Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein wants the United States Grand Prix to revert to its usual date after 2019, when a date swap with Mexico will cause a clash with NASCAR.
The Austin circuit has traditionally formed the first part of a doubleheader with the Mexican Grand Prix since the race in Mexico City returned to the calendar in 2015, but on next season’s calendar the two races have swapped places. That switch has led to the USGP taking place on the same weekend as the fall NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway, and while Epstein says such a clash is not ideal, he believes it would have been avoided if possible.
“We like our date in October — we’re happy with it,” Epstein told RACER. “Our preference is October, but I think Mexico had a conflict so we switched.
“It’s not ideal to go up against NASCAR. Texas is a very big state and the motor speedway in Fort Worth that has a NASCAR event that day is four hours away, and we don’t see a lot of overlap in terms of the fans. But even if there’s one, you still want to try and accommodate as many as we can.
“So it’s not ideal, and I’m sure if F1 could logistically work it they wouldn’t try to do this either. It’s not to anyone’s advantage. It’s not like they look at it and say, ‘Let’s put it on the same day as a NASCAR race.’ It’s not being done to hurt NASCAR, it’s just unfortunate for the fans that have to choose between the two.
“And, I think in some cases there are sponsors in common and it forces them to choose where to focus their resources. So everyone knows it’s not ideal. I’m sure that what caused the flip was because Mexico didn’t have flexibility that year.”
Asked if he sees the change in date to have the USGP held in early November being a one-off, Epstein replied: “I hope so! It’s not the best weekend for us either, but going any later in November is far less desirable.
“In fairness to the Liberty guys … years ago we bumped into the date with Texas Motor Speedway (2014) and I know they tried to make an effort to avoid that date. It is the case sometimes in a transition that some of that institutional knowledge is unintentionally lost.”