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US Grand Prix organisers count the cost of freak Weather as fans stay away

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US Grand Prix organisers count the cost of freak Weather as fans stay away
Oct 29, 2015, 12:43 PM

The fans who braved the weather to watch Sunday's US Grand Prix were treated to a classic race, but the organisers have confirmed that the severe w...

The fans who braved the weather to watch Sunday's US Grand Prix were treated to a classic race, but the organisers have confirmed that the severe weather that hit the Austin weekend last weekend meant the race day crowd at the Circuit of the Americas was the lowest since the event joined the Formula 1 calendar. The organisers lost millions in potential revenue.

The Texan track was deluged by storms coming from Hurricane Patricia, which struck Mexico throughout the weekend. The combination of heavy rain and lighting meant the race’s second practice session was abandoned and qualifying was eventually postponed until Sunday morning.

XPB.cc COTA

COTA President and CEO, Jason Dial, told Sports Business Daily that the weather meant thousands of fans chose to stay away from the circuit on race day. The official figures show that 101, 667 people watched came through the gates on Sunday, down from 107, 778 in 2014 and the 117, 429 who watched the inaugural race in 2012.

He said: “We got 13 inches of rain on Friday and Saturday and that really put a damper on it. We were on pace to actually be above [last year’s numbers]. But when you look at who shows up as a result of the rain or not, that definitely affected us.”

Bobby Epstein, the track’s chairman, explained that because of the storms, fans did not buy the normal amount of merchandise and concessions that they would have done under normal circumstances.

XPB.cc COTA

Speaking to the American-Statesman, Epstein said: “It was a tough weekend. 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 minds.”

Epstein also acknowledged that the addition of the Mexican Grand Prix to the F1 calendar just one week after the US race had impacted on tickets sales.

He said: “The Mexico race hurt us,” but declined to reveal the full-scale of the influence the situation had had on the circuit’s finances.

XPB.cc Pastor Maldonado

But Dial revealed that discussions were on-going with the Mexican organisers about future collaborations on ticket packages and promotions between the two events, but explained this could not take place in 2015 as the Mexico City race was already sold out.

He said: “Those type of things will happen just as we’ve created partnerships with UT [Univ. of Texas]. “Those opportunities didn’t exist this year because Mexico City was in a sold-out position.”

Dial also hailed the Grand Prix as the best race held in Austin so far, which came as a result of the weather reducing track time for the teams and influencing their strategy calls during the race.

XPB.cc COTA Austin start

He said: “The wet conditions increased the level of competitiveness that we’ve not seen, certainly in the four years we’ve hosted it. It created and provided incredible entertainment for the fans. I heard people say, ‘despite the rain, this was amazing.’”

Were you in Austin at the weekend? What was your experience? Or did you get put off by the weather? Leave your comments and thoughts below
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Series Formula 1