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Andretti calls for US GP return

ESPNF1 Staff
March 14, 2010 « Massa changes engine ahead of race | »
Mario Andretti was in the Bahrain paddock © Sutton Images

Former Formula One Champion Mario Andretti says it is essential for F1 to return to the United States, and believes that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway [IMS] is the ideal venue for the event.

Indianapolis hosted the US GP from 2000 through 2007, including the infamous 2005 event in which only six cars started. The race did not return in 2008 because Bernie Ecclestone and then IMS president Tony George could not agree on the sanctioning fee. It was later revealed that they were less than $10 million apart.

As no city or state government would pay for a F1 race in America, the event needs to be privately funded. Indianapolis has the only FIA-approved F1 track in the USA and would be able to host the event at very short notice.

"I personally think that, when you look at the dimension needed to host a F1 event, Indianapolis was perfect because in my opinion they are the ones that would have the ability to have a long-term commitment," he told ESPNF1. "When you have the free enterprise system at work, countries such as the US and many countries in Europe that don't give government help, it is too costly for them to have F1 there.

"So you have to have organisations such as Indianapolis, which is the mecca of motor racing in America, to host something like this. The U.S. has to have a grand prix. It is a travesty that it is not happening in the U.S., or for that matter France, the countries where the classic venues existed. I know that Indy was new venue for F1, but with modern times it was good. I thought it was great."

Ecclestone is still entertaining the possibility of a race in the US and said the addition of an Indian Grand Prix in 2011 doesn't necessarily mean the calendar is full.

When asked whether or not Indianapolis was the best place for a potential round stateside, Ecclestone said: "Yeah, it is. It's only the fact that it's all the wrong crowd and the wrong people. Nothing worked there really. We'd have to have a big change round. But we'd like to get back there."