COTA boss rues ‘financially devastating’ F1 weekend

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Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein admits last weekend’s USGP proved to be “financially devastating” due to terrible weather conditions but also the return of the Mexican Grand Prix.

Heavy rain massively disrupted the proceedings at Austin, which led to the cancellation of Friday’s FP2 and the postponement of qualifying to Sunday morning. Although the race eventually delivered one of the most thrilling contests this year, Epstein says the damage had already been done.

“It was a tough weekend,” the COTA boss told the Austin American-Statesman, before labeling the event “financially devastating for the company” that runs the venue.

“We lost millions on concessions. And we suffered from some fans having such a bad experience they won’t be back, though I hope we can change their mind.”

But Epstein does not think Hurricane Patrica was the sole reason why only 101,667 people walked through the circuit's gates on race day, down from an estimated 107,778 in 2014 and a third consecutive drop since it started hosting F1 in 2012.

Fears that Mexican spectators, who had always flocked to neighbouring COTA in big numbers, would be lured away by the sport's return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez turned out to be well founded.

“The Mexico race hurt us,” added Epstein. And while he would not give any specific figures, the Chairman conceded that the declining Mexican attendance resulted in a loss of “millions” for his track.

Scheduled back-to-back with the US race, the Mexican Grand Prix welcomes back F1 for the first time since 1992.

Chris Medland's Mexican Grand Prix preview

Technical analysis: United States

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