It’s an idea that has been kicked around more than a time or two: Given the size of the United States and the country’s appetite for racing, would it make sense to run two Grand Prixs in America?
Several Formula 1 drivers believe it would.
“We do have the one race and this is a big, big country with a lot of sporting heritage,” Lewis Hamilton said during this week’s press conference before the United States Grand Prix. “They love intensely-fought games but also have something to look forward to – because there’s a build-up to multiple games. We only have that one race here, so the people, for example in this city or people in the close States that fly over for this one Grand Prix, which happens once a year, it’s like a festival.
“You can’t really get too excited about one festival in a season. So, that’s probably something that Liberty will be working on for the future.”
The creation of Haas F1 has already provided Americans with a home team to back. In their third year of competition, the team is battling the more established Renault for fourth place in the constructors championship and gaining ground.
Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean agrees that more races in America are needed to increase fan participation and interest.
“Well, I think, to me the obviously, answer (to how to grow the sport in America) is to get more races in the US,” Grosjean said. “I think most of the time it’s really hard for the audience to watch the Grand Prixs. It’s the middle of the night. It’s not easy to grow the fan base.”
To go along with the US-based team, an American driver is necessary.
Throughout the history of the sport, there have been a handful of Americans who competed. Mario Andretti was the most prolific. His son Michael Andretti is one of the most recent.
Phil Hill is the only American-born driver to win the drivers championship. But he did that well back in 1961.
“Try to get more races here, hopefully one American driver into F1 soon, and that will help,” Fernando Alonso said. “I think it will take a little bit of interest into the sport and have a little bit more unpredictable races is more or less what they have here. To have people expecting the unexpected until the end.”
To have a driver who speaks our language – and not just our language, but with the American version of English – is recognized to be important to Formula 1 drivers.
“Currently they don’t have an American driver. We can do our best to put on an accent and fill those boots,” Daniel Ricciardo said in his best approximation of a Texan accent. “I can try all I can – I don’t know how these boys can do it but I’ll give it a red-hot crack and see how we go.”
Well, maybe “talking like us” is not the most important thing.