US GP: Teams say its too early to judge success of F1 in America
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, November 18th 2012, 13:54 GMT|
Formula 1 team bosses say the sport may have to wait years to judge whether the sport's return to the USA has been a success.
Sunday's United States Grand Prix will be played-out in front of a sell-out crowd at the new Austin venue on Sunday, with the city having given grand prix racing a warm welcome this week.
But Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes that a successful weekend is only the start of what needs to be a concerted year-on-year effort to lift F1's profile in the country.
"The first year you come to a race at a facility like this, it's great to see what fantastic support it's had. But it's about maintaining that support," he said when asked by AUTOSPORT about how to judge the event.
"That will be a measure of similar success of racing in America.
"There are things that we do during the season to monitor exposure and reaction, and we will be looking at all the factors that help us judge how much of an impression this race is making.
"I think it will take some time to build. It's not somewhere we can just walk into and expect an American audience to immediately switch on and understand everything.
"We want to spend time developing the audience. The fact that the race is a sell-out shows the core enthusiasm that there is in America for Formula 1 and we need to expand that enthusiasm.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner agrees that more work is needed beyond just the race weekend if F1 is to grow its fan base in the country.
"The American market is so vast and of course there is so much choice and variance of sport here," he said.
"I think historically Americans have perceived Formula 1 as a European sport.
"I think as Formula 1 has grown into the global sport that it is, the time is now right for it to really take on and win the appeal of the American fans."
Horner agrees with the view that Austin offers F1 an opportunity that was lacking in previous ventures to the country.
"The whole place has got a real vibe about it," he told AUTOSPORT. "It's a great city, it looks an exciting layout, just the run up to Turn 1 looks fantastic.
"I think it's got its best chance of really putting on a great show in the US. It's a different part of America to where we've been previously and I think in future years there'll be more than one race in the US.
"This is a crucial market to the teams, sponsors and corporate partners. It's certainly the biggest race in our short history we've had in terms of corporate entertainment at this event from all of our partners."
Horner does not believe that his team's predicted dominance of this weekend's Austin race will be a turn-off for fans expecting NASCAR levels of overtaking.
"People want to be entertained," he added. "When I watch NASCAR, it's only the last five minutes that are exciting because it's all about positioning for those last few laps.
"It's all about the experience. Seeing the spectacle of Formula 1 at this kind of circuit is going to be very special."