Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blog Swap Shop: Haven't We Been Here Before?

As part of VivaF1’s awesome Blog Swap Shop idea, Joe Ryland visits GBS from ‘across the pond’ at An F1 Blog for a guest post today:

Formula 1 will be returning to America in 2012, with a custom built track designed by Hermann Tilke. The last time F1 was in America was in 2007 at Indy, but after just a short 7 years Formula One had seemingly had enough of America. With the controversy of the 2005 Grand Prix and the tyre ‘farce’ the race felt tainted. But almost as soon as it was gone the F1 hierarchy wanted an American Grand Prix again.

Bernie Ecclestone being his usual self dithered on all sorts of plans for a US GP. After leaving Indianapolis Bernie said F1 would never return there. But just two years later, there was thought to be a chance of a Grand Prix going back to the circuit. That didn’t happen though, so Bernie needed something new to talk about. His new topic was putting on a street race in New York, and then he said a race at Indy may not be out of the question. Then, plans came out for a race in Jersey City, but almost inevitably the plans were abandoned. Shortly after, Monticello Motor Club announced they had submitted a bid for the Grand prix. That’s a lot of possibilities over a short period of time isn't it?

So after all the deviations, it was confirmed on the 25th of May that the US Grand Prix would be revived near Austin, Texas. There’s still the chance it will all go wrong like what happened to Donnington but it seems pretty certain that the F1 circus will be travelling to America in 2012. So, here’s my question, if F1 left America 3 years ago, should we all be looking forward to the return?

The sport has certainly had a love/hate relationship with the US. The first ever Formula One race at Sebring in 1959 was seen as a failure by the organisers, and when it was moved to Riverside in California it was seen the same and became another one-off. However when it was moved to Watkins Glen, it was a great success, and the Grand Prix remained there for 20 years. After dotting around to numerous venues, a very unsuccessful race was held at Phoenix for a couple years which ended in 1991. America would have to wait 9 years to get its next Formula One race. In 2000, F1 returned to America at the legendary Indianapolis Speedway. The first race drew a record crowd of 200,000 giving a clear sign of the American people’s love of Motorsport. Then in 2007, both sides couldn’t come to an agreement so yet again the United States Grand Prix would be taking a break.

So, should we be looking forward to the return of the United States Grand Prix? In my view, it’s all in the balance. If Hermann Tilke can design a worthy track and the organisers can do a good job, Formula One will certainly benefit from the American audience. But with all the big motorsports in the US like Indy, NASCAR and others, F1 will have to put on a hell of a show to win over fans and make F1 a success in America. We have seen before that huge crowds are drawn in to watch the Grand Prix and if similar numbers come in 2012 F1 should do well. By looking at the history of the US Grand Prix we can see that if the race is put on at a good track and with good coverage, the fans will follow. However, if the track is a typical Tilke-drome with little overtaking, the race may be a flop and the fans won’t go to see it when they have their much loved American motorsports. America really needs a success in F1, the failure of the USF1 team left a scar on the sport in the states and that needs to be fixed by getting a good reputation for a good race. All in all, if the race is put on well, the American revival will definitely give F1 a decent return, and besides, it’s about time F1 was in the US for the long run.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Nice article Joe.

Of course F1 should be in the USA, it's one of the biggest potential markets going and yet Bernie has been more interested in chasing who will pay the most up till now.

F1 needs a North American presence if it is truly to be a World championship otherwise it's credibility is in tatters.