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. Steve K said on 17th June 2008, 2:24

    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.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestone_Firehawk_600

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

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th June 2008, 9:18

    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.

  3. Barret said on 17th June 2008, 16:43

    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!

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th June 2008, 17:25

    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.

  5. Paige said on 10th August 2008, 17:46

    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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