Tonight the official F1 website has announced that the United States Grand Prix is to return to the calendar in 2012 in Austin, Texas.
The deal runs through to 2021 and the promoters are going to create a purpose built facility to host the event. Austin is a thriving “It” city in the USA with a strong technology sector and a dynamic reputation.
F1 has been hunting around for years for a purpose built track in the USA, along the lines of what we see in Bahrain, China or Abu Dhabi. Recently there has been a lot of chatter about a US GP returning with New Jersey being touted and more recently Monticello in upstate New York. It seems that Eccletsone has had a lot of irons in the fire hoping that one of them would come good.
The Texas deal flies in the face of the received wisdom that in order to succeed in the USA a race needs to be held wither near New York or in California, close to fans of European cars or large expatriate communities, especially Italian.
In addition to the promoter Full Throttle Productions, the event seems to enjoy some backing from state government, possibly along the lines of the “shared risk” business model which has worked well in Singapore where a local government works alongside a promoter and underwrites the major expenses, to the point at which it becomes profitable.
The announcement indicates that this project has been underway for “several years” and Austin appears to be the first past the post.
A US Grand Prix is considered essential for a sport which considers itself truly global. For many of the manufacturers and companies involved in the sport it is the number one market.
There is a major push to bring the USA under the F1 umbrella. The failure of the USF1 team was an embarrassment, but now it seems that there are efforts to resurrect the idea of an American team and You Tube founder Chad Hurley is still linked with this.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has a better idea, he believes. He said in an interview today that he dreams of a third Ferrari in the stars and stripes colours.