F1: Vegas race gets financing 'in principle'

Above: Jacques Laffite (Ligier JS17-Matra) leads Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari 126CK) during the 1981 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

A month after chief executive Bernie Ecclestone called plans for a Las Vegas race “struggling,” the founder of the group organizing the event tells the BBC that a Beijing-based conglomerate has “an agreement in principle” to commit £100m ($143 million) for the race to get the green light.

“They are very close to Las Vegas and have got businesses in media, sport, technology and entertainment, so they are a massive conglomerate,” said Farid Shidfar, an American entrepreneur and founder of event organizer 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.”

P2 Motorsports was launched in 2014 with a mission statement that it was a “consortium bringing Formula 1 to the Las Vegas Strip.” It estimates it will take about 14 months to ready for the race, meaning a grand prix in 2017 is not out of the question.

Peter Wahl, managing partner of F1’s track designers Tilke, told the BBC that a racetrack has been designed “which is partly on the Las Vegas Strip and does not impact any resort.”

“The track definitely has its own character and shall provide drivers high-speed challenges with different sharp corners,” he added.

With P2 estimating that the race will cost investors $150 million, Shidfar called on the state to contribute, saying “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.”

In April, Ecclestone told British media that a deal for a renewed Vegas race was in the works, but a month later he told ESPN UK that a race within two years was not a safe bet.

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