Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes the United States market is big enough to host three Formula 1 races in the future.
Upon the recent release of the draft 2022 schedule, which expanded the calendar to a record 23 races, the series is set to make two trips to the U.S. next year with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on May 8 and — provisionally until a new agreement is reached — the US Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23.
Prior to the arrangement for a grand prix on the streets of South Florida, there was talk of an F1 race in Las Vegas, as well as a return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosted the USGP from 2000-07. For his part, Szafnauer believes there are a couple of factors in the momentum F1 has gained in the United States that have put the prospect of additional events into play.
“Well, I mean, I’ve been a fan since the early 1980s when I lived in Detroit,” Szafnauer said. “I know many others, maybe because we’re like-minded people, but there are lots of other Formula 1 fans in the States. But I think one: With having more races in the North America or the American time zone, as well as ‘Drive to Survive’ on Netflix being as popular as it was, I think that’s driven a much wider and more diverse audience than just motor racing fans. And I think our product is so entertaining and enticing, once you start getting a flavor for it and start understanding it, then I think the Formula 1 audience in the States can grow significantly.
“It’s been my experience that if a household watches Formula 1 and the dad likes it, let’s say, and then the children like it, then that just grows geometrically. Many of my friends who are now in their 50s started watching Formula 1 because their parents had back in the 1970s. So if we can get that momentum, I think the growth could happen very quickly. We’ve announced Miami now. So that’s another race in that time zone, another race in America. You never know if we’re going to add even more in the future.”
As far as the maximum number of races the United States market could host without risking over-saturation, Szafnauer weighed in.
“If I had to guess… say we have three of them there and they’re spaced correctly, I think the American market is big enough where if you only have three grands prix there, it’s not at its saturation point,” he said. “That’s just my opinion, knowing that NASCAR in the past have had, I don’t know, 42, 44 races (currently 36 points races -Ed.) there and everybody still enjoyed NASCAR and a lot of them were near each other. So I think with three races there, although we are truly a global sport and it is a true world championship, I think having three in a country like the U.S. is still very much viable and there will be demand.”