Whitmarsh: F1 needs more than one race in the USA

2011 F1 season

Tony Stewart, McLaren, Watkins Glen, 2011

Tony Stewart, McLaren, Watkins Glen, 2011

McLaren team principal and F1 teams’ association president Martin Whitmarsh says F1 has to “conquer” America.

Whitmarsh told the FOTA Fans Forum at the McLaren Technology Centre that F1 should look to having two races in the country – and its focus should be away from Texas, the destination for next year’s Grand Prix in Austin.

Whitmarsh pointed to the former F1 home of Long Beach in California and New York, where F1 previously raced at Watkins Glen, as ideal locations for Grands Prix.

He said: “I think it’s a big enough market and an important enough market that we should be over there.

“And I think – nothing against Texas, I hope that is a very successful race – the natural hinterland for us, in my view, are the east coast and west coast.

“Long Beach, around New York – those are where we’re going to really create the interest in Formula 1 and I think we’ve got to go there.”

Whitmarsh added F1 needs to work harder than before to market itself to new fans:

“We’re going to the USA but we’ve really got to go to the USA. That’s to say, going there, having the race and coming home isn’t good enough. And that’s what we’ve done in the States before.

“After football, the only other world sport is Formula 1. And we are not really in America. America doesn’t need us but I think we need to conquer it, we need to go there, maybe we need to be two races a year, we need to have a proper marketing programme, we’ve got to create the interest.

“We’ve demonstrated that, within Europe, people understand Formula 1, we’ve got a fan base, also in some parts of Asia, Japan and obviously South America. But I think what’s a worry is that we’re not doing enough. We talk about China, India, I think those are exciting markets, they’re markets [where] again, we can’t just have a race and come home. We’ve got to tyre harder.

“Formula 1 hasn’t had to sell itself in the past, the fans have come to us. We’ve got to recognise there’s lots of competition in the entertainment business, we’re just part of it. We’ve actually got to do a lot better.

“So I think we’ve got to conquer America, that’s a five-year programme, we’ve got to be on the east coast, the west coast, we’ve really got to make sure. There’s a great opportunity there. There’s obviously NASCAR in the south-east corner, but I think they could really get Formula 1 if we go there, explain, promote and market our sport.”

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90 comments on Whitmarsh: F1 needs more than one race in the USA

  1. wyo said on 1st July 2011, 16:22

    I think this is going to be a hard sell with no American drivers.

  2. Tim said on 1st July 2011, 18:06

    I think we are all a little irked when people from another country talk about our country.

    I live in the US (Nebraska). Here for racing interesting it seems the order is Nascar, then IndyCar, then F1. Drag racing might even beat out F1 and IndyCar in TV ratings.

    I love F1 and IndyCar. However, I do think the F1 organizations are deluding themselves if they think they can “conquer” the US market by holding 1, 2, or even 3 races here. If they want to build the US market to the extent of Nascar or maybe even IndyCar, it would take moving half the season to the US.

    Also, if they hold a race in the fall it will be competing against the NFL and college football. I can’t see that working out.

  3. justhuman (@justhuman) said on 1st July 2011, 19:50

    I’m from Texas and am currently living just a few miles away from another great American circuit, Virginia International Raceway, which some of you may have seen featured on an episode of Top Gear last season. There is a huge love for motorsports in America, and I think Formula 1 can attract many millions of new fans with a race in Texas and another one on either coast. However, I think the real issue is the coverage F1 receives here in the U.S.- it sucks. It sucks really, really bad. If you can catch an F1 Qualy or Race, you must either awake at 5 or 6 am, or tune in sometimes days later to watch a replay. If GP2 is covered at all, it is even earlier in the morning and only the Sunday race. Once you do manage to watch the Qualy or Race, the media absolutely ruin it with mumbled comments, idiotic statements of facts, silly jokes, and just overall uninformative gab. It’s horrible to watch and I don;t blame anyone for just turning off. Personally, I don’t watch it and often wait hours to download a torrent of the race weekend (P1 through to the Race) because the BBC coverage is so many million times better.

    If Formula 1 truly wants to establish itself in the U.S. market, they MUST pressure Speed Channel to do a far better job of covering the race weekends. I would suggest, doing that first actually. Because just changing the way Speed covers the race weekend would attract so many millions more fans that I think the U.S. fan base would ask for more races instead of F1 having to push for one. Formula 1 already has so many aspects that Americans love: racecraft, speed, technology, etc…it just needs to be marketed well.

  4. F1 98 said on 2nd July 2011, 6:25

    Hope it would be indianapolis but i doubt its going to happen

  5. SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 2nd July 2011, 10:34

    I’d love to see Road Atlanta have an F1 race but there’s precious little run-off in those esses :(

  6. Bill said on 2nd July 2011, 11:31

    I reckon a street race around Miami Beach would be pretty cool

  7. Agreed with PM. Cricket, rugby are nowhere near as a true world sports, the hype is nowhere near the Soccer World Cup for sure.

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