US GP future decision due in February

Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein is to confirm by the end of February whether this year’s United States Grand Prix Formula 1 race at Austin will go ahead.

Epstein conceded in November to being concerned about the future of the race after the Texas state government announced a significant cut in its contribution towards COTA’s hosting fee.

That prompted Epstein to remark just over two months ago the future of the race was “not looking good”.

Earlier this week F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone expressed certainty the October 21-23 event – currently on the calendar as provisional – would go ahead.

Asked about Ecclestone’s remarks, Epstein told Autosport: “I share his optimism on it.

“We all want it to happen, and usually when that’s the case, things get done.

“I certainly can’t confirm anything at this point, but for sure there will be something within the next 30 days.

“We’ll have an answer definitely before the end of February.”

The state originally promised $25million per annum of funding over the 10 years of the contract prior to the race’s debut in 2012.

That has now dropped to around $19.5million after a different formula was applied to calculate the GP’s economic impact on the area.

With ticket sales slowly declining, and last year’s event severely hit by the storms that significantly affected the overall attendance, the funding cut was another blow to the GP’s long-term viability.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” Epstein added.

“Time has gone by pretty quickly, with this our fifth anniversary year, and no one wants to miss it.”

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