Simon Pagenaud, Penske, Barber Motorsport Park, IndyCar, 2018

US road circuits unlikely to hold new F1 races

2018 F1 season

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Formula 1 is likely to add further US races on street tracks rather than permanent road courses, according to CEO Chase Carey.

The sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media has targeted the US as a key market it wishes to expand in. A street race in Miami is already under consideration for a place on the 2019 F1 calendar alongside the existing race at the Circuit of the Americas.

The USA has many other permanent road courses though only one of them, the Indianapolis grand prix circuit, also has the necessary FIA grade one licence to hold F1 races. The track held F1 races between 2000 and 2007 but is now used by IndyCar, along with other permanent circuits Barber Motorsport Park (pictured), Road America, Mid-Ohio, Portland and Sonoma. Other major US circuits include former F1 venues Watkins Glen and Sebring, plus Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta.

But Carey told RaceFans last week: “the races in the US are more likely to be street circuits.”

“I don’t see the cost of projects like Texas – good for them, they built that track – but that’s a significant undertaking to build a track,” he added.

However Carey didn’t rule out the possibility of taking F1 to existing circuits not currently on the calendar outside the US, as is being done at the next round of the current season.

“There obviously are tracks you can go to around the world like Paul Ricard, an existing track, we’re going to it this year,” he said.

“I think it matters in different regions in the world what those opportunities are and what exists. But again it’s evaluating each opportunity on its merits and it’s one of many things.

“It’s quality of circuit, the feel of the location as a destination city that captures the world’s imagination. The level of public sector support, corporate support, there’s an array of things that go into having a balance geographically.”

Carey said F1 has had many approaches from potential race hosts but prefers to keep details under wraps until an agreement is in place.

“Obviously our interest in Miami has gone public just because of the process of votes there,” he said. “So that’s not a deal that’s been done.”

“And just because of the public visibility there’s places we’ve visited that everyone’s aware of. We’ve visited Vietnam.”

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  • 52 comments on “US road circuits unlikely to hold new F1 races”

    1. There are ready too many street circuits in F1, we don’t need more. I suspect that Liberty are trying to get people to these city races because of the extra’s rather than for the good of the sport.

      If F1 is to survive it needs to attract fans by having more races on free-to-view or cheap streaming services. Without attracting more fans the sport will die.

      I and my son will probably transfer our motor sport to other formats, like WEC, if costs remain high and we get too many boring street races which are usually follow my leader after the first few corners.

      1. In fairness they are working on and will tackle the follow my leader thing, and since the already have a dedicated race at COTA, I see a street circuit somewhere that is more affordable to put on, and I presume more affordable to attend, then I say why not? There is a market for another race in the US, and so going along with the theme of ‘free’ TV coverage, streaming, less expensive to attend, etc etc I think a street circuit is just what they need in the US.

        1. Forbes did an analysis and it came out to 100 million a year to do a street race or a circuit race. With the permanent circuits most of that money has to be paid up front if you are building a new one. That’s figured over a ten year period for both types. So I’m guessing the least costly race to put on would be at a circuit that has been in operation for over tens years. Do a search for the article, it’s really interesting:)

        2. Oh and I agree free to air is so important. What they did to Britain and Italy is so incredibly shortsighted, but that’s how Bernie was at the end . Hopefully Liberty will see that.

        3. The street races, Monaco, Melbourne and Singapore have always been follow my leader in dry weather conditions. It is not a new phenomenon, it is just a bit worse now. Baku is saved by the excessively long straight, but is still a boring race, only alleviated by team members taking each other out ;-)

      2. if street tracks are like baku or montreal they will be very interesting

      3. @w-k, there is the possibility that some of those circuits may be off limits due to Indycar – the Indycar series is reported to have inserted “non compete” clauses into their contracts with some circuits to prevent them from holding an F1 race there.

