Las Vegas Grand Prix: Otmar Szafnauer urges F1 to add fourth US race to calendar

Former Aston Martin and Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer feels F1 should consider hosting a fourth race in the USA to keep American interest in the sport alive and kicking.

Lando Norris landed his debut F1 race win in Miami last weekend, pipping Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to the top spot on the podium.

But the Dutchman has been otherwise dominant once again and looks well on course to cruise to yet another convincing defense of his world championship crown this season.

Last year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix had as many lows as it did highs – forcing Vegas business owners to launch a petition calling for November’s 2024 race planning to be halted.

But Szafnauer, whose profile has risen thanks to the success of Netflix’s behind-the-scenes F1 series Drive to Survive, feels the sport’s hierarchy should consider adding a fourth US race to the calendar, with Miami, Las Vegas and Austin currently on the race schedule.

He praised the impact of Drive to Survive in opening F1 to a new younger audience, and feels it’s vital to keep them engaged and interested.

Szafnauer said: “It is amazing what Netflix and the combination of three races in America has done over there.

“I have friends from Florida who are visiting and one of my friends’ friends said his daughter, who is 17, saw a picture of me recently and said, ‘wow, do you know him?’ And that is the Netflix effect. Without Netflix, she might not have known that Formula One existed.

“What we have to do is keep those fans interested. You don’t want to lose them, and if Max is winning all the time, will that happen?

“At the Canadian Grand Prix last year, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to all the team principals. The thing he said is you have to capitalize, and keep the fans and grow it, and he is right.

“But how do you keep them and grow it? Maybe a fourth race in America. Make it a destination race in New York or the West Coast and it will work. Miami is a destination race. Vegas is, and Austin is, too. Can there be four races in the States? I think so.”

Here are four American cities that could step into the limelight and aim to host their own exhilarating Formula 1 event in the coming years. 

New York City, New York 

New York City, with all its glitz and glamour, seems like the natural choice for a Formula 1 race. While the city has hosted Formula E races in the past, the prospect of Formula 1 tearing through its iconic streets would be a spectacle like no other.  

While speaking with Sky Sports, Formula 1 non-executive chairman Chase Casey revealed that Liberty Media was looking to bring F1 into New York City after ticking two main venues off their wish-list, which includes Miami and Las Vegas.  

“We said early on, Vegas, Miami and New York, they’re the next cities we should be in, and Vegas delivered,” he said. 

The biggest struggle with hosting a Grand Prix in New York is the location, given the hardships faced by residents during the construction of the Las Vegas GP pit building. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams allegedly offered Randalls and Wards Islands to the sport which are interconnected islands, predominantly made up of sports fields and parks. 

However, despite the striking skyline views, this location doesn’t fit the city-centre concept that F1 President Stefano Domenicali has in mind, which could be a setback for any race held in that location. 

Regardless, it’s clear that we could see 20 race cars zooming down Fifth Avenue some time in the future. 

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Indianapolis, Indiana 

Indianapolis is no stranger to motorsport glory, with the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway already hosting the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious races in the world. 

Sixteen years ago, Lewis Hamilton won the last Formula 1 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his second F1 win in what would become a record-breaking 103 victories. 

The city’s rich racing heritage and enthusiastic fanbase make it a prime candidate for expanding its motorsport offerings to include Formula 1.  

Although the other US GP hosts are more about the glamorous and thrilling lifestyle, a return to this iconic track could provide Formula 1 fans (especially newer fans) a sense of what the origins of motorsport feel like. 

Though it seems unlikely given what team bosses have said in the past about a race at IMS, a track with such a history and important place in the sport seems like a perfect full circle moment after the evolution of the series in the last 15 years. 

However, the argument could also be made that this track is best suited for the IndyCar series it has become so recognised for.  

Chicago, Illinois 

Part of the early silly season this month has been rumours of a fourth US-based race and right at the top of that list is Chicago, Illinois. 

The gossip began after Formula 1 filed trademark applications for “Grand Prix of Chicago” and similar names on January 19, according to U.S. patent and trademark office records. 

Talks have apparently been held between Formula 1 and the City of Chicago. Though the city currently has a three-year deal with NASCAR for downtown street races. 

Furthermore, it is important to note that the contract for the Circuit of the Americas in Austin expires at the end of the 2026 season, sparking speculation about whether Chicago could serve as a potential replacement venue. 

While the building of the track would be a hardship, the location of the track would mean four US races in almost every sector of the country, ranging from glamour to southern and traditional to metropolitan. 

It would be interesting to race in a city Formula 1 has never been to before as there have been more experimental tracks added to the calendar in recent years like Las Vegas, which signed a 10-year contract after the success of its first race.  

Additionally, Chicago’s dynamic urban landscape and passionate sports culture make it a compelling contender for a Formula 1 race. 

While the city has yet to host a major international motorsport event, its central location and robust infrastructure position it as a promising candidate for future expansion. 

Could we see this bold risk pay off? 

Nashville, Tennessee 

An unlikely and unrecognised option, Nashville offers a unique and beautiful backdrop for a potential future Grand Prix. 

The city’s rich musical heritage is highlighted by the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame and the recent success of motorsport events like the NASCAR Cup Series and the NTT IndyCar Series races in Nashville demonstrates the city’s capacity to host large-scale racing events and accommodate enthusiastic crowds. 

Considering the recently-opened Nashville Superspeedway and its prior hosting of Formula 1 team fan events like Red Bull, the city is well-equipped to handle the logistical demands of hosting a Formula 1 race. 

However, securing a Formula 1 race requires significant investment and collaboration between city officials, race organisers and stakeholders. 

Infrastructure upgrades, including track modifications and hospitality facilities, may be necessary to meet Formula 1’s stringent standards and ensure a successful event.

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Begas Vaby Writer
Begas Vaby Writer
As well as our senior writers on the editorial team, we have some junior writers who create content under the Begas Vaby profile. They are mainly into NFL and NBA.

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