Circuit of the Americas boss Bobby Epstein says Logan Sargeant’s FP1 run for Williams at the United States Grand Prix is “pretty fantastic” but believes an American race-winner is needed to take Formula 1 to the next level in the States.
Sargeant will make his FP1 debut for Williams in Austin later this year after having impressed so far in his rookie Formula 2 season, where he sits third in the championship. Having that storyline as part of the build-up to the USGP is a welcome development for Epstein, but he says the recent growth that the sport has already experienced in the States means that just having drivers participating won’t move the needle significantly.
“It’s pretty fantastic, but it will be better when he’s participating on Sunday,” Epstein told RACER. “That’s absolutely a goal of mine to see. It’s nice to have a U.S. race team in Haas, but it pales into comparison to what could happen to have a U.S. driver who is winning.
“I do think Americans will show some pride in having an American driver in F1, but I think there will be a lot of support if we have a winning driver in F1. There is a difference.
“The real question is how exciting would it be to have a winning American driver? I think that’s a few years off, but certainly that would be a beautiful game-changer. That would be bigger than Netflix.”
Epstein says he follows young American drivers closely to see if the likes of Colton Herta could make the switch to F1 in future and start on the path to victories.
“Yeah you do (keep an eye on it),” he said. “That’s the short answer. We watch it, and you know that besides being a great driver they’re going to need a great car to be a champion.
“In Herta’s case, either you’ve got to hope McLaren’s going to be more competitive or you’ve got to hope they can get in a Ferrari or a Red Bull or a Mercedes right now, so you’ve also got to hope the power shuffles once in a while.”