Formula One lost the US Grand Prix for this year, negotiations between Indianapolis Speedway boss Tony George and F1 ‘boss’ Bernie Ecclestone breaking down before an agreement could be reached. The loss of the race is a real shame and a blow for the sport, particularly the manufacturers who were enjoying the advertising in their largest market. But there have been hopes of Formula One returning to the brickyard, and today George said he is working on it, but despite this, it is still 50:50 at the moment.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is celebrating its centennial in 2009, and George wants a grand prix there; he likes Formula One. In 2007 George collected a trophy for ‘The Best Organised Race of the Year’ or something similar, so clearly Formula One likes him. Or his track, at least. But in between the hopes and dreams lie money, and George is said to be chasing potential sponsors at the moment to help secure a position on next year’s calendar.
It’s 50/50, that it’s safe. The last conversation I had was probably in February. For planning purposes, we would need to know fairly soon if it’s part of our ’09 calendar. They [FOM] don’t necessarily need to know now. They can wait until August, September, October to announce their calendar, and that doesn’t work for us.
It won’t happen until we get some more commercial support – a title sponsor or whatnot. There is still a gap to be bridged in the finances for it to make sense. Tony George.
Support for a US Grand Prix among the fans is quite high, but as I’ve mentioned several times before on the website, I am not all that keen on the infield circuit at Indy. I find it uninspiring and boring. Yes, the banked corner and start/finsh straight is awesome, and the place is brimming with history and tradition. But in all honesty, I’d rather see the cars on the full oval than run around the Mickey Mouse layout they carve through the middle.
I’m not the only one who thinks this either. Allow me to introduce Bill to this post. Bill occasionally pops his head around the door and leaves comments here, and a while back he sent me an email following my last attempt to get the race moved to a more F1-appropriate circuit via moaning and grumbling. Bill’s views are direct from America, and his insights into how the sport is viewed over-yonder are interesting. Here are a few excerpts from his email…
I am American, and I go to Montreal when I can, but have been to USGP at Indy every year it was there. Do I love it? Yes and no.
No because I agree with you – the track is pretty much crap. Yes, for multiple reasons. First – it is F1 in my country. There is no bigger thrill for a fan than to hear cars in front of you in anger. It doesn’t matter if it was a parking lot. If you are a fan, you get chills.[…]
We as Americans don’t know squat about the personalities of the F1 drivers. Until recently we didn’t have Top Gear (where I did see Webber and Button in re-runs of the show), we don’t see the talk shows, so we have no personal relationship (via pop culture) with any of them. And F1 wonders why gossip-hungry Americans don’t follow the sport? We don’t know who they are![…]
F1 fans here in the states cannot get the digital feed, despite the races being broadcast digitally. We cannot get internet feeds, we don’t know the drivers outside of the sport (for example on talk shows), we have a mickey-mouse track, one of our announcers (the “esteemed” David Hobbs) calls Alonso “Fred”, Massa “Phil”, and every two years while you in the UK wonder if you will have a home race, we wonder if we will even have TV coverage anymore. Bill Adkins.
So it seems that while I may be bashing Indianapolis a fair amount, Bernie and his merry band of men also need to sort out the sport’s coverage in America. Interlagos is usually a sell-out race (perhaps because of its psition on the calendar) and Canada is always a popular race (perhaps because it’s on a decent circuit) so Formula One does well in the North and South. But in the middle is a huge market full of people actually wanting Formula One. It’s crazy that it isn’t happening. Just plain crazy!