    2. I think sebring and Road America would be cool, I don’t understand why they looking at so much new street tracks. I would rather have sepang and buddh back than a street race in vietnam

      1. Because you’re only looking at it from a circuit enjoyment perspective.

      2. Sebring’s surface is one of the worst in the world and Road America, while a fantastic track, is geographically in the middle of nowhere. Realistically speaking, Road Atlanta or Laguna Seca and Long Beach (even though its a street circuit) would be the best bets for preexisting tracks considering location and track quality.

        1. However, not only are they not up to F1 standards in terms of run offs etc but particularly facilities, there is also a large percentage of racing fans that do not want to see those circuits ‘ruined’ with F1 style modernization. They are wonderful traditional venues with rich histories and they should be left alone to continue to be thus.

        2. Road America is less in the middle of the nowhere than Sebring- it’s an hour north of Milwaukee and 3 hours north of Chicago. Sebring is an hour and a half from Tampa and Orlando and 3 hours from Miami. Sebring is also the least glamorous place I’ve ever been to for a motor race- the kind of place that is way, way out of touch with F1. I remember once I went there for the 12 Hours in 2010 and the whole place was effectively a huge mud-pit: there were crowds of people riding around in muddy pickup trucks with car seats nailed to the outside boot in the back (something you’ll only see in th American South), awful viewing facilities and bridges so dangerous that once crossed made my hair stand up on end. And it was still the best motor racing event I’ve been to.

        3. I would LOVE to see Road Atlanta on the calendar. Probably in my top 5 favorite tracks. Someone had an older modern Ferrari F1 car there earlier this year, bask in the glory of engine noise here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KHde5avjiE

      3. @ecwdanselby I think he explained it pretty well. The sport needs to expand. Attract young people. Become events altogether like Singapore not just races. They need to be affordable and sustainable. It’s much cheaper to do a street race than to build an $800m facility that get’s barely used like Korea, Malaysia, Turkey, and India. Street circuits don’t need to be bad. I think they have a pretty good understanding and willingness to build tracks that make for good racing. I get a sense that it’s mostly middle-aged + petrol-heads who think that F1 is dying because of the changes.

      4. Sebring will never again host an F1 race without the back straight being repaved with glass-smooth asphalt, and it would destroy part of Sebring’s character. Without changing at least that section of the track, the Pirelli’s would be popping like balloons all through the race.

        There are a number of really good, grade 2 tracks in the USA– Watkins Glen, Barber, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sonoma, and, much to my surprise, Sebring. Most of those tracks, though, are also in the middle of nowhere, and aren’t set up to handle the kind of crowds F1 wants.

        1. Mark in Florida
          13th June 2018, 23:27

          Sebring while it is in the middle of nowhere can handle as much more than most tracks. I was there one year when they announced that 230,000 over the three day period. I for one would not like to see F1 at Sebring it would destroy the spirit of the track. Sebring is known as a brutally tough place that’s why teams come from Europe to run the 12 hour race. If a race car can survive Sebring it will survive Le Mans because whatever can break will break there.

    3. Formula 1 is likely to add further US races on street tracks rather than permanent road courses

      Dallas and Las Vegas confirmed.

      1. @davidnotcoulthard Wrong. Nothing’s confirmed. That wording doesn’t mean anything at all in regards to those two cities that you brought up. BTW. Dallas has never even been mentioned anywhere concerning this particular topic anyway.

        1. @jerejj I mean that as a joke (those were 2 pretty bad venues, as pointed out in the link)

          1. @davidnotcoulthard Of course, I didn’t initially get it, how surprising, LOL.

        2. Laguna Seca. Now that really would be attractive to F1 fans.
          Just imagine the opening lap of an F1 race at the dry lake……
          Wow….

      2. @davidnotcoulthard Vegas would be such a fun venue. If they manage to create a good layout it would become an instant classic.

        1. Like last time there was a Vegas GP??? It was classic- but for wrong reasons…

        2. @davidnotcoulthard @ajpennypacker I have done a few of my own Las Vegas layout ideas. There are plenty of development spaces for a pit and paddock area east of the strip, then they could basically race up the strip with a few chicanes, and back down, taking a detour back to the start straight.

