The first year of any new Formula 1 race in America will hurt the United States Grand Prix but then become a challenge for the newer venue, according to Circuit of the Americas CEO Bobby Epstein.
The USGP has been held at COTA since 2012, giving F1 a permanent home in America for the first time since an ill-fated attempt to race at Indianapolis. The race in Austin, Texas has been a strong addition to F1’s calendar and the sport is keen to increase its footprint in the States, with a second race in Miami still being pursued at Hard Rock Stadium, and Epstein believes a new addition will have an initial impact on his event when eventually delivered.
“The first year will be painful (for COTA),” Epstein told RACER. “After that I think the pendulum swings.
“It is very difficult to get a race off the ground, and it’s even harder to have longevity. One thing that everyone’s learned in this sport is you can lose massive amounts of money. The first year will always be gangbusters, it’s what happens in the third, fourth and fifth year and whether someone’s going to have the staying power.
“Even we had our concerns after the second and third year, and so it’s nice to see that we’re established and made it through. I don’t think it would be obvious, you’re not going to be able to judge the success of a new race in the first year, it’s going to be the third year. Getting one off the ground is very difficult, and it is hard to succeed but people won’t realize that until a few years in.
“I do think they’ll have other races in the US. It’s hard to get done, but eventually it happens.”
And Epstein believes COTA is set for its biggest race since its inaugural event in 2012, something he feels is partly due to the success of the event in the past but also F1 managing to appeal to new fans.
“Ticket sales are second now to the first year,” Epstein said. “We can see it, it’s a combination of returning people – particularly the campgrounds growing – and people that loved the Netflix series. I think a good part of the delta of the growth is actually in people who watched the show and they’re first time visitors.
“It’s terrific. It really is good to see how many people are returning too, and I think that they are fans of the event. I think we have those that are hardcore fans of the sport, but that’s about half the people that come. The other half are ones who this is an event and festival for.”