OllieF1
Is Formula One Returning To America?

Is Formula One Returning To America?

Over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Bernie Ecclestone met with the team principals and discussed the possibility of reinstating the US Grand Prix to the calendar. It is hoped that Formula One can return to America from 2010 onwards; the 2009 calendar is pretty much confirmed now. However, Formula One’s relationship with the United States has been a little rocky to say the least, and it is unknown if Indianapolis would even be the host.

In 2005, Formula One fielded only six cars to what became a farcical race, resulting in upset fans the world over. A tyre issue surrounding the Michelin-shod teams meant they couldn’t take part safely and despite many attempts to find a solution to the problem, all but six drivers peeled back into the pitlane after the formation lap. Although Formula One returned for the following two years, a problem involving finances meant the race was dropped for 2008.

Aside from being a world championship, the teams believe Formula One should be in America as the country’s automobile market is huge. The manufacturers in particular want to show off their achievements to the many millions of potential road-car owners, but currently they cannot. And even Frank Williams, co-owner of the private Williams team believes F1 should be racing on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

We all want it. Many of our sponsors are very active in the US – and several American ones, like Thomson Reuters, AT&T, are looking to expand – Philips too. Frank Williams.

The North American market is absolutely vital to us, and for all the luxury car makers especially it is key. It is a market Honda is successful in, with Honda and Acura, and we would like to get back there as soon as possible. Nick Fry.

It is important for BMW as a manufacturer but also for our sponsors. The USA is still the biggest market for BMW and we should be there. But we should be there successfully, so we have to find the right venue, the right setting and the right approach in order to make a point over there. Mario Theissen.

It is thought that Bernie Ecclestone could be looking at Las Vegas as a potential venue, satisfying the manufacturers who feel the East or West coasts would be ideal, rather than Indiana, which is more central. And it isn’t just the teams who want to return to America, as the fanbase across the pond is still strong, despite everything that has happened. Just this year I have received many emails from the BlogF1 community, notably Bill Adkins and “Gman”. Both of whom are real fans of the sport and wish it would return to their homeland.

There is just one problem with adding yet another race to the potential 2010 calendar; space. Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t want the season to expand beyond 20 races, and currently, we have a fair few more on the cards…

Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Valencia, Italy, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, China, Brazil, Abu Dhabi. And now potentially America, India, South Korea. By my reckoning, that’s 22.

Although a lot of these venues may not have a contract beyond 2009, it is clear that they will want an extension. But with the issues surrounding Donington Park and the doubt that has been cast over the venue among the fans, I wouldn’t be surprised if Britain and a couple of other venues were dropped in favour of the larger/growing markets; America and India.

Oliver White

29 comments

  • It would be great for F1 to come back to the states, I would love to see them come to Laguna Seca, Ca. I do not know if the track is able to be used by the F1 boys but the west coast would bring alot of money and boost to the reputation of F1

  • I doubt Las Vegas could put together a venue that would be of much interest. Remember the “parking lot” course? It was unexciting and really quite a bore. IMS, on the other hand, has a fabled history going for it. Yes, the current layout needs to be cleaned up and redesined a bit…particulary the infield section…but beyond that, I think Indy makes a great stage for F1. I’ve been twice and loved every minute. Laguna Seca would be super if only they would widen the track and add some runoff.

  • I would love to see them come to Laguna Seca, Ca.

    So would I, Linda, so would I. In my previous posts about America, Formula One and my dislike of the Indianapolis infield course, I also suggested Laguna Seca – just purely for the corkscrew. 🙂

    Incidentally, a Formula One car has recently lapped the Californian track – a Toyota I believe, possibly in the hands of Ricardo Zonta – and I think the lap record was smashed!

    Remember the “parking lot” course?

    Alas donwatters, the car park course was before my time – I’m only a wee-nipper at 27 years of age! 🙂 Las Vegas hosted the ’81 and ’82 races, I think, and I was born in ’81.

    Laguna Seca would be super if only they would widen the track and add some runoff.

    I agree. I think if they did this, and maybe lengthened it a little, Laguna Seca would make for a superb home for the US GP.

