What does the future hold for F1 in the United States?

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Formula 1’s growth in the United States over the past few years has been rapid, as detailed in the two features published earlier today on MotorSportsTalk.

However, one eye will always be on the future. Regardless of the here and now, just how might the perception of Formula 1 in the American market change over the years to come?

The two big talking points about the future for the American F1 market are Haas F1 Team and Alexander Rossi, who could soon grace the grid. Haas has been given the green light by the FIA to go racing in 2016, and the plans are certainly coming into place quite nicely. Earlier this week, the team released a time-lapse video of its new factory being constructed in Kannapolis, and all of the plans to push ahead seem to be coming together.

Naturally, the pessimist’s comparison is to the failed US F1 project from a few years ago. After much of the same fanfare that we are experiencing now about an American team coming to the grid and beating the Europeans at their own game, the project ultimately fell flat without getting even near a full race start.

And that is the big worry for many about Haas: it would be another US F1 and another failure for the sport in the United States.

However, the big difference with Haas is that there is a very successful racing operation and business already in place. The Stewart-Haas NASCAR team acts as proof of that. There is a corporate operation behind the outfit with racing heritage. With US F1, everything was being built from the ground up. Haas has history and resources to rely on.

That does not diminish the immense challenge that Gene and his team will face, though. He even admitted himself that this is the biggest challenge he has ever faced, as it is new territory. The recent financial collapse of both Caterham and Marussia will act as warning signs that one can only hope the Haas operation will recognize and learn from – it is to be avoided at all costs.

But let’s look at the positives: say Haas gets off the ground, all goes to plan, and an American team does indeed hit the grid in 2016. All going well, it would be huge for the sport’s profile in the United States. I have written earlier today about the ‘boom’ that is currently being enjoyed in the American market, but this would only be furthered should the stars and stripes appear on the Haas car, lining up on the grid at the Circuit of The Americas in 2016.

What would make it all the sweeter is if there was an American driver behind the wheel of the car, with Alexander Rossi being the most obvious candidate. Rossi has been within touching distance of his grand prix debut on three occasions, only to be denied in each instance, meaning that he is still without a grand prix start to his name.

After appearing to jump from the sinking ship at Caterham, he has seen his F1 hopes put on ice once again following Marussia’s own collapse. However, he is still fighting, and if the team does push for an American driver, Rossi is the only man that can realistically be picked.

And this is all very encouraging. The sport is on the cusp of having two major breakthroughs for the American market, and it is something that will be embraced. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said a while back that he would like to see Ferrari run with an American driver if it ever opted for a third car, as it would do wonders for the sport’s profile. Although this particular example is a bit far-fetched, it shows that continuing the growth and evolution of the sport in the US is a key priority.

In terms of races, Austin has been and continues to be a great success. The more pressing issue is the push for a second grand prix in the United States, and whether or not it will actually happen.

The biggest charge in recent years has been for a grand prix in New Jersey, taking place around Port Imperial. It was listed on the provisional calendar for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, only to fall from both before it was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council as everything was not in check. It was not listed on the provisional schedule for the 2015 season, and with few developments coming out of GP America, hopes of a grand prix in New Jersey are dimmer than ever.

A recent report suggested that Formula 1 could be set to head to Las Vegas for a grand prix along the city’s famous Strip. Although Bernie Ecclestone was very suggestive about the project, it is a very lofty ambition that would unquestionably leave the sport jumping through hoops. It would be a short-term thing – if F1 wants a long-term marriage, stumbling into a Vegas chapel is not the way to do it.

Two races in the United States would undoubtedly be brilliant for the sport’s profile and for fans in North America. However, it must follow the same blueprint as COTA: it mustn’t be another Indy.

All in all though, the future for the sport in the United States is very bright indeed. Once again, this year’s event in Austin is set to welcome huge numbers of fans, which will likely surpass attendances seen at some of the European rounds over the summer. Throw in an American team or an American driver, and Formula 1’s success in the United States could go off the chart.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.