F1 close to Las Vegas race, others in mix (9th Update)

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

UPDATE (GMM) An official has denied that planning for a F1 race in Las Vegas is obviously racing ahead.

With Liberty Media often mentioning the desire for a second annual grand prix in the US, the local Las Vegas Review Journal says the sport has now made a series of trademark applications for Las Vegas GP-related items.

"As far as we know, there is nothing new with formula one," the president of Las Vegas events said.

However, a F1 spokesman confirmed that Las Vegas is on Liberty's radar.

"We have made no secret that we are looking for destination cities, and regarding the US, Las Vegas has been mentioned alongside Miami and New York," said Luca Colajanni.

Indeed, the Las Vegas Review Journal said F1 has also made similar trademark applications for New York and Miami.

Chase Carey and Bernie
Chase Carey and Bernie

11/18/16 Formula 1's new owner, Liberty Media, has reiterated its intention to expand the Grand Prix calendar in future seasons, with a Las Vegas night race emerging as a target.

Liberty, due to complete its takeover in early 2017, had already listed 'evolving the calendar' as one of five select opportunities to consider in a detailed purchase presentation.

Chase Carey, the sport's new Chairman, is keen to race in cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Miami, and Greg Maffei, Liberty's CEO, has added Las Vegas to the list.

"I particularly like the idea of a night race in Las Vegas," Maffei is quoted by Reuters.

Formula 1 teams have repeatedly expressed that the current 21-round calendar is pushing their resources to the limit, but Maffei reckons more races could be beneficial.

"Obviously there is a limit on how much you can do, just getting the cars around the world, but I think we can expect to grow the amount of races to a mild degree," he added.

"There is a general line of interest if you increase the number of races to a point. The FIA makes more money, the teams make more money, we make more money."

Dr. Hermann Tilke has son Carsten now in the business
Dr. Hermann Tilke has son Carsten now in the business

08/19/16 (GMM) Plans to take F1 back to Las Vegas remain in the air for now.

That is the news from Dr Carsten Tilke, the son of grand prix circuit designer Hermann Tilke.

Carsten has a central role at his father's circuit-designing company, which has been engaged to start work on a project in the casino city in Nevada, USA.

"We have already developed an interesting potential track layout, which we'd love to implement," Dr Tilke told Spox.

"Las Vegas would surely be another spectacular highlight on the F1 calendar," he added.

Dr. Carsten Tilke
Dr. Carsten Tilke

"The difficulty is to manage the project within the given area and the runoff," Carsten explained. "Then you need a place for the paddock and the pits, and in the city there are very few options.

"The paddock is therefore a determining factor," said Dr Tilke.

And another major issue is an actual deal with a promoter and Bernie Ecclestone.

"Supposedly there are talks between Bernie and the people in Las Vegas," Carsten said. "We must simply wait until the contracts are signed. We will see what comes of it but we'd be very happy if it does end up taking place."

Another circuit project Tilke is working on is in Kuwait, with a corner he says combines the iconic Carousel at the Nordschleife with Laguna Seca's Corkscrew.

As for any F1 ambitions for Kuwait, however, Dr Tilke said: "Although the track will be F1 standard, at the moment it doesn't look like formula one will be there in the near future."

07/11/16 The organizer of the planned Formula 1 Grand Prix in Las Vegas has revealed that he "would love" to work with Tavo Hellmund, the racing entrepreneur who resurrected the United States Grand Prix and the Mexican Grand Prix writes Christian Sylt of AutoWeek.

The plans for a Las Vegas Grand Prix came to light in 2014 when it was revealed that F1's track design firm Tilke had visited the city and designed a circuit which incorporates the world-famous 4.2-mile stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Strip. In March, F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said that although the organizers have got a contract, it hasn't been signed due to a lack of funding.

Farid Shidfar, the entrepreneur who is leading the organizers, now says that funding is no longer a roadblock as he has an "agreement in principle" with Chinese investors to provide the $150 million needed to get the race off the grid. He adds that, "Tavo Hellmund and I have spoken in an informal way and I would love to involve him with this. He has managed to pull this kind of thing off before and he definitely knows his stuff. Having said that, I think his efforts are being focused elsewhere, so I think it is going to be up to him to decide if he wants to do another race."

