Bernie Ecclestone announces Formula 1’s US return
Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone today announced that the sport will be returning to the United States from 2012.
The historic announcement comes amid much speculation with a number of motor clubs claiming to be in line to host the event for the first time since Indianapolis in 2007.
Ecclestone famously said: “Let’s see if we miss America” and it would appear he, and the F1 circus has following today’s announcement that a new track will be built in Austin, Texas.
The deal, to run until 2021, will see a purpose-built road track for F1 with state of the art facilities to rival those at recent newcomers Turkey and Abu Dhabi.
Many fans will be disappointed that the race will not be returning to former US F1 favourites such as Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca, but for F1 it is an opportunity to start afresh in a new city, without the need to fit into a circuit not originally designed for the sport.
Texas is home to more Fortune 500 company headquarters than any other state, and with a fantastic transport infrastructure coupled with the ability to bring in so many fans, it is sure to be a success with the right circuit, the right surroundings, and the right promotion.
Details on the new circuit are speculative at the moment, but the prospect of a night race under the lights of the moonlight towers that light up Austin will be something truly unique. That we already have a night race in Singapore could hamper that, but most would argue that the race will be a winner regardless of the time of day it takes place.
It remains to be seen whether American motorsport fans will welcome F1 back with open arms, and whether the majority of spectators are indeed American, or come from the wider F1 community.
With new circuits also expected in Russia, India, and South Korea, Ecclestone is taking the sport into new emerging markets which can only broaden its appeal on a global level.
Surely, however, this circuit needs to be designed in conjunction with the sport’s top drivers in order to be a true success. Another Tilke-designed single file circuit, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, will not endear itself to the American audience, nor the wider community.
We need a fun, but challenging circuit that allows for plenty of overtaking, and of course, punishes a driver who loses it. Without that the it will become just another identical circuit in a different part of the world.