  • First, thanks for the mention Ollie- I’ll be sure to shoot you another email soon!

    When I heard about this meeting and read the statements from the people involved, it was a great breath of fresh air after seeing the USGP left off the schedule for 2009. F1 in American can indeed be a very successful venture, and while it will never rival sports such as NASCAR or the NFL, it can build a solid fanbase, hold good events, and make plenty of money in the process. I have always said that Bernie will be cheating his own success if he dosen’t expand F1 into America, and perhaps he is waking up and making plans to maek it work now.

    In terms of a venue, Vegas is a great place but I don’t think it would be able to put together a quality track. Indy may not be popular with some, but it dose have the needed infrastructure and is eager to bring F1 back. I’ve heard other rumours about street races in some cities, and even plans to build a new F1-spec circuit outside of New York City, so let’s keep an eye out for any developments.

  • First, thanks for the mention Ollie- I’ll be sure to shoot you another email soon!

    No worries. Did I ever reply to you and give you my email? It’s been quite a while and even though I do read every email that comes in, I don’t always remember to reply. For future reference though, my email is ollie [at] ollief1.com.

    Indy may not be popular with some, but it dose have the needed infrastructure and is eager to bring F1 back.

    This is true, I must admit. Being so popular with American racing series, Indy has great systems in place to cope with a huge amount of people and their travelling and hospitality needs.

    As a quick aside, someone (jokingly) said the other day on another site that the airport serving Donington Park is the only one in the country with a cattle grid at each end. In other words, it’s a bit lame. That made me laugh so much…

    I’ve heard other rumours about street races in some cities, and even plans to build a new F1-spec circuit outside of New York City

    Oooh, that sounds interesting. Do let me know if there are any further developments on this.

  • I have been told since I live in Del Mar that several drivers were at the track during break. I also believe that they stated 2010 would be the quickest they could have the track ready due them have to widen the track and add runoff. F1 would have to contractual sign with Laguna Seca inorder for them to take the expense of having them there and I am sure it would have to benefit us who pay to live in Southern Ca, the sun and fun capital of the US where the weather is mostly perfect all the time. Also there are several events now at Laguna (red bull us grand prix,ama superbike finals,rolex and more) I read the comment about New York and I know that Burton Smith is looking to build a race track on Staten island compared to Bristol track for Nascar, I have not heard of F1 building a track in New York. Not much room in New york. As far as Vegas, lot of room to build a track, more hotels than you need and would draw a lot of people from everywhere. Love the idea just don’t think that one will fly due to the expense of building a F1 track from the ground floor, to much money and the Nascar track in Vegas is an oval not a road course.

  • How about a street course in NYC – Start in Times Square, straight down Broadway, quick left at Houston, up the FDR, over to Central Park, down Central Park west and back to Broadway! Okay, probably not feasible at all.

    At first I thought Detroit would make a good place, given the car culture there and HQs of many automotive companies, but then I started looking to see where the sponsors of F1 are HQ’d in America, and decided that it wouldn’t make any difference to them, as none of them appear to have their American Headquarters in Detroit.

    Also, given that Montreal already has a GP and is in the eastern time zone, perhaps F1 would want something on the west coast to provide geographic diversity?

    Greg

  • Greg- not bad ideas at all, but there are a few hangups with each. With Detriot, F1 did have a GP there for many years in the 80’s- it wasen’t terrible but not a big hit either, so I doubt it would ever return there. In terms of a street race in New York, it would be neat, but New Yorkers would never, ever put up with closing down many of their key streets for a week or so, not to mention the noise and logistics that would come along with it. For proof, just look at the hostile mess that Will Smith had to deal with when filming “I Am Legend” a few years back.

    Linda- Living in California, I’m not sure how well you know New York City, but the borough of Staten Island is most certaintly included among the 5 boroughs that make up New York City, along with Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Therefore a race in Staten Island would count as being in NYC, even if it’s not on the streets of Manhattan as Bernie would prefer. With Vegas, Bernie is after a race on the streets around the casinos- I don’t think anyone ever looked into building an F1-spec circuit out there. In any event, best wishes with your hopes for Laguna Seca, but there are also many of us here on the east coast who are hoping for an F1 return to somehwere closer to us as well.

