USA Day: Not the US Grand Prix

USA Day, United States Grand Prix 2007 start, 470150

Today, one week after the Canadian Grand Prix, should be the United States Grand Prix. But the race fell off the calendar this year after Bernie Ecclestone and Indianapolis circuit owner Tony George failed to agree terms.

American fans make up the second-largest group of F1 Fanatic readers by nation (16% in May) and many of them have voiced their displeasure at the loss of the race here. And lots of non-American fans want to see F1 back at Indianapolis because a world championship should have an American round.

Today at F1 Fanatic we’ll have a mini-series of posts with a distinctly American theme…

Earlier this year there were rumours that $10m was the difference between Ecclestone and George on negotiating a new Grand Prix contact.

F1 sponsors want the race back in America and the six car manufacturers that compete will surely want to be represented in the world’s largest car market.

If F1 does go back to Indianapolis it will probably be to a revised circuit. The Indianapolis road course has been changed to accommodate Moto GP bikes, which cannot run on the oval corners (diagram here).

Yesterday it emerged that the Australian Grand Prix may have kept its place on the calendar without having to concede to Bernie Ecclestone’s demand that the race be held at night.

He is not making the same request of the American Grand Prix organisers (a midday start in the States makes for an evening television viewing slot in Europe) but it may indicate that Ecclestone is will to compromise. Perhaps he is a little anxious to keep the car manufacturers onside in the wake of the fall-out over the Max Mosley scandal.

A few weeks ago the chances of a United States Grand Prix being on the calendar in 2009 were described as 50-50. Fingers crossed for good news soon.

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35 comments on USA Day: Not the US Grand Prix

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  1. cyanide said on 15th June 2008, 8:49

    I think the absence of the US GP this year was a case of nobody doing enough to keep it on the calendar and the **** hitting the fan in the end. It was probably unexpected for everyone in the pitlane because there are other circuits far more likely to lose their spot on the calendar. If I remember correctly, the dispute was over 10m USD or thereabouts, which is chump change to most of the people involved in F1, and I’m pretty sure that we will have a US GP next year.

    I only wish that it would be held at Laguna Seca which has a lot more character than Indianapolis…

  2. M Smith said on 15th June 2008, 10:03

    Yeah, here’s to the US GP being held at Laguna Seca, but silly F1 circuit rules means that sort of circuit wouldn’t be allowed….

    At least change that horrid mickey-mouse midsection of the Indy circuit, its so generic and boring. Typical American circuit to be packed with right-angles…

    Either way, I hope the US GP returns next year, because it just doesn’t feel right that America doesn’t have a race, yet India and Korea are scheduled to get one (although I all for that happening anyway)

  3. francois said on 15th June 2008, 10:09

    Laguna Seca would be too short really to have an F1 race , you’d have loads of traffic problems , as great as the Corkscrew is.

    I do think that F1 needs a US GP but I don’t think it should return to Indy and if it does then it should be using the oval.There’s enough great circuits around in America , why do they have to have a silly mickey-mouse track?

  4. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 11:01

    I don’t see there’s much point in going back to Indy if they use the Moto GP configuration and don’t use the banked oval (though I don’t quite understand why they would HAVE to). The track’s one redeeming, interesting feature is that corner. Every other corner is dull, banal and uninteresting, as a result of trying to cram a Formula 1 track into the space inside an oval track.

    It was good to be able to say that F1 was running at Indy, but it smacks of the same problem that F1 has run into so many times when going to the States: they get a makeshift track. Bernie decided which city he wanted a race, and then they had to force a track out of that, with extremely limited results: rather than pick a dedicated proper road course in the US, they went instead to silly car park circuits and Mickey Mouse Indy circuits and never really let Americans properly see what F1 cars can do when you let them off the leash a bit.

    F1’s attitude to America has been all wrong for so long it’s not even funny.

  5. Sush said on 15th June 2008, 11:59

    the banked corner rocks, well it used to.

    i’ve banged on about this before but the restricted engines make that race boring now, shame really it was a funky little race to start off with.

  6. donwatters said on 15th June 2008, 14:31

    Two words: Long Beach.

  7. Sassan said on 15th June 2008, 15:12

    With the banked corner you could gain a slipstream and overtake and now thats gone whats the point. However with the spec low downforce cars for next year it could be a suprise. I do feel a street circuit is required like Long beach however as said with the ultrasensitive F1 rules it is only a fantasy.

