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Chinese conglomerate backs plans for Las Vegas F1 race

Local organisers have claimed that funding is in place for a Las Vegas round of the Formula One motor racing series to be added to the calendar as soon as next season.

The possibility of a race in the US city has been mooted for a number of months, with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone in April confirming that it is being considered. “It is possible that there could be an event there,” he said, adding that the time “would be a couple of years I suppose”.

Now, Farid Shidfar, founder of P2M Motorsports, has said the backing of an unnamed Chinese conglomerate will allow the local organising group to press ahead with plans.

“They are very close to Las Vegas and have got businesses in media, sport, technology and entertainment, so they are a massive conglomerate,” Shidfar said, according to UK public-service broadcaster the BBC, whose report added that the conglomerate has agreed to commit £100m (€125.9m/$141.8m) to the project.

Shidfar added: “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.”

Las Vegas last staged F1 races in 1981 and 1982 on a track developed in the Caesars Palace car park, but the temporary nature of the circuit led to it failing to secure the necessary backing to become a permanent fixture on the calendar.

Ecclestone has already confirmed that a Las Vegas date would not replace the existing US grand prix in Austin, Texas. The Austin grand prix has been staged at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) venue each year since 2012 and has grown to become a popular date on the F1 calendar.

Race plans would reportedly include a street circuit taking in the world-famous Strip and running past landmark casinos like the Bellagio and Caesars Palace. P2M Motorsports co-founder Russell Dixon said the race would cost investors nearly $150m including hosting fees, necessitating additional support from the state of Nevada.

Shidfar added: “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.”

Should Las Vegas be added to the calendar next year, the total number of race fixtures would rise to 22.

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