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.