New Jersey F1 Postponed

It is a shame to see the Formula 1 race planned for New Jersey next June has been postponed to 2014, just a few weeks after the WMSC released the 2013 schedule with New Jersey listed with an asterisk.

From the plans I was not convinced the racing would’ve been all that good but I was willing to give it a chance, and having a race in that location would’ve been Very Cool. No racing series currently holds an event on NYC’s doorstep and it is a notoriously difficult nut to crack. A potentially poor track for racing situated opposite NYC is better than a poor track for racing in Valencia, and if it turned out to be a good track for racing then it would be a win-win.

That said, despite often boring races I did always like the atmosphere projected through the screens from a sunny Mediterranean, it was just the docklands area and the poor racing which turned people off. Nobody objected to Valencia as a venue, it was the track that was the problem, coupled with the extortionate prices of flights and accommodation and tickets (and yes I did look into going). It’s a little sad that Valencia was actually a very good race this year as it showed it is possible there! Some track changes and ‘a serious talking to’ from race promoters to hotels and airlines may have saved this event. I’d have happily done away with Korea instead.

The real loss for F1 as whole – series sponsors, team sponsors, teams themselves –  is the ability to get into the New York City market just across the water from the New Jersey track, and the North Eastern US region as a whole (as well as those in South East Canada). A delay of a year could stall the momentum. But was there any momentum? It seems it was only on the track build side and that was delayed. I’ve not heard of any clamouring to get this race going and the only PR I’ve seen is from Red Bull running their show car and sending their drivers to smoke the tyres of some Infinitis.

Maybe the delay could work for them. Give them time to put some proper event promotion in place. If you let Austin (and NBC) start to build up F1 in the US consciousness over the next 9 months it might help calls for a second race, maybe leading to the financiers paying more attention, and more money.

I think everyone wants to see two successful US races as well as retaining those in Canada and Brazil. More races in those timezones helps grow F1 in the important and previously underserved US market as well as satisfy the fans already existing in Canada and South America – and why not carry on and add a second South American date? It helps us Europeans because the races are on in the evening – prime time! – so it bumps up the viewing figures. It’s only a negative for the growing Asian region for whom the timezones don’t work at all, but they’ve got loads of races of their own now and can see all the European races without getting up too early. And of course it all justifies the World Championship moniker.

There is no suggestion of a replacement date from Bernie Ecclestone and he denied as such yesterday, despite Turkey having been mooted by some. This means the 2013 schedule is down to 19 races which I personally feel is a more manageable number anyway.

In the meantime, let’s hope New Jersey gets itself ready for 2014.

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