The USA is the biggest single entertainment in the world, and Formula 1 is desperate to get a bigger piece of the commercial pie over there. Now that the Austin Race is established as one of the more entertaining events on the calendar, the rumours are rife that Formula 1 will add at least one more race in the USA in the next few years.
Gene Haas’ entry is a big catalyst for further growth in the states – he’s well known from his success in NASCAR, and will give US fans a name they can get behind when his team joins the grid in 2016.
So where could the new races be?
F1 has raced in plenty of venues across the USA over it’s long history – Detroit, Phoenix, Long Beach, and Las Vegas, as well as the more recent US GP that took place on the Indianapolis circuit. There are also some other iconic tracks that could figure – Laguna Seca to name just one.
When Bernie Ecclestone was interviewed in Austin he said that he was in talks with a number of US cities about staging a race, and there was plenty of rumour ahead of the race that suggested something might be on the cards, although nothing was announced during the race. There was an F1 race in Las Vegas in 1981-2. The Caesars Palace Grand Prix which took place in a hotel car park, but a modern night race in the neon on the Las Vegas Strip would have the potential to be absolutely stunning given the success of Singapore, although it might be tricky to time it right for the European market.
The New Jersey GP was ill fated, and now looks as though it’s never going to happen, but there are plenty of other opportunities. Miami would provide precisely the right amount of glamour for F1, while Los Angeles would also provide a good backdrop and a big audience.
As with most decisions in F1, the big factor in all this is money. According to Adam Cooper’s blog, Marco Mattiacci has said that he thinks F1 could have 3 races in the USA. That kind of exposure to the US market would have a huge benefit in terms of team sponsorships, but more importantly, it would also push the case for a bigger TV rights sale in the USA. The UK Sky and BBC deal is worth around $100 million per year. The US rights for a more American centric series could dwarf that, and put to bed a lot of the financial issues the teams are currently having.