If you were hoping that Formula 1 would return to Long Beach next year, those plan have been squashed as the Long Beach City Council has just extended its deal with Indycar through 2018.

That doesn’t mean that F1 is out of the running, however, as the Press-Telegram’s Eric Bradley and Karen Robes Meeks point out:

“This is precisely what we wanted,” said Michaelian, who said both sides agreed to the terms in principal. “They have every right to explore other options, but by the same token we have the certainty of conducting the event through 2018. That’s important because we have lots of sponsorship agreements.”

So the city is free to explore other options centered round the 2019 season and this could be an opening for F1. As the article points out, Chris Pook had been working with Formula 1 to try and get the race back on the calendar and this would have represented the second race in the US for the series. Pook, a founder of the Long Beach Grand Prix back in the 70’s said:

“I’m not knocking the IndyCar race, but Formula One will bring the economic value the city enjoys,”

The extension apparently gives Indycar some time to think about what they will do beyond 2018 but with last week’s season opener drawing an overnight ratings of .6, it has some serious thinking to do regarding all their races and the health of the series as a whole. It was hoped that the return of Juan Pablo Montoya would help viewer ratings but perhaps they’ll need to find something more as losing Long Beach would really sting.

As for F1, it could slot nicely back in at Long Beach and should New Jersey ever gets its act together, there could be three races in the US. So…did someone mention a Mexican Grand Prix then?

Hat tip to Dave Doolittle of the Statesman for the link.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Who wants to bet Formula-E gets Port Royal, and Long Beach never happens? I’d like a few more US races as well, but doesn’t look likely. Can someone in the know tell me why F1 left the Glen? Runoffs? Paddock?

    • I think that’s most likely money. It usually comes down to money. The FIA safety standards are now out of reach for the Glen and it would cost a lot to upgrade. However, I was speaking with a F1 insider who knows about tracks and track economics and he said that it would be much cheaper for the Glen or Elkhart to upgrade than for a new circuit to be built (not that this is a surprise) but location is the key. Also, there is a real rash of street circuits being proposed these days so one assumes those are lower hanging fruit than even circuit upgrades and they have the city center as the backdrop.

      • I love Manhattan, and I love my city SF, but jeez… a crappy street layout’s worse than no race at all. Port Royal looked promising, but w/ Formula E’s lower costs and Leo D.’s involvement, I’d say that’s done and dusted.

        The Glen, for example, has history like Suzuka or Silverstone, even w/o the big city attraction. Save for the coasts, I can’t think of a US major metro that has the money or international prestige to want/be able to host a GP. Any ideas? Do you think either Port Royal or Long Beach (yuck) possible?

  • Wait, has LBC agreed to an extension, or proposed it? Other reports state the latter, and only through ’18.

    If that’s true, F1 still has a chance to bid against Indycar, although I still think the venue is blah.

    • Tom Firth

      My understanding from the press release :

      The City Council has proposed a 3 year extension to the Long Beach Grand Prix association with final approval before the city council in the next few weeks, therefore taking the Indycars through 2018.

      However at the same time the LBC has instructed City management to form a request for proposal process to determine whether the LBGP association runs Indycars or F1 for 2019.

      In other words, Indycars until 2019 , after which it all depends on how this proposal process goes which is what Todd wrote :) It could happen but it’s some way down the road now. Personally I’m sceptical that F1 will return to Long Beach.

  • Gotcha, so Indycar and Long Beach haven’t formalized yet, it’s to be approved or not in a few weeks. Either way, F1 will not return before ’19 if at all. Thanks for the clarification Tom

    • Tom Firth

      Correct, yet to be approved in an open session in a few weeks, although as the proposal is coming from the city council, it seems extremely unlikely not to be approved.

  • I’m going to Long Beach this year…Paddock Club at the hairpin…Paddock access…food & drinks and parking….the bill? $340 for all three days (far less than my distant Grandstand seats at the Nurburgring and Singapore….or start finish straight in Canada). If it were Formula One, better tack on another zero for the same kind of experience.

    The Long Beach Grand Prix is a great, multi-series event that in some ways, more enjoyable than a Formula One weekend. It’s a celebration of car culture in the convention center (reminds me a bit of Nurburgring tourist complex). It’s also very beneficial for the City of Long Beach, packing hotels & restaurants, bringing families and Southern Californias into the ordinarily quiet industrial enclave of Long Beach. I don’t think F1 would could keep the prices low enough or bring the same kind of mutual benefit to the city (because most cities lose money when the F1 comes to town).