Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein fears a “parking lot race” in Miami would damage Formula 1 in the United States.
F1 has been keen to add more races in the U.S., and a proposed event in Miami is the most advanced project. After failing to secure a downtown location, attention has turned to a layout around the Hard Rock Stadium, and Epstein is concerned a race that doesn’t have the right image could be damaging to the sport’s attempts to grow Stateside.
“The selling point behind Miami was not the track, it was the (original) backdrop,” Epstein told ESPN. “They said we want to be in global destinations with iconic backdrops. It does seem very off-brand of them to have a parking-lot race.
“We don’t worry from a ticket sales point of view. I don’t worry that that will become a fan favorite. It’s not going to be a spectacular track. But I do worry the impact it would have long-term in this market.”
Despite COTA’s status as the host of the only F1 race in the U.S. at present, Epstein insists he is happy to have further rounds in America if it adds value to F1 as a whole.
“I have never had a problem with another race in the same time zone and I’ve always welcomed the push for more U.S. races, but only if done the correct way,” he said. “We dealt with the issues around the addition of the Mexican Grand Prix and the loss of revenue that initially gave us, but it’s clear they’ve built something there.”
Epstein also believes Liberty should be more engaged with his promotion team in terms of learning how COTA has made a success of the event after selling out this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
“If you asked me, when Liberty bought the business – since we’ve been the only one promoting F1 in the U.S. and have been so successful in it – have they asked us how we’ve done it? Have they asked us for any help in building the sport in the U.S.? Have they asked us for any advice? In every case I would say no.”