Hembery: Losing Austin would be “phenomenally negative” for F1

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has expressed his dismay over the uncertain future being faced by the United States Grand Prix, believing that Formula 1 should be doing more to appeal to the American audience.

Just three years after the US GP was revived at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, its future looks bleak following the state’s decision to cut the tax relief the event receives. The race is listed as being ‘subject to agreement’ on the 2016 F1 calendar as a result.

In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Hembery raised the idea of a three-part F1 world championship that would focus on particular regions.

Hembery’s idea features one championship in Europe, one in Asia and Australasia and one in the Americas, before crowning an overall champion at the end of the year.

“I will be talking to Bernie [Ecclestone] (pictured left) shortly about this,” Hembery said. “I haven’t worked out the logistical problems. It’s up to the teams to do that. But this is all about getting more interest in Formula 1, and particularly in the Americas.

“The market people all say the same thing, which is that the biggest problem in F1 is with the timings. They are all for Europe, which means in America they have to get up ridiculously early to watch the racing.

“There are so many barbed comments about F1 being boring. And if we’re not careful we’re going to talk ourselves into a sport which nobody wants to watch. We are in danger of creating our own downfall.”

Hembery spoke out about the possible loss of Austin, saying that it should be joined on the F1 calendar by more races in the USA to raise the sport’s profile in the American market.

“To lose Austin so soon after getting there – and it’s a good circuit and a well organised show which the fans enjoy – would be phenomenally negative for the sport,” Hembery said.

“I also think it’s important to have a race in California. With this regional idea we could create a concentrated interest in the sport and help build a real fanbase.

“If we carry on making Formula 1 for European television we will end up with a Europe-only audience.”