Viva Las Vegas: F1 adds Strip as it expands to 3 stops in the US
The United States will be the only country on the 2023 calendar to host three F1 races in one season after it was announced on Wednesday for a Saturday night race on the famous Las Vegas Strip. F1 has raced at Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas since 2012, and in May it will make its debut in Miami.
Barring any surprises, existing races in Mexico City and Montreal will bring F1 to North America five times next season.
Is it too much for a single market?
Bobby Epstein, president of COTA, thinks there is enough interest to support three races in the United States. It could barely draw 100,000 spectators over a three-day weekend five years ago; COTA had over 300,000 last year and is already sold out for its October race.
F1’s first race in Miami in May ended in a single day.
“Before we opened, there was very little interest or awareness in America for Formula 1 because they weren’t present here,” Epstein told The Associated Press. “The first few years, it’s hard to know if you have a shiny new object or if you have something that people really love and keep coming back for and not just being curious about.
“What you can’t buy is history and you can’t buy tradition. You have to do it and earn it. The crowds here have told us that we are absolutely doing something right.
NASCAR is America’s top series and already races 13 miles from the Strip on the oval of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. NASCAR last week made its second COTA appearance.
IndyCar is America’s version of F1 and the most diverse series in the world with its mix of road and street courses, as well as ovals. But the open-wheel series has never challenged F1, even though European drivers are now migrating to IndyCar.
F1 didn’t focus much on the United States until Liberty Media Corp. bought the rights to the series in 2017. The American company has since targeted expansion in the United States and received a massive boost from the Netflix docuseries “Drive To Survive”.
Season four dropped ahead of F1’s season opener this month and Netflix said the peek behind the velvet inside the series ranked No. 1 in 33 countries when it aired. its opening weekend. ESPN, meanwhile, said viewership for Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia broke the network’s single-week record and was ESPN’s biggest F1 viewership since 1995.
“The momentum of Formula 1 has been demonstrated over the past few seasons and we have seen that potential turn into reality as we watch our fan base grow around the world, but especially here in the United States,” said said Greg Maffei, President and CEO. of Liberty Media, told The Associated Press.
F1 will promote the event alongside Liberty, who take on the additional role due to their confidence in the market. F1 has signed an initial three-year contract for the race, but the exact date of the race has not been revealed beyond the fact that it will be a Saturday evening in November on a temporary 3.8 street course. miles which will use the iconic Las Vegas Boulevard.
“It’s somewhat different for us in that we play a bigger role because of our belief in opportunity and our belief in Las Vegas,” Maffei said.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali added: “The best races on the planet will be held in the entertainment capital of the world. Formula 1 has huge momentum and we are growing around the world and the United States is a priority for us, there is no doubt. »
No other country hosts more than two races per season. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the city expected 170,000 race weekend visitors to account for 400,000 hotel nights and an estimated economic impact of half a billion dollars.
But while F1 chases the US dollar, it does so with very little US representation.
Michael Andretti, son of 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti, is desperate to land a two-car team and a $420 million takeover of the existing Sauber team collapsed late last year. Andretti has since requested the extension to the 10-team grid.
He would like to bring in F1 driver Colton Herta, the Californian who turned 22 on Wednesday and is an IndyCar title contender. Herta has signed a test contract with McLaren and will be assessed by that team later this year.
Maffei was quick to point out that F1 already has an American team; Haas F1 is owned by American businessman Gene Haas, who operates part of the organization alongside his NASCAR operation in North Carolina.
But Haas was F1’s worst team last year and Andretti publicly called on Haas to sell him the F1 team. Haas refused to sell and through the first two races appears to be a much improved team.
Gene Haas was forced to give up both his Russian pilot and the sponsorship that Nikita Mazepin brought from his father’s fertilizer company after Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks before the opening of the season. The team somehow came out stronger and scored points in the first two races of the season.
F1 and Liberty agree the series needs more American representation – teams, drivers, sponsors, all of it – but Domenicali said it couldn’t be an artificial effort. F1 won’t admit a team owner just to continue growing in the US
“It’s important, but it has to be real,” Domenicali told AP. “People make the difference, they are the protagonists. But it has to be real, (the driver) has to be quick, otherwise it wouldn’t work. It is a journey that is not easy to accomplish. It will take time, but for sure, that is our goal.
“From a business point of view, from the point of view of the organizer or the promoter who wants to develop the activity in the United States, an American driver would be very good.”
AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.
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