The potential Miami Grand Prix has prompted excitement as well as concern and while Formula 1 has been rumored to have done a “special” deal with promoters—which has raised the ears of other promoters paying full-tilt for the privilege—it now seems that the deadline for the Miami Grand Prix has passed according to a report at Forbes.
On the heels of that news, there has been some folks wondering where this leaves the USGP in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). COTA president, Bobby Epstein says it isn’t good:
“I think in the long term it can be good. But there is a risk. There is clearly a risk to diluting the product before the fan base has increased.
“But when the long-term goal is to increase the fan base, it is a chicken or egg scenario. Which comes first? In the early years, it remains to be seen if that is a positive for us.
“The first year, you haven’t increased the fan base but you’ve increased the options, so it will be tough at first. We will see how it impacts us.”
Will it dilute the US fan base? Epstein remains positive but according to the report, he would like it moved to another date for obvious reasons:
“We would obviously like to see us separated as far away from other races that are competing for the same fans, so we don’t force them to make a choice,” he added.
“Logistically that has to make sense for everyone and it is tough to see a way around it, but forcing the fan to choose is of no help to anyone.”
The issue, for me, is that F1 has stated they would like to increase F1 in the US and that’s great but it does present a challenge with Bobby who is still paying for the legacy model. I doubt he had exclusives on any race in the US but if he’s paying million per year for the privilege while Miami is rumored to have a freebie or paying very little, it does suggest an issue.
F1 wants a destination city and making a sweet deal to get one suggests that Austin isn’t. F1 also seems to be looking at Formula E’s model of trying to find street circuits and epicenters of population as well as amenities and other attractions to draw crowds. Bobby make a singular point that resonates with me but I’m a purpose-built circuit snob:
“There are hundreds of millions of people in North American so my mindset is to be optimistic,” he explained.
“There is a huge difference between a street race from the fan experience, from the TV side, and from the race competition.
“This track is designed for competition and we know that it has a lot of overtaking opportunities.
“I’m certainly a little apprehensive, but very optimistic that it is a race against time as to whether or not you can build the fan base before the pain of splitting up the fans takes its toll.”
If F1 is paying attention to the voice of the fans on social media and forums, they’ll notice that a few street courses are great but a bunch of them isn’t. I’ve seen a lot of pushback on that current focus regardless of what Herman Tilke says about it. IF F1 can’t afford or find purpose-built circuits to race on, then they have bigger problems than we thought and must be trying to sell street circuits as the new “trend”…and we all want to be in on the new “trend” right?