USA Day: Not the US Grand Prix

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

35 comments on “USA Day: Not the US Grand Prix”

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  1. Another thing that the FIA and FOM need to do in America is to allow the teams to carry area specific Branding and Sponsors – some of the teams have picked up Middle Eastern and Chinese sponsors, but only as part of a ‘global’ approach.
    I think that in order to gain promotion on the American ‘home’ market, the teams need to be allowed to show American names.
    Renault would be Nissan or Renault/Nissan Alliance, Toyota would be Lexus (since Toyota is known for pickups in the USA), Honda would be Infiniti, but the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams would be the same.
    This would allow for M&Ms and Coca-Cola sponsorship of cars, and it would be a major breakthrough to allow the two cars in a team to be in different colours, something which might also be useful in the rest of the world.
    Williams showed in the build up to this season how easy it is to change the colours of a car these days, so isn’t it about time Bernie, Max and the rule makers made it into the 21st century too?

  2. I have to believe the Concorde Agreement wouldn’t allow such a thing.

  3. DG, Toyota is known just as much for their passenger cars in the US as elsewhere. If anything I’d say the stereotypical ‘redneck’ American would have nothing to do with one of them “jap” trucks, but instead considers only either a Ford or a Chevy a ‘real’ truck. Even Dodge (Chrysler) is given the short straw in ‘redneck’ culture.

    According to an article in Autosport, the main reason for no USGP this year is that Tony George ‘just had no time’ to bother dealing with Bernie this year due to all the work he had on his plate for the reunification. Of course, this also shows just how important the USGP was to Tony George.

  4. All the cars for a given team must be in the same colours according to Article 21.1 of the Sporting Regulations. I don’t know if the Concorde Agreement insists on that as well, but if it did it would be a duplicate rule rather than a strictly necessary one.

    I’m not surprised Tony George doesn’t consider getting F1 back at Indy to be a high priority. After all the messing around F1 has done to him, he probably thinks it deserves a little bit of the same to reduce the probability of him beng messed around again next time.

  5. @Scootin – thanks for the correction, I had wondered why the Toyota NASCAR COT was a Camry and not a Lexus!
    On the other hand, if you check any US magazine for adverts, you see lots of Toyota and Honda Trucks and SUVs, but again, that is possibly just my perception.

  6. @donwatters “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.”

    Actually the Indy 500 was a Formula 1 Championship round from 1950 – 1960, so F1 returning to the Indy oval would be more a return of a tradition than something against what F1 stands for.

    F1 supposedly has the 20 greatest drivers in the world, and as such I’d like to see the World Championship include all types of circuit, including an oval.

  7. I’m with Pete – it would be awesome to see modern F1 cars trimmed out for Indianapolis. They’d probably need to beef up the crash structures in some places though (on the cars).

  8. Robert McKay
    16th June 2008, 16:43

    There’s as much chance of F1 running a world championship race on an oval as there is them running a race round the Pescara track.

  9. Yes, the Indy 500 did count for the World Championship at one time…but very, very few F1 drivers or cars ever participated. Why do you think that was? Monaco, or just a huge lack of interest?

  10. Sush, the Indy drivers call it a “weightjacker”, it’s a mechanical ratchet-lever system, and basically, it keeps the car from oversteering when it runs out of gas, and from plowing into the walls once it’s refilled and on cold tires. It’s worked with a pencil-sized lever to the driver’s right.

    Keith and don, I like the sense of fun in having Indy be an actual F1 race (or to have a race or two in the Indy style) but I really don’t think it should count for championship points. As it is, you never hear the drivers saying “I wish Monaco wasn’t on the same weekend as the Indy 500 so I can be in both this year,” and that’s the real shame.

  11. I think an F1 race on an oval would be a pretty cool thing because it would be different. Side by side at over 220 MPH is what IRL drivers do on a race to race basis. It obviously can be done. The problem is the 2001 CART race at Texas.

    Just how fast would these F1 Cars go at their peak performance? It might just be too much for a human to take.

  12. Also Sassan – I don’t think it’s unrealistic to suggest F1 could race at Long Beach again. After all they’re adding two new street circuits to the calendar this year. I think there’s a lot to be said for having two United States Grands Prix – one east, one west as they used to.

    Steve K makes a good point about the infamous Texas race that never happened. There’s an excellent account of that race in Steven Olvey’s excellent book “Rapid Response”. The teams turned up at an oval they hadn’t tested on before and found that the combination of lateral and vertical G-loadings it was inducing in the drivers were so high it was causing disorientation. Some drivers would come into the pits with no memory of how they had been driving. Others, like Mauricio Gugelmin, suffered (and survived) terrifying crashes.

    But it’s important to remember this was a one-off and proper preparation beforehand including testing on the track could have prevented it – one could say the same of Indianapolis ’05 for F1.

  13. What’s this about bikes not using banking? Daytona, Loudon, Texas World Speedway(college station)…and the “backwards” configuration shows the use of turn 2.

    @DG, actually, Toyota does use the Lexus brand to race in the Rolex Series (GrandAm) and Honda uses the Acura marque in ALMS.

    My vote is for Long Beach, what a spectacular venue. It’s our Monaco!

  14. Barret – I’m no expert on bikes, but I understand the track configuration was changed to allow the Moto GP bikes to use the track without having to use the banked turn, presumably because of the lack of run-off.

  15. Just found this post.

    As an American, I very badly want to see the US Grand Prix back. It only makes sense for F1 to be racing here. We have one of the largest car markets in the world, and we have one of the highest volumes of F1 fans in the world. The country has one of the longest and most storied racing traditions in the world, and the greatest motor sport in the world should be part of it.

    With that said, I think Indianapolis is a very poor venue for the Grand Prix. For one, F1 doesn’t really “own” the circuit in the way that IndyCar does, as the Indianapolis 500 had established tradition there long before F1 had gotten there. There are some other, and probably better, options out there.

    One option that I think would be quite intriguing is the Daytona road course. It is already famed for use in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and IndyCars currently test there. The main concern right now would be the bumpiness of the oval corners used there which would be hell on F1 suspensions, so the track would have to be repaved. There would certainly be concern also about the banking in the oval corner at 31 degrees, but I would have to say I would be damned interested to see how a F1 car handles it.

    I think the best option for F1 in America, though, would be to bring back the Las Vegas street circuit, perhaps with modification (including the strip?). This would establish a true festivity associated with the series: the world’s greatest racing at America’s (and perhaps the world’s) greatest spectacle town. The city has nice, wide streets with long stretches of road that would make ideal straights and nice, tight corners with scenic backdrops. It’s got the show, the glitz (to an increasing tune, with The Wynn and several more billion dollar hotels coming), and certainly enough drinking establishments to keep Kimi Raikkonen happy. What more does a F1 circuit need?

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