Austin chief urges F1 to capitalise on momentum of inaugural race
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, November 21st 2012, 13:53 GMT|
Austin circuit boss Bobby Epstein has urged Formula 1 not to let the impetus of a successful United States Grand Prix go to waste if it wants to make a breakthrough in America.
With the sport revelling after a sell-out crowd was treated to a thrilling race at the new Austin track, Epstein is convinced that next year's event can be even better if the sport makes an effort to build on what has been created.
In an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT, Epstein said: "How about we build on this momentum and not let it fall?
"There is a lot to learn from what went right. We have some ideas about how to make this work in the United States - where it has struggled in the past.
"And hopefully that starts with what happened here this weekend. Hopefully we can have some conversations and good dialogue about how it continues."
With a 120,000 strong crowd on race day, and more than 250,000 spectators over the weekend, Epstein has been given the firmest indication that there is a hunger for F1 in Austin.
And that is why he is already talking about increasing capacity at the venue for 2013 to make the event even bigger.
"The team bosses, team owners, Bernie and the fans - they said it was a success," he said.
"We learned a lot, so we can do a lot better next year. We can even make room to accommodate more people because after what they saw here we will have the confidence to do even better. It was a great day."
Epstein's belief that F1 needs to lift its game in the United States to capitalise on the event has been backed by team bosses, who think more needs to be done to promote the sport.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "The important thing is that in three to five years' time F1 is bigger.
"For the job they have done here [in Austin], we have to really repay that by working really hard to promote the sport in the States.
"We had 150,000 people here – and in five years' time we have to be bigger and we need a bigger television audience.
"We have to see if we can grow this sport in the States."
Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn echoed the comments that F1 and Austin chiefs now need to capitalise on what has happened rather than thinking it is job done.
"It is for the circuit here to continue with the promotion of the track and F1," she told AUTOSPORT.
"The fear we have that this would not be an exciting race turned out to be all wrong, so I think it laid a very good basis.
"But we have to continue with the marketing over here to keep interest and focus on F1 and we come back again and have a similar kind of success."
* Read why Formula 1 still has work to do in America here