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

  1. Rabi said on 16th June 2008, 1:59

    I asked this last time but didn’t really get an answer why can’t F1 use Sebring?

  2. Can someone tell me why are Mexico and Argentina not allowed to hold a race?

    No wonder fans in the America’s feel shafted – two races for the entire continent.

  3. Pink, Argentina had a track that deteriorated, and Mexico was deemed unsafe, though I think their circuit is probably a single renovation away from being acceptable for F1.

    Pete Walker, the IndyCar wrangle of the past twelve years regards the technical hurdles of racing both on streets and on ovals. Many of the teams were sick of effectively needing to develop two cars per year, and with the merger, it appears they have not really resolved this conundrum.

    Indianapolis cars rely on staggered tire sizes to give the car a tendency to turn left, ground effect downforce (which is illegal in F1), rollbars that are adjustable by the driver (illegal in F1), and a ballast that can be shifted in the car by the driver (illegal in F1), all necessary to counteract the effects of your car becoming lighter as it circles the track, burning fuel at extremely high speeds, then becomes heavy again upon refueling.

    It’s not that F1 couldn’t adapt to this, but I would ask, why require the teams to do this sort of thing for only one race per year?

    Frankly, oval racing is a separate motorsport from street and road racing. The strategies and skills are very different, for mostly environmental reasons.

  4. I would really like to see F1 back in America, but does it have to be at Indy? Surely this is where Bernie should be using his marketing and negotiating skills to promote at least one Street Circuit? He likes them after all!
    And I do mean ‘at least’ one race – as far as I can see, we could have a Canadian GP, a Texas GP and a Californian GP – either using existing tracks or brand new ones (remember the US GP in a hotel parking lot?)
    This will be the only way to bring F1 back to America, and the fact that the negotiations with Indy broke down shows that someone (presumably Bernie) is not willing to compromise.
    I wonder if its still possible for a promoter to invite the teams to race, even if it wouldn’t count towards the Championship? That would annoy Bernie immensley!

  5. Sush said on 16th June 2008, 9:57

    Chunter, wow that is some cool info, i was not aware that the driver in Indy could change the car during the race, re; weight shifting.

    to be fair F1 drivers need to sort out segragation per corner (changing the Differentials)

  6. 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?

  7. donwatters said on 16th June 2008, 12:33

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

  8. Scootin159 said on 16th June 2008, 14:45

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. @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.

  11. @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.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th June 2008, 16:01

    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).

  13. Robert McKay said on 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.

  14. donwatters said on 16th June 2008, 17:19

    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?

  15. 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.

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