Ferrari wants three races in United States
Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci says Formula One should pursue staging three races a season in the United States to increase the revenues available to all its teams.
F1 in the United States
- F1 has repeatedly tried to crack the American market with limited success, returning in 2012 to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. It previously held a United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Speedway between 2000 and 2007, but this race was tainted by the infamous 2005 edition where only six cars competed when entrants on Michelin tyres pulled out due to safety concerns.
- A Grand Prix of America around a temporary street circuit in New Jersey was scheduled to join the calendar in 2013. However, that race has failed to materialise due to contractual disputes between organisers and Bernie Ecclestone and looks unlikely to ever happen.
The cost of F1 became a moot point at the United States Grand Prix last weekend with Force India, Lotus and Sauber threatening to strike in protest at the way the sport's revenues are unequally shared between the biggest and smallest teams. Those threats were followed Caterham and Marussia going into administration within the space of five days last month, leading to their withdrawal from the Austin race and the sport's smallest grid since 2005.
Mattiacci - who has already said Ferrari is unwilling to give up its current share of revenues - thinks a solution could be having more races in the US, a market F1 has failed to seriously break in recent years despite numerous attempts to do so.
"I want an extra race in the United States," Mattiacci said. "I want three races in the United States. That's my proposal, because the American market is fundamental to generate revenues, to attract sponsors, so that's my proposal. When you have more revenues definitely you can talk about having more teams on board. Again I don't know what is the critical mass for those teams that are struggling, what is the amount of money they need in order to be successful or to be consistently in F1. Fifty million, one hundred million? I don't know. Depends on the business model they want to establish.
"We need competitive teams. I'm not here to say small, middle; we need competitive teams with a solid business background, a solid financial background. At the same time as a strong believer of Formula One I think the focus is how to increase revenues, how to make the cake bigger. We are here in the United States where we see that Formula One is getting traction. My focus as a company where 30% of the sales are United States I want to make sure we get more and more successful in the United States."
In 1982, the US became the first country to host three world championship grands prix in one season with races in Long Beach, Las Vegas and Detroit. No country on the current calendar does so but Vijay Mallya, owner and team principal of Force India, one of the teams unhappy with the way F1's revenues are split, thinks Mattiacci's proposal makes sense.
"Well, you know the United States is a large continent and could have more than one Formula One race," he said. "The motor racing culture and passion exists in this country, in terms of NASCAR, in terms of Daytona, in terms of the Indy 500, I mean motor sport is basically a very, very popular sport here in the United States and there is no reason why Formula One should not be equally entertaining and gather a lot of fans in this continent.
"I mean, if we can have as many races [as we do] in the geographical region of Europe then one or maybe even two races in the United States would hardly be enough. But more significantly given the overall financial situation of Formula One, I mean a market as huge as the United States can help revenues on one side and help those teams that need more and more sponsorships on the other hand."