Spanish GP: F1 will renegotiate fees for races without fans

Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images
0 Comments

MADRID — Formula One organizers are open to renegotiating hosting fees for races that may take place without fans this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the general manager of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya said.

Joan Fontsere told The Associated Press that Liberty Media is “conscious” that if races need to go on without fans the contracts with event promoters will have to be somehow renegotiated.

“They are conscious that this is an exceptional situation,” Fontsere said. “We are obviously on the same page. If they want to keep some races on because of the TV rights, because of the teams … they know that our income (will be reduced), they realize that this year it will be like that, so for sure we are on the same page.”

He said Spanish Grand Prix organizers at this moment are not even considering a race with fans in Barcelona. He said it’s not only ticket sales that would be affected if the event goes on with empty stands and no hospitality suites.

“When the Catalan government invests in F1, it’s not only for the tickets that we sell, it’s also for the financial impact that the event has in the country, in Catalonia,” Fontsere said. “The economic impact for the country will be very reduced. It means no income for taxis, for hotels … so that changes completely the agreement between the two parties.”

Liberty Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Spanish GP brings in more than 160 million euros ($173 million) to the region, with the total of its financial impact during the year nearing 300 million euros ($325 million), according to data from the track. The attendance for last year’s race-weekend surpassed 160,000 people.

Fontsere said he received a couple of phone calls from F1 CEO Chase Carey to discuss possible solutions for the Spanish GP. He said Carey said the series is trying to run as many races as possible, but it was still too early to know when the season would actually resume, whether it would be in the summer or only in the fall.

Nine of the 22 races have already been postponed or canceled, and F1 recently put half of its staff on furlough until the end of May. Some teams also took similar actions to reduce costs.

F1 organizers have said they hope to hold between 15 and 18 races this year. The Australian GP and the Monaco GP have already been canceled.

Fontsere said the Spanish GP is “completely at the disposal” or organizers and is open to all proposals, be it doubleheaders, shortened weekends or almost anything else other than running on a reverse layout, as that would require too many complex changes to the track and could pose safety concerns.

Among the ideas reportedly being discussed in F1 is to have two or three consecutive races at the same circuit and to use fewer days of on-track activities. There were also talks about changing the format of qualifying and even races.

“We need to reduce two things: costs and risks,” Fontsere said. “So the fewer people we move, the smaller the risk, and the fewer days we use and the fewer activities we do, the lower the costs. It’s an exceptional season and exceptional decisions need to be taken.”

He said it is key to have as many races as possible this year in order to have a strong 2021 season, but he would understand if the Spanish GP was eventually left off the calendar. He was optimistic with its chances, though, considering its tradition, infrastructure and location.

Fontsere said he can get the Barcelona-Catalunya track ready for a race in “two to three weeks” and expects the Spanish GP to be among the first to resume.

“As soon as we can restart the season, I’m sure that it will be with European races,” he said, “and we will be around there.”

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

0 Comments

Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2