    Keith what’s your view?

  8. frecon said on 15th June 2008, 15:25

    I think America should have al least 4 GPs. This year they’ll have only two. With Europe America is the place with more fans. It’s stupid see a lot of circuits in Asia almost empty, and place like USA, Argentina or Mexico are not allowed to host a F1 GP.

    I’ve read that Venezuela is building a F1 circuit. I’m sure Hugo Chavez and Bernie Ecclestone think in similar way, because they govern in similar styles.

  9. Can anybody explain the technical hurdles the teams would face if they had to run the full oval? I suppose some sort of rev limit would be required to protect the engines. Apart from that, would the cars be safe enough? After Kubica’s Montreal smash a year ago I’m thinking that potentially they would be.

    Racing on the oval would please everybody and instantly make the USGP one of the F1 highlights of the season (and perhaps *the* highlight for US fans).

    Failing that, Long Beach, Laguna Seca and Road America would all be great venes if F1 could just relax its circuit rules a little.

  10. F1 drivers wheel to wheel at over 200 mph on the oval, lap after lap? Asked his opinion of IRL oval racing Schumy stated he thought they were all nuts. I’m sure given the challenge all would participate but I also think most F1 drivers would feel the same. Too risky, too dangerous. Not to mention the chassis setup would require a totally different car design.

    The two best road courses suited for F1 would be either Watkins Glen or Road America. The negatives are access and paddock facilities.

  11. donwatters said on 15th June 2008, 18:15

    An F1 race on an oval? Please. As far as I’m concerned, it’s totally against everything F1 has historically stood for. By your rationale, you could run the DTM Series at Talladega.

  12. verasaki said on 15th June 2008, 18:40

    i was thinking of the report that an f1 race generates more revenue than any other single event race and wondering if it weren’t specifically timed-and aimed- for tony george’s reading pleasure.

    i wholly agree with robert mckay but, he missed a point about indy. one of the best reasons that venue was chosen was to try and reel in american race fans (not american f1 fans)and try and get them as interested in f1 at indy as they were nascar and irl at indy. if they could make it a go- and before the ’06 debacle the verdict was still out on what direction that was going– then a us gp would have been fairly secure. if that could have been pulled off there would have been the potential for a second race being added at a “real” track, maybe toward the end of the season.

    oh well.

  13. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 19:09

    Can’t disagree with you verasaki – you make a very good point. I think Indy did a good job for F1, despite the Schumacher/Barichello nonsense, despite the disastrous 2005 6-car farce, the fans still came in very large numbers. Picking a known venue was instrumental in what seemed like finally getting F1 to have a foothold in the US.

    But as I say it’s a shame the only way to do this was to squeeze whatever turns they could out of the shadow of the oval, which is pretty allegorical for what F1 has to survive with in America from both open wheel racing and NASCAR.

  14. verasaki said on 15th June 2008, 20:06

    oops! it was ’05, wasn’t it? mind like a sieve i have. and yes,the layout was crap, gotta agree. 1 banked turn and a screaming front straight do not a race track make.

    i guess i can keep my fingers crossed for laguna. and hope that the irl starts acting like an open wheel series out to redeem itself and add more road courses. they really need pir and road america on the calendar.

  15. Gman said on 16th June 2008, 0:35

    Because my interest in F1 began to develop just as the USGP was dropped after the 2007 race, I’ve bene very eager for it to make a comeback in 2009. Many of you have probably seen my posts on the issue in the past, and I’m hoping/praying that cooler heads previal and the series returns to the U.S. in 2009.

    Verasaki makes an excellent point in that having the race at Indy would help to reel in fans of racing in general here in the US- there are indeed many such people who have equal interest in NASCAR and the IndyCar series as they do in F1, and getting 100,000-plus people every year is reflective of holding the event at such a location.

    I’m actually firmly in support of bringing the USGP back to Indy- it brings instant name recognition to the event and puts the race at a popular and historic venue. I think it would be great to have another GP in the US later on in the season, and indeed Laguna Seca or Long Beach would be perfect if they were brought up to spec. In any event, here’s hoping for an F1 return to the U.S. in 2009!!

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