  • Point Taken, I lived in Manhattan for only 6 mos then moved back to Cal. I would like just to see the fans in the US enjoy F1 on our turf. As I stated, Vegas would be nice, around Lake Mead, that would be close to the Casinos. Best wishes to all I am sure this is not the last of the conversation.

  • Linda- please understand I was not trying to by pushy or prove anything with my remarks. I did not know you lived in New York, and was just trying to give you the best information about the city- some very intelligent adults I know can’t even name the five boroughs. I would love to see F1 back anywhere in the USA, and no doubt Laguna Seca would be very good if it was brought up to F1 standards. My only concern with making that happen is that the layout would be changed too much in the process to accomodate F1 that the track would be less challenging and produce poor racing, as some people are saying about the plans for Donington Park at the moment.

    With Vegas, if a good circuit was built in the area I’m sure Bernie would love it- the NASCAR people all enjoy their time at the oval- but he’s been so vocal about a street race in the city, for so many years now, that I doubt anyone would look into or invest in a different option out there.

    In any event, hopefully the USGP will return soon, and to a good venue that all fans can be proud of. Best wishes to you and thest of the west coast crowd on the rest of the F1 season!!

  • I’m not sure you could put together a street circuit in Vegas that would conform to F1 standards. They don’t like bumpy tracks as a rule. That said, it’s probably the preferred location for Bernie. Sort of like Monaco in the desert.

  • There were plans for an IndyCar race down around Wall Street about 15 years ago — they had a track design and everything — but they couldn’t make it happen with the city. I think the best track in NYC would be to use the Central Park drive and maybe a portion of Central Park West/South/Columbus Circle to add some slow turns. Closing down the park drive isn’t a big deal for traffic and the roads are smooth. Logistically, aside from making it into an actual track, it would be similar to the NY marathon.

  • I would love to see an F1 race at Laguna Seca but I think F1 would ruin the track. They would make too many changes to it. The safety changes I have no problem with but they would end up smooting out the Corkscrew because we are in the stupid position of changing tracks to suit the cars rather than saying there is a track design a car to race that track.

    Detroit wasn’t exactly popular when it had a race so I doubt they will go back there. Bernie would certainly love a race in New York but I would prefer a proper circuit rather than a street track. Street tracks with the current cars are a joke.

  • I have to think that Vegas is still the place, just think Bernie and all the F1 boys can be in the casinos and Max can go to the chicken ranch since prostitution is legal in Vegas (someone please tell max outside of Clark County LOL LOL) then they all can have fun. Please dont take offense just having some fun.

  • Linda, you do make a good point with that one!!!

    Steven Roy, you hit the nail on the head with the Corkscrew- making such a change would make for a more boring race not only for F1 but also for all the other series that race there. The same issue would hang over any other road course in the U.S. that may want to take a shot at F1, including Watkins Glen and Road America- great circuits, but the cost of making the F1-spec would make it difficult for them to join the calendar in the future.

  • Passing at Laguna Seca is hard in every single seater series — in F1, it would be impossible. And the run-off area are incredibly dangerous because they’re just sand. Watkins Glen is too dangerous, and even IRL cars run single-file there. If they sunk hundreds of millions into Road America, it would be epic. But it’s in Wisconsin.

  • I think Vegas is the most likely candidate if the US GP does not return to Indy. And of course, if it returns at all.

    After all, Bernie and his celeb mates would have a blast in Vegas which of course is the main focus of any GP. Racing is very much a secondary consideration 🙁

    And Laguna Seca would be awesome, as long as they didn’t ruin the corckscrew. Maybe with the 2009 regs & less aero etc, F1 cars could be adapted to running at Laguna?

