The mayor of Austin believes the United States Grand Prix is likely to get the go-ahead this week and is not ruling out a second race at Circuit of the Americas despite the COVID-19 situation.
Cases have been rising in both Texas and the United States recently, cooling the prospect of a doubleheader in Austin following the cancellation of the Japanese Grand Prix. With a case rate as one of the highest for the remaining races on the Formula 1 calendar, there’s been some speculation about whether the race itself will proceed as planned, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler is confident the green light will be given soon.
“I think right now we’re set to go and I’m excited about that,” Adler told Speed City Broadcasting. “The Austin Public Health Authority is working with the modelers at the University of Texas and if that changes we’ll certainly know, but I know that the priority is to figure out how it is we run big events like this in a way that is safe.
“I think the Delta virus is going to be with us for a while. It’s not an option to close back up cities in the way they had closed in the past. Communities are going to have to learn how to deal with this kind of virus and deal with it in a safe way, because it’s something I think we’re going to have to sustain.
“There was just a concert event out at COTA here recently and some of these precautions and mitigation efforts were taken – I guess at the request of the artist out there – and we were real appreciative of that. I think that’s the kind of thing that we’re going to see more or more of.”
Pushed on when a final call on the race could come, Adler believes it will be in the coming days in order to allow as much certainty as possible for race-goers and associated businesses.
“I think it could be as early as this week,” he said. “It think it is probably likely we will hear from the Health Authority this week, if not certainly by next week. This is something that is being well thought-out as you might imagine, there are lots of people interested in this from lots of different kinds of perspectives. With the event coming up we recognize the need to be definitive and act with speed.
“That said, I can tell you where we are right now and where the rules are right now and what we are trying to solve for. So let’s wait, hopefully we’ll hear official word this week.”
And while a second race at COTA is looking less likely due to F1’s need to replace the Japanese Grand Prix with an event on the same date to negate travel restrictions back to the UK from Turkey – the race before the Japan slot – Adler would still like to see it happen.
“To me, I was one of the early season ticket holders here so it’s certainly something that as personal interest it’s a great thing for our city,” he said. “So if the Health Authority comes back and says that this is consistent with what we’re doing to keep our community safe, I think it would be great to be able to see that.
“I saw what happened with Singapore and Australia kind of bookending our event here, and I’ve heard that’s a possibility and it would be an exciting prospect.”