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Reduced Grid To Start U.S. Grand Prix At COTA

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 30 2014

The starting grid at this weekend's Formula One race in Texas will be the smallest in years.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

The financially strapped Marussia and Caterham Formula One teams will sit-out this weekend’s third annual United States Grand Prix, reducing the starting grid at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, from 22 to 18 cars.

Already reeling from the life-threatening head injuries suffered by Frenchman Jules Bianchi during the Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 5, Marussia has turned over operations to administrators FRP Advisory LLP. The team reportedly will continue to operate while a long-term assessment is undertaken. Marussia’s participation in the season’s final two rounds at Brazil on Nov. 9 and Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23 remains undecided.

In the wake of Bianchi’s crash into a recovery crane at the Suzuka Circuit, Marussia gridded a single Ferrari-powered entry for Englishman Max Chilton during the inaugural Russian Grand Prix on Oct. 12.

Earlier this week Caterham’s management also handed over control to administrators, who reportedly are seeking a buyer who will keep the organization intact. Caterham’s pullout will leave drivers Marcus Ericsson of Sweden, Kamui Kobayashi of Japan and their Renault-powered cars on the sidelines.

The 18-car grid will be the smallest in F1 since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, when the BAR team was parked for two races because of a technical infringement.

Marussia (formerly Virgin) and Caterham (formerly Lotus Racing) both joined the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2010. Both have been backmarkers since, with Marussia scoring its first world championship points during this year’s Monaco Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Caterham has not posted a championship point in 93 starts.

According to a report on Autosport.com, the sanctioning FIA will not request Formula One’s top teams to field a third car in order to fill the grid gap this season.

Haas F1 Team, the sport’s first American-owned organization in 30 years, has appointed Adam Jacobs as chief marketing officer. Jacobs will lead brand strategy and partnership development for Haas F1 Team, which is scheduled to make its debut in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2016.

Jacobs joins Haas F1 from Anheuser-Busch, where he was sports marketing manager for the company’s Budweiser brand in NASCAR and the Bud Light brand in the NFL and college sports. In that role, Jacobs oversaw sponsorship programs collectively valued in the billions, including Budweiser’s sponsorship of Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Bud Light Hotel during Super Bowl XLVIII in New York City.

“Adam came highly recommended to Haas F1 Team and he brings a wealth of sports marketing experience to our organization,” said Joe Custer, Haas F1 Team’s chief operating officer. “The projects Adam has overseen are global in scope, involving numerous partners and constituencies. He’s built great relationships during his career.”

Jacobs has extensive experience within the corporate, property, agency and academic settings of major sports. Prior to his role at Anheuser-Busch, Jacobs joined the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in 2006 as director of marketing before becoming the team’s vice president in 2009.

Jacobs also has held positions with the Indy Racing League, General Motors R*Works, Washington Mutual Bank and the Miami Fusion of Major League Soccer. Jacobs has been a member of the Sports Business Advisory Board at Saint Louis University since 2008 and an adjunct professor of sports business at the school since 2010.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop and launch a global brand in an organization led by someone as driven and accomplished as Gene Haas,” Jacobs said. “With strong support and leadership already in place, Haas F1 Team is clearly positioned for success. I look forward to helping shape the ways we achieve that success on and off the racetrack.”

Haas Automation, Inc. – the CNC machine tool-builder Haas F1 Chairman Gene Haas founded in 1983 – will serve as the team’s primary sponsor. However, Jacobs is positioning the team to partner with other high-profile brands looking to reach a global audience. “One of our key objectives as the only American F1 team is to help grow the sport domestically,” Jacobs said. “With the massive global reach of Formula One, Haas F1 Team is also uniquely positioned to provide a platform for brands seeking to grow their businesses in key markets abroad.”

Preparation for Haas F1 Team’s debut is well under way. Work is nearing completion on a 125,000 square-foot facility adjacent to Haas’ NASCAR team in Kannapolis, N.C., that will house the F1 operation. Construction is scheduled to be completed in late November.

In addition to Haas F1 Team, Haas’ motorsports holdings include Stewart-Haas Racing with three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart and Windshear, a 180 mph rolling-road wind tunnel in Concord, N.C., that is the first of its kind in North America.

Premium seating in COTA’s Main Grandstand and the signature Turn 1 are sold-out for Sunday’s third annual F1 United States Grand Prix.

But tickets at other prime locales around the 20-turn/3.427-mile road-course remain available for the 56-lap/191.947-mile event, including the premium grandstands at Turn 15 and the bleachers at Turn 12. Bleacher seats at Turns 3, 4, 5 and 9 also remain available. General admission starts at $139, including race day on Sunday. Driver autograph sessions and a “track invasion” Sunday will allow fans to get up-close to the teams. To purchase tickets, visit the web at circuitoftheamericas.com/f1.

–  John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 30 2014
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