The United States can sustain multiple Formula 1 races but the sport should be careful not to chase further additions too quickly, according to Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner.
Speaking at the start of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix weekend — a race that joins Austin’s Circuit of The Americas as the second American event on the F1 schedule, with Las Vegas to become the third next year — Steiner said he is confident that the expansion can be sustained given the size of the country. The Haas team principal believes criticism of three races in America comes largely from Europeans who don’t appreciate how far apart each venue is.
“I think here (in Miami), the whole city lifts it,” Steiner said. “In Austin a lot of people come as well, but what I see, you never have to forget how big the United States are. I lived here a long time, so I see the difference. It’s like having a grand prix in England or in Spain — you can have success in both places. It’s the same here.
“We’re on the East Coast here and (COTA is) in Texas. Texas itself is a huge state, so I don’t think they are eating into each other because it’s such a big country which can actually have this amount of grands prix because the population is over 300 million. It’s like Europe, and in Europe we don’t say, ‘Ah, because we have a grand prix in the UK we shouldn’t have one in Portugal,’ for example. No, it’s so far away. This is what we have to get used to as Europeans — if I talk as a European — that this is such a big country it can take this amount of races without a problem.”
When the idea of a return to Indianapolis was put to Steiner, however, he warned that F1 should not try and grow too quickly, and instead make sure the new events are all successful.
“I have difficulty seeing (Indy),” he said. “I think there’s easier things — like this one here, you’ve got a city which wants Formula 1. Austin, now it is used to Formula 1. When it started, Bobby Epstein did a fantastic job starting from nowhere to create this out of nothing to start the interest in F1. Now going to Vegas, a completely different city again.
“Indianapolis, the size of the city… it’s a lot smaller than all these venues we are doing now. Yeah, there is a space for it, but I don’t know also commercially how interesting it is to do it there, I don’t have this data.
“I think if we do Vegas next year, three at the moment, as big a country as the U.S. is, you have to solidify what we have got. Not just try to do more, to do more. We need to get it better and better as well.”
Steiner said he would prefer to see F1’s next race be added in a continent that doesn’t currently host a grand prix.
“I think it would be nice if we go back to Africa,” he said. “In general Africa is a continent which has got a big population, and us going there would be a nice gesture, I think.”