This year, we will see Formula 1 make a return to the United States in the Austin Grand Prix in November. Over the past decade, Formula 1 has expanded to many new places, mostly in developing countries. F1 will return to the United States for the first time in 2007, meaning that the sport has been absent for five years now. With a race in New Jersey planned for the 2013 season, the reaction from the viewers in the United States, and also around the world, is critical.
Many new races, such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, have been criticized heavily by Formula 1 fans as boring tracks designed specifically to make money for the F1 franchise. Whether this is true or not, many F1 fans prefer the classic European tracks such as Monza, Spa, and Silverstone. The fact that Spa will now alternate with a French GP every year has made several fans upset, and many fans asking for Formula 1 to return to its European roots. Will the new races in the United States be a further digression from the classical European F1, or will the United States provide exciting races that attract both international and domestic approval?
I spent last night watching the Sao Paolo 300 Indycar race. It was the first Indycar race I was able to watch this season (I live in India and usually do not get the opportunity to watch American races). I was curious to see the race firstly because it was a street race, and also because I wanted to see how Rubens Barrichello was coping with his debut season in the Indycar season. I was happy to see that Rubens finished in 10th position, and was running up in 5th at one point during the race; he looked quite competitive.
The more important factor here, however, is the racing. It was great. I was somewhat confused and naive at points as I know nothing about the teams, drivers, or strategies. Despite this, the racing was close, exciting, and left me wondering why I didn’t spent more time following the Indycar series.
Watching this race made me think -Will F1 work in the United States? If American motorsports fans already have their own “F1” to watch, why should they be interested in attending an F1 race. There are two sides to the coin on this question. A pessimistic opinion would claim that American fans should have no interest in F1 since they already have their own super-competitive series to watch, and know nothing about the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel, and therefore will have no interest. A more positive outlook would say that American fans are curious to witness the “pinnacle of motorsport” for themselves, and will be hooked if the races are exciting.
There is a motorsport following in America, there really is. European fans often criticize Americans of watching cars go around in circles for hours, a feat that many claim takes no skill at all. Many European fans have never watched a Nascar or Indycar race, and haven’t noticed that the racing is always close, always rough, and always thrilling, even if the cars are driving around one ring. I hope that the American population will be open to the F1 races coming to Texas and to New Jersey, and I am sure that if they see an F1 race in person, they are incredibly likely to follow the sport for good. I encourage anyone who has never watched an Indycar or Nascar race (especially a circuit race such as Infineon) to do the same. True fans of racing will love both series.