: "We have got a contract on the table with France for a race at Magny-Cours. To meet the terms of our contract, the organizers will need money and we will want some kind of guarantee that it's not going to be a one-night stand. It was [originally] going to take place this year, actually."
The last grand prix to be held at Magny-Cours, which is located in Nevers, central France, was in 2008. The event was dropped after organizers failed to secure enough finance to foot the estimated $17.3m annual hosting fee. Since then, replacement races have been proposed on sites that include the streets of Paris and around Disneyland Paris.
Ecclestone went on to admit that the grands prix in India and South Korea, which are not taking place this season, may return. He said last year that the devaluation of the rupee had led to the cancellation of the Indian Grand Prix while the organizers of the race in South Korea said that the problem is also down.
Said Ecclestone: "I think India will come back. Korea? When they get a new government, then maybe." In addition to this, he has admitted that Azerbaijan is now also a possibility for 2015 or 2016.
There are 19 races on this year's calendar, and with Ecclestone revealing that "Mexico is signed for 2015," that would bring the calendar to 20 were all this year's races retained. The number of races was limited to 20 in the Concorde Agreement, the contract that committed the teams to F1, but the Concorde expired at the end of 2012 and since then teams have separate agreements with the FIA. The teams could agree to increase the number of races on the calendar, but there is no guarantee that they will, and so the first of the potential new/returning events to pay the hosting fee has the greatest chance of getting accepted.
"The championship is in good shape," Ecclestone said, adding that he is looking forward to this year's new addition which is the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. It will take place in Sochi and the track will weave around the facilities which hosted last month's Winter Olympics. Ecclestone signed the race agreement directly with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who he described as a "good, ballsy guy."
Ecclestone added: "Sochi did a great job with the Olympics. I think it has made a big impact. We always knew that when Russia got behind something they would get on and do it, and they have. We are going to try and do a night race there. I think even if we only told them a few days before the race, they could do it."