Hellmund has helped to bring several races to the F1 calendar, most recently the Mexican Grand Prix that returned in November after a 23-year hiatus. It was a resounding success with a reported attendance of 335,850 over the three days of the event.

Hellmund was one of three key figures responsible for the return of the race. The other two were Ecclestone and race promoter Alejandro Soberon, chief executive of CIE, the world's third-largest live entertainment company.

He would bolster an already-strong team. Richard Cregan, a consultant on the F1 races in Russia and Abu Dhabi, is on board, and Peter Wahl, Tilke managing partner, says, "when I got the chance to visit Las Vegas for the first time in late summer of 2014, I had some imaginations about this extraordinary city situated right in the heart of the Mojave desert. The moment I arrived, it was overwhelmingly clear to me that Las Vegas was an ideal destination for Formula 1 racing. With support from a group of passionate, highly skilled and well-connected individuals, we successfully designed a racetrack which is partly on the Las Vegas Strip and does not impact any resort."

Since the debut of the Mexican Grand Prix, Hellmund has been linked to a bid for the Manor F1 team and a plan to host a Grand Prix in San Francisco. He says, "I'd be happy to help Farid in any way possible. I have a lot of friends in Vegas, and I think an F1 race there would be fantastic. Plus, it would be good to work with Richard on something as unique as this."

Wahl adds that "the track definitely has its own character and shall provide drivers high-speed challenges with different sharp corners. Best part, the track is designed to host large numbers of spectators, and I can't wait to see the first car fire up and race down Las Vegas Boulevard — no doubt that moment in time will be remembered as the peak of my track-designing career. I believe the Vegas race will become one of the highlights of the F1 calendar."

He may not have long to wait, as Shidfar says, "There has been discussions of 2018 but it could be as early as 2017. We need roughly 14 months to prepare for this race." Christian Sylt/AutoWeek

06/15/16 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the latest reports about Las Vegas potentially joining an F1 calendar of the near future.

Speculation that F1 might host more American races often does the rounds, but the latest word from Las Vegas was that an event on the world-famous 'strip' is more than just fantasy.

However, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now quotes Bernie Ecclestone as insisting: "The Americans talk a lot, but nothing happens."

06/11/16 The organizer of a Grand Prix which is set to take place on the streets of Las Vegas has told the BBC that he is targeting a 2018 debut after a Chinese conglomerate agreed to invest the £100m he needs to get the race off the ground.

"They are very close to Las Vegas and have got businesses in media, sport, technology and entertainment, so they are a massive conglomerate," says American entrepreneur Farid Shidfar, founder of organizing group P2M Motorsports.

"They came to us out of the blue late last year, because of the initiatives they are involved with in the state of Nevada, and we have been in due diligence since then. The benefits they will derive are very strategic so that's why they are very excited about it."

Shidfar adds that "there has been discussions of 2018, but it could be as early as 2017. We need roughly 14 months to prepare for this race."

The previous Grand Prix in Las Vegas took place in 1981 (pictured) and 1982 in the car park of gambling mecca Caesars Palace, but Shidfar's plans are far more spectacular. His track includes the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, a stretch of road lined with casinos and hotels. This would be perhaps the most well-known backdrop to an F1 race and it has driven some to deride the plan due to the alleged difficulty of closing the Strip. Shidfar says that in fact it couldn't be further from the truth as not only have all of the resorts on the Strip voted in favor of closing it for the race but they have offered to cover some of the costs.

At a meeting of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in 2014, "every major resort unanimously voted in favor of carrying out F1 racing on the Strip," says Shidfar. "The resort community has shown interest in helping subsidize this" as it would boost their bookings and gambling takings he adds.

It reflects a study for economic diversification commissioned by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval last year which recommended an F1 race as it would attract a high number of international visitors.

Pitpass has also seen a letter written by Sandoval to F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone offering "support and interest in bringing Formula One Grand Prix to the world famous Las Vegas Strip".