          It doesn’t sound very good, although as always the layout is only part of the picture. A high speed street circuit lined with barriers, like Baku, could be quite cool

          1. Absolutely agree. It’s also usually way more fun to attend a street race than one at a track. Not all, but in general my experiences on street circuits have always been remarkable. Even when the racing wasn’t great like at Monaco, it’s always special to be so close to the cars.

    4. Pick any road course in the US and none of them will invest the money to upgrade their facilities to FIA standards. And there is little chance of F1 ever returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So that only leave street courses(or maybe interior road courses inside large ovals) and if they want a good one, revive the Burke Airport track in Cleveland once used by the Champ Car series.

      1. “…if they want a good one, revive the Burke Airport track in Cleveland…”

        “It’s … the feel of the location as a destination city that captures the world’s imagination.”

      2. Yeah, Cleveland doesn’t exactly have the glamorous vibe that we all think is so important (according to Cary), but it sure would be cool to see F1 cars on that track. They could probably manage some overtaking on that circuit.

        1. “Heeellooooo Cleveland!”
          – Danny on the podium in Miami

    5. While I would support more traditional circuits I’m a big fan of street circuits because they can be built purely for F1 without having to cater to bikes and track days with vast run off.

      1. Agreed and also, as with FE, you are bringing the track and the race ‘to the people’ rather than having them commit to going to an outlying area to attend a race. Street circuits allow people to attend while easily getting home to sleep in their own beds on each of the three days of a race.

    6. Sebring’s surface is one of the worst in the world and Road America, while a fantastic track, is geographically in the middle of nowhere. Realistically speaking, Road Atlanta or Laguna Seca and Long Beach (even though its a street circuit) would be the best bets for preexisting tracks considering location and track quality.

    7. Why not race on an oval?

      1. Because cars should have the ability to turn left as well as right. It’s a requirement of most road cars.

      2. F1 cars are not designed for that type of driving.

      3. TeselOfSkylimits
        14th June 2018, 15:51

        Because F1 cars are not build for them. F1 cars have so much downforce that even on a high-speed setting (like one for Monza) you’d put your foot hard down on accelerator and just leave it there until it’s pit time.

    8. Neil (@neilosjames)
      13th June 2018, 17:10

      “…a destination city that captures the world’s imagination.”

      Am I just a lone, weird outlier who doesn’t understand how – to any significant degree – a dull street circuit in a random bit of Miami (for example) is going to ‘capture the world’s imagination’?

      Driving round skyscrapers in central New York and pitting next to the Empire State Building… yes, maybe. But there are only really a handful of cities in the world with that sort of iconic, unique look and feel, coupled with global recognition of significant landmarks. NYC, London, Paris, Rome, Las Vegas, Moscow, Cairo, Istanbul, Tokyo, a few others. And even in those, you’d need to park it in the tourist areas to get any real ‘wow’ effect.

      But Miami? I know it’s big and it’s meant to have a nice beach but to me it’s just another large city. It’s not ‘imagination-capturing’ level, and nor are 95% of the other big cities in the US. Outside of New York and Las Vegas, I’d prefer a road course in the back end of beyond.

      1. @neilosjames I think the appeal is pretty obvious, you simply happen to disagree with it. Miami is a great venue. There glamour, money, diversity, beach, easy access, recognizable. More importantly, it’s much more affordable and uncomplicated than some of those more iconic venues, especially NYC and Moscow. Finally, “imagination-capturing” probably means different things to different people, but the way I see it, F1 is looking for some good solid foundation to create big events like in Singapore, where the race is part of an larger event with concerts, parties, shows etc. You don’t need one of the A-list of world cities. But you definitely cannot accomplish that in 100km away from an urban center.

      2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        13th June 2018, 17:56

        Have you been to Miami? It’s a culture medley with extravagance at every corner. While Miami might not be as iconic as, say, NYC. It’s still one of the more iconic cities in the USA, and is definitely a tourist destination city. It is the #3 international tourist destination in North America, only behind NYC and LA. Miami is also ranked 12th in the world, based on money spent by international travelers. I would gladly rate it with Chicago, Philly, LA or any other “iconic” US city. It’s also the 7th largest metropolitan area in the USA.

