What the papers say

If Formula 1 is to capture the hearts of the US public this weekend at Indianapolis, judging by the newspapers Americans read, the world's most popular form of motorsport is up against some stiff opposition

What the papers say

Of all the sports battling for a reader's attention in the USA's online newspapers, the Olympics - and America's medal tally - takes top billing. You then have to trawl through US football, basketball, baseball, college football, college soccer and high school football to get to 'auto racing'. Even then your search is not over, as NASCAR and CART news still takes precedence over F1.

But although you would have been hard-pushed to find any F1 news at the start of this week, American newspapers are now building up their US Grand Prix coverage.

As you would expect, Indianapolis newspapers have more F1 news than most, but with an obvious American spin to grab their readers' attention. 'Villeneuve back as underdog' says the Indianapolis Star's headline. "Indy 500 champion returns to the Speedway, but his Formula One equipment leaves him as an also-ran," it goes on to explain.

The Star also runs a story written by journalist Robin Millar - 'CART, F-1 moves probably more positive than negative' - in which he predicts that Champ Car team boss Barry Green will move to BAR in October.

Millar, wondering how Bobby Rahal, Green and Juan Pablo Montoya's departure will affect CART, says: "Losing Montoya and Mercedes hurts [CART]... But the big winner appears to be F1 czar [Bernie] Ecclestone. He's snatched up two of CART's most influential owners and their fastest driver... But two of his top-funded teams [Jaguar and BAR] are so lost they came to CART for direction. That makes it a wash."

USA Today attempts to reassure its readers that although Montoya, Rahal and Green will turn their attentions to F1 in 2001, they have nothing to fear: F1 is not robbing the US of its talent.

"When [Barry] Green speaks, he still refers to CART as 'us' and 'our series'. Neither Green nor Rahal is expected to sell his CART team, even if both go to F1," it states. In the case of Rahal, that's now fact.

And in another story - 'F1 wants America's attention' - the paper reports a local radio DJ in Indianapolis wondering how Indy caterers "will come up with the unusual food for these Europeans".

The story focuses on how F1 must convince the American public that Grand Prix racing is something to get excited about, and Eddie Jordan concurs. "It's up to us to help you to understand it, to get it more exciting, to show the technology of it, to make sure drivers become household names," the Irishman tells USA Today.

Elsewhere, F1 has yet to really penetrate. In Motor City itself, home of Jaguar's owners Ford, The Detroit Star has Rahal's move to Jaguar and a rather pessimistic story doing the rounds in most of the American papers, 'Can Formula One succeed in America?' The opinion seems to be this is F1's last chance to win over Americans.

And New York's newspapers, despite having Eddie Irvine's R1 paraded around Times Square, have yet to get excited about the US Grand Prix - the New York Post and the New York Daily News both managed to remain F1-free zones.

But does this leave Americans nonplussed about the race at Indianapolis this weekend? Not at all. The event is expecting a crowd of around 250,000 and hotel rooms within a hundred-mile radius of Indianapolis are virtually impossible to come by. The US Grand Prix has already captured the imagination of many Americans - hopefully the newspapers and the rest of the country will not be too far behind.

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