The track has been created by F1 track design firm Tilke and its managing partner Peter Wahl says it "is partly on the Las Vegas Strip and does not impact any resort. The track definitely has its own character and shall provide drivers with high-speed challenges with different sharp corners. Best part, the track is designed to host large numbers of spectators, and I can't wait to see the first car fire up. I believe the Vegas race will become one of the highlights of the F1 calendar."

P2 Motorsports co-founder Russell Dixon says "the race will cost investors nearly $150m (£103m) including hosting fees" and all that remains is confirmation that the state will support it. "The key party in terms of making this happen is the state. It's not the investor. The investor is happy to proceed so long as there is some formality about the contribution from the state," says Shidfar.

He adds that "the government is showing interest in putting money in," as F1 would also help to reverse declining gaming revenues in Las Vegas. It is no surprise given the attention and crowds that this would bring to Las Vegas.

In Sin City there is no such thing as a racing certainty but the boost this race would bring is as close as it gets. Pitpass


No one in Las Vegas can meet Ecclestone's money demands
No one in Las Vegas can meet Ecclestone's money demands without losing their shirt

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admits to "struggling a little bit" to have the sport return to Las Vegas in the near future.

Sin City already welcomed Formula One at the end of the 1981 and 1982 seasons, with the Caesar's Palace Grand Prix serving as the title showdown on both occasions. Teams and drivers were not overly enthusiastic about the venue, which was laid out on the parking lot of the world-famous luxury and casino.

Ecclestone has always been willing to have more races in the US, and this despite Austin barely making it to the calendar this and recent plans of a New York event quickly fizzling out. The 85-year-old previously said the Vegas organizers had a contract but "the trouble is the pen."

Speaking to reporters at the Russian Grand Prix, Ecclestone admitted little progress had been made on that matter.

"We are struggling a little bit, yes," said Ecclestone. "I want to make sure we are on The Strip, so when people turn their television on, they immediately know it is Vegas."

The F1 boss added that should the Vegas deal fall through, there was no shortage of candidates stateside.

"We missed out a little bit of New York, but lots of places are talking about it."

04/01/16 F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone on Friday said that Las Vegas “could host a second U.S. race" on the circuit’s calendar in a few years' time, “but a deal has yet to be agreed."

Ecclestone: “It’s possible that there could be an event there."

He added of whether the race might happen, “In a couple of years I suppose. We’d keep Austin and have another race." Ecclestone said that the F1 calendar's current record of 21 races "probably the limit."

03/28/16 (GMM) The saga over the future of historic Monza's grand prix continues, with Bernie Ecclestone making conflicting comments regarding its chances.

After reports suggested talks between the Italians and the F1 supremo have broken down, Ecclestone told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I think it (the race) will continue.

"It is a fact that as men we are talking, although I don't know why Federico Bendinelli went as he was a smart person and we understood each other.

"But in the end we will reach a favorable conclusion, I'm sure," the 85-year-old added.

However, Ecclestone has now told Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper that he is actually not so sure.

"Next year is the question mark," he said. "If it doesn't happen we will have 20 races," he added, although he also revealed he is in talks with promoters of a potential second US grand prix in Las Vegas.

If Las Vegas comes in and Monza survives, the Briton played down the likelihood of the already stretched calendar being pushed out to 22 races.

"We have got 21 races now. It could go to more but I don't think it will," said Ecclestone. "Some of the guys at the teams are shattered."

03/27/16 Bernie Ecclestone insists that F1 would survive the loss of Italy from the calendar.

"Monza has got a contract for this year so it is going to go ahead. Next year is the question mark," he told the Mail on Sunday.

"I don't think we have to have an Italian Grand Prix," he added. "Somebody once told me a funny thing that you couldn't have Formula 1 without a race in France. But we do."

Ecclestone admits he is still eyeing a race in the capital of bling, Las Vegas."Vegas would be super," he says. "They have a contract. I think the trouble is the pen. The organizer hasn't got a pen."

This at a time the United States Grand Prix, in its latest guise, has escaped extinction by the skin of its teeth.

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