        As far as ‘capture the world’s imagination”, Miami is a very vibrant city with a lot of trendy young people (the exact people F1 is trying to appeal to). Will a dull circuit appeal to you, me, or most of RaceFan’s readers? Unlikely. But the event and the supporting events/parties/festivals/etc will certainly appeal to those “trendy” people in Miami.

    9. pastaman (@)
      13th June 2018, 18:17

      Le sigh. Let’s spice it up with another processional race on the calendar!

      1. @pastaman: +1. Although…if Liberty can make all the races processional, then we probably won’t notice as much.

    10. I’ve been to a few F1 races around the world and my favorites are Montreal and the old USGP at Indianapolis. I guess we can see where they want to take F1. Maybe a good street track can be created in these places but F1 at a place like Long Beach would be pretty boring with the current crop of cars.

      Too bad the “party” is more important than the racing.

    11. Some things that are awesome about F1: 130R, Eau Rouge, Copse/Maggots/Becketts.

      Some things that are not on street circuits: fast corners.

      1. What’s your idea of fast? We must have differing opinions. Baku has four corners taken near or above 300 km/h. They’re more challenging than Eau Rouge or 130R (easy flat nothingness).

        1. ?? Baku has no corners that challenge the drivers- just a long straight with some high speed bends. I guess we have differing opinions. I have seen F1 cars in those corners. I haven’t been to Baku but from footage turn 13 is the only high speed corner that may have a challenge- the rest are just bends. A high speed corner is not just a corner taken at high speed- it is one that requires commitment. Due to close confines and safety these types of corners are not designed into street circuits.

    12. I don’t dislike street circuits….. However I think they really need to look at the history of street circuits in the US not just in terms of F1 but other categories as well.

      Indycar/Champcar & Sportscars in the US have over the years tried to use street circuits as a way to quickly attract a new fanbase by taking the racing to the people & more often than not it not only doesn’t work to attract new fans but also ends up as short term exercise that cost’s both the series, promoters & local city councils a lot of money with nothing to really show for it.

      1. I am much more confident that future street circuits will be done properly. Things ran differently under Bernie. If the promoter could pay hosting fees, he’d let anything go as long as FIA approved it. FIA tends to stick to regulation and safety, not the value of the show. So yeah…

    13. Phoenix.

      Enough said.

    14. Liberty like the street circuits as they can host them in city centre’s like Melbourne, for example, where locals live close to the track and visitors can get accommodation close as well. It does work well from that perspective but also may not be the best for the races and viewing. I walked to the track in Melbourne each day this year, we ate at restaurants near-by and its easy……… but everyone saw the race (also you don’t get to see much of the track so viewing is restricted- by Monaco is an exception.

      Compare this to Malaysia last year and harder to get to the track each day but the viewing at the circuit is awesome compared to Melbourne. Most of the time you can see pretty well 50% of the track so that’s much better, but on & off track activities are nowhere near as good.

      So seems Liberty looking more at “the show” rather than “the racing”. Also seems a it easier to get that Grade One licence on a street track?

    15. Michael Brown (@)
      15th June 2018, 4:54

      They should race at Willow Springs! But then again, they’d add chicanes all over the place.

    16. if they go to “cosmopolitan” cities to try for street races, it is only going to further the tremendous cost of attending a race. Those kind of cities already have prohibitive hotel prices, now you add F1 to the mix and you end up with unobtanium all over again.

      And, all F1 cares about is TV fees. Converting already successful race tracks to Level 1 FIA safety without doing stupid asphalt runoff areas should be waaaaay cheaper, and they will still sell the TV time and people will attend.

      The stands at Road America, Laguna, Mid-Ohio etc are packed for Indy races. So the finding crowds for these “middle of nowhere” venues is a mute point.

    17. US road circuits unlikely to hold new F1 races

      Formula 1 is likely to add further US races on street tracks

      rather than permanent road courses

      I read the first two statements a number of times as totally contradictory, before I realised from the addition of the word permanent what was meant. Otherwise street=road for me.

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