F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has brushed off any idea that having three races in the United States means they would ‘cannibalise’ each other due to being in the same country.
Austin and Miami will be joined by a third race Stateside in Las Vegas later in the season, with F1 bosses looking to make the most of the sport’s newfound popularity in one of its biggest markets by expanding the calendar there.
But rather than having more races that would eat into the popularity of each other, the sheer size of America as a nation and differences in the places the sport will visit this year will play a part in making each race unique, according to the F1 chief executive.
“It is pretty clear that every race, not only in America, has a different personality, a different cultural approach, a different quality, a different segmentation of fans,” Domenicali said on a recent media call which included PlanetF1.com.
“And by the way, sometimes we forget that just couple of years ago, we were thinking: ‘Do we really need to stay in the US? Is it really the market we should be in?’
“And thanks to the stubbornness, we are here. We had two races last year, and this year, we are adding another one. So in the blink of an eye, we are getting there.
“I don’t see any kind of cannibalisation, everyone is different, everything is different. I don’t see any problem there.”
F1 is right to make use of American market, and Vegas will bring something different
Capitalising upon the success of the new wave of F1 fans has been key to the growth of the sport in America, and the arrival of Miami and Las Vegas to the calendar signals how open the States have been to finally accepting the sport into its national circle after decades of being sidelined by the popularity of IndyCar and NASCAR in particular.
And Domenicali is correct to point to each race having its own ‘personality’ in its own right, with Austin’s decade-long presence on the calendar having been joined by the beachside element of Miami – even if the boats parked at Hard Rock Stadium last year were not surrounded by real water.
The spectacle of Las Vegas is what F1 and Liberty are pinning their hopes on this year however, not just in terms of what it can add to the calendar, but effectively shutting the roads of Sin City down over Thanksgiving weekend and giving it a primetime TV slot for a Saturday night race under floodlights is inviting the attention of the entire country – and they will hope for the best race possible to kick off the sport’s return to Nevada.
Not just for how much paying customers will be paying to be there, with ticket prices among the highest of the whole season, but for how much the sport has invested into being there too. It’s perhaps apt, then, that F1 is taking such a gamble in the casino capital of the world this year.