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New F1 chairman Carey keen to develop fan base in America

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New Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey is keen to capitalize on the opportunity the series has in American and develop its American fan base in the long-term.

Liberty Media Corporation confirmed earlier this week that it would be acquiring F1 in a deal worth $8 billion, subject to approval from all third parties.

Liberty announced that 21st Century Fox vice-chairman Carey would be taking over as chairman of F1, working alongside CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

The arrival of an American company in the management of the sport led to speculation that there may be additional F1 races in the United States to bolster the series’ presence.

Carey and Ecclestone spoke with reporters on Thursday about the opportunities that lie in the United States, a market F1 has enjoyed a mixed relationship with for much of its history.

When asked if Liberty would work to crack the US market, Ecclestone said: “I hope they do, I really do.

“I’ve been knocking doors there for an awful long time.”

Carey spoke widely about the opportunities presented in the United States, but hastened to add that F1 needed to protect its European roots.

“I want it to be made clear we didn’t make this move because of America,” Carey said.

“America’s an opportunity. I think we can do a lot more in America. It’s probably more long-term than short-term.

“It will take time to build the audience, but there’s a much more passionate fan base than anyone recognizes in America. I think we can do a lot to develop that.

“Realistically it’s a global sport. We’re not trying to Americanize the sport. I think we have great respect for the European foundations of it. Europe is critically important to us, to build on that, opportunities to grow it.

“Certainly, the US is a big opportunity long-term, but this isn’t an American company Americanizing the sport. This is a great global sport, a great franchise, and it’s one we’re going to continue to build with the things Bernie’s built over the decades.

“It is an evolution. This a great sport with great brands, great franchises, great stars, great technology. We want to make it everything it can be and continue to build it and work with Bernie to make it bigger and better.”

Ecclestone and Carey were asked about their respective roles, with some observers believing there is a need for F1 to have a single leader.

“We’re dictators,” Ecclestone joked when reminded of former Renault F1 chief Flavio Briatore’s belief that the sport needed a dictator.

“We’re going to work together,” Carey added.

“The best businesses are partnerships. We’ll work together as a team and that’s my goal, to work together as a team.”

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).