  • I agree Pink, The cost to bring it up to specs would be high, and Stephen changing Laguna Seca and losing any part of it would ruin it as you stated. It is a great track. Gman, Watkins Glen is on the east coast and everyone has been throwing out New York. I just wonder what would have to be done to it to make it available for F1 to race. I also would like to know if a track is built from the ground up will it just be for F1 or all other motorsport. Also what about Infineon Raceway that puts us back on the west coast. I guess we will have to wait for the next showing of “As the FIA turns”

  • Linda- The information I have on the new track venture at the Meadowlands comes from a friend I met over the summer who has some ties to the project backers. According to this guy, the developers will only move ahead with the project if they can be assured of hosting an event from both F1 and NASCAR on an annual basis. And as funny as it may sound, getting the NASCAR race is the tough part. With more than 30 races on NASCAR’s schedule- including multiple venues hosting two races- it can be darned near impossible to get space for a new race. The people at Kentucky Speedway have been hammering away for years to get a NASCAR date, with no success so far.

    If the venue was built, I would imagine the ownership would want not only F1 and NASCAR, but also several other series as well. I would imagine such a venutre would be very costly, but when Mr. E wants something to happen, we all know anything is possible.

  • I’m sorry to be a pain, but in exploring the internet a bit for more info, someone on another site suggested what could perhaos be the ideal venue…the brand-new Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I don’t know if any of you have heard of this facility before, but if it meets the FIA guidelines (as well as Bernie’s hospitality demands) it will be the PERFECT location for a Grand Prix.

    It’s got an airport right nextdoor, and the venue is just a stone’s throw from Atlantic City, meaning everyone can go party but the drivers still get to race on a real circuit. In terms of location, it’s very close to Philidelphia and a few hours drive form both Washington D.C. and New York. Take a look at their website and see what you all think…

    http://www.njmotorsportspark.com/tracks.html

  • Never heard of the track but from what the web site shows it does not look bad. As far as Nascar goes, I never thought I would see them cancel the race at “The Rock” and they did. I due know that there are several tracks that will never lose Nascar Bristol, Daytona,Lowes, Tallag. I know that alot of fans would love to see more road courses in the Nascar schedule and with 32 races on the east coast (that includes the shootouts and all star races) that leave 9 races either in central US or west coast. I would think that a race on the west coast would help out Nascar and also F1, and I would love to see a different track than Fontana (not one of my fav. tracks) If F1 could schedule a race after Sept 15th then Nascar could also use the track and put that road cource race in the chase. Just a thought. Gman thanks for all the info.

  • Re: the New Jersey Motorsports Park and the airport.

    The runways at Millville Airport right next to the track are only 5000 and 6000 ft long, which are much too short for the 747’s that F1 uses to transport the equipment. Though a 747 can land in that distance, for safety reasons usually the runways are over 10,000 ft.

    As stated though, Philadelphia is not far, so they could use that airport.

    Greg

  • For the USGP enthusiasts, check out Miller motorsports park in Utah. I think they are even trying to lure F1. I hear it is a great facility with a lot of land to make improvements.

  • […] Bernie Ecclestone has previously hinted at negotiations for three other locations in the US besides …, and also hinted all would be street circuits a la Monaco & Valencia: New York City, Las Vegas, and Long Beach.  Boy I wouldn’t mind seeing a Vegas or Long Beach GP given our proximity, but if they somehow pulled off a Manhattan based NYC GP…that would be absolutely stunning. […]

  • Whilst I love my F1 and catching up with opinion on the web I do feel that 20 races per years seems about right when you consider the people, development cycles and changes in regulations.

    But just to provide some controversies why does the teams not consider have an extra two races but each team gets 2 bye weeks where they do not race. This could be drawn at the start of the season so teams can plan for it. Some races, like all the fly away ones, can be set for everyone to attend.

    It would add another level of strategy to the championship and allow a reasonable development cycle for the teams.

  • Oliver, Heard through the grapevine that F1 has been looking at Palm

    Springs. Chris Pook that is still friends with Bernie seems to be putting pressure on him. The United States Grand Prix is a name that is now believed to be owned by Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but that does not mean that we could not see a Californian Grand Prix in the future.

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