Oh, say can you see?

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 AM ET

TORONTO - Count Francois Dumontier as one of those who thinks that a Formula One return to the United States is not a sure thing this year, or even next year.

And make no mistake about it, Dumontier’s opinion counts big time as far as the F-1 world championships is concerned.

He is the president and CEO of Octane Motorsports Events, the promoters of both the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and of the IZOD IndyCar Series Edmonton Indy in the Alberta capital city.

At a stop in Toronto this week to be honoured after being named one of the 50 young corporate stars in Canada this year, Dumontier said he is not convinced yet that the planned U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, will go ahead in November.

The promoters of the Austin race have faced a multitude of problems both building the track and getting government financing for the event. In fact, at one point F-1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said the race would not go ahead because of legal wrangling among the race partners.

And Dumontier is even less sure that a second race — tentatively scheduled for the week after the Canadian GP for 2013 — in New Jersey will get done.

“First of all I am one of the skeptics who is not convinced that (Austin) is going to happen this year and I am more than skeptical about New Jersey,” he said.

Dumontier said it is not that he worried that either race would take away from the Canadian GP in terms of ticket sales. There has been suggestions that the many American fans who normally come to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the F-1 race might opt to go to Texas or New Jersey instead of Montreal.

Dumontier does not agree with such an assessment.

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, it could be beneficial to Montreal to have another race in North America,” he said. “If Austin happens; if New Jersey happens we would have three races in North America.

“I think we can all benefit from a visibility standpoint.”

Dumontier said he could even see his company working with the New Jersey promoters to sell ticket packages that would let fans attend both events.

“I think that in the case of New Jersey — because we are so close — we could work together to present race packages,” he said. “I see it on the positive side, not the negative side.”

As far as costs are concerned, Dumontier said that while it would certainly be more cost effective to have two races (Montreal and New Jersey) follow one another on the calendar, it would benefit F-1 more than it would the Octane group.

“Having another race in North America certainly cuts costs,” he said. “But those savings would not be mine, but Bernie’s.”

Dumontier said that no matter what happens in Texas or New Jersey, the Montreal race next month — the largest single-day sports event in Canada every year with attendance at more than 115,000 — is in full pre-race mode.

“We are already in race mode; the grandstands are going up, the suites are going up — and in town you can already feel the excitement of the event,” he said.

One of the things that has Canadian F-1 fans buzzing is the increased competitiveness of the series in the first four rounds of the world championship.

Last season at this point Sebastian Vettel was already on his way to a second championship with Red Bull. That is not that case this season.

“The first four races were great; four different races, four different winners,” Dumontier said. “There has been a lot of passing; a lot of excitement.”

He said that he hopes that Vettel can win another championship, but hopes that he will be challenged more this season.

“I wish Vettel well in his quest for a third championship — but I think that he will have to fight harder this season to get it,” Dumontier said.

“We are race No. 7 on the calendar, so if in the first six races it is always the same guy winning there is not as much interest building when the world championship comes to Montreal.”

FINISH LINES

Chevrolet has decided to further appeal an IndyCar ruling that Honda be allowed to alter the turbo charger on its V6 engines. Chevy race bosses said that went against the rules that were established prior to Chevrolet and Lotus joining Honda as engine suppliers for the series. The original appeal by Chevrolet was thrown out by a three-member panel. But this week the bow-tie brigade sought and were granted a final appeal that will be hear by retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm. That is scheduled to happen next week in Indianapolis and Boehm’s ruling will be final.


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