You don’t need Americans for F1 to be popular in the USA


Although the popularity of Formula 1 across the Atlantic has exploded in recent years, which has been seen in the regular storming of the United States Grand Prix ticket office and the addition of races to Miami and Las Vegas on the calendar, the World Championship can only count on Haas as the only representative of the star-spangled banner on the grid. And as for the last American driver to have participated in an F1 Grand Prix, Alexander Rossi, he has not been replaced since his last appearance, in 2015.

Red Bull has nevertheless expressed interest in Colton Hertaa young IndyCar driver, in order to place him at AlphaTauri next year, however the American has not accumulated enough points in his career to qualify for the F1 Super License, and the FIA ​​has refused him any exemption. Andrettithe team for which Herta races in IndyCar, is also trying to reach the premier category, having applied to become the eleventh team on the grid, but comes up against firm opposition from the majority of the other structures.

American Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, is in favor of the arrival of compatriots in the premier class, whether drivers or teams, but believes that they are not essential to the popularity of F1 in the USA.

« I think it would be great if the two [scénarios] happen, it would showcase Formula 1 even more here [aux États-Unis] »explained Brown to Laguna Seca not long ago. « But we don’t have either today, and look how popular Formula 1 is now in America. I wish that would happen but I don’t think it has to happen, because Formula 1 is very popular today. »

Fans at Hard Rock Stadium, which hosted the Miami GP in May

Fans at Hard Rock Stadium, which hosted the Miami GP in May

Many IndyCar drivers stepped up after the FIA ​​refused to grant Herta a waiver, including Alex Rossi. The former Marussia driver, winner of the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 2016, notably deplored the limits of the Super License system. Brown also spoke of the need for reform, noting that Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen would both have been barred from F1 on their debut under the current points system.

In addition, McLaren has been one of Andretti’s few backers, with Brown ensuring his rivals were « very myopic » and didn’t think « only in their short-term interest » : « We think a little differently. I think someone like Andretti could help grow the sport. What we might lose in the short term by sharing the gains will come back with more television audiences, more sponsorship in North America, etc. A handful of teams are trying to protect their revenue and not seeing the big picture. »

Interview by David Malsher-Lopez

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