News that the United States Grand Prix is to return to the F1 schedule from 2012 has been given the thumbs up by F1's drivers.
Confirmation that F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone had agreed a ten-year deal with officials from both Texas and the capital of Austin came earlier this week [see separate story – click here
], and the announcement has been welcomed by Red Bull's Mark Webber and record-breaking multiple F1 world champion, Michael Schumacher.
"It's a huge market, we know that. A lot of people live in North America and they're very passionate about their sport," Webber said ahead of this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park, the latest round on the F1 2010 schedule. "There's naturally a lot of people involved in F1 that do business in North America. If it's of benefit for all of us to go there and hold a Grand Prix under their noses and for them to embrace F1 racing as best they can – because obviously it's a different kind of sport for them – that can only be a good thing.
"We've seen in the past that it has worked okay at Indy, and it can be exciting in Texas, so let's see how it goes. For Red Bull, we sell a lot of cans over there and it will be good if we can sell some more."
Schumacher added: "Certainly, it's one of the beautiful places around the world to go to and there are lots of great opportunities. For me, naturally, I love to go and race there as it allows me to spend some days before the race to hang out there and enjoy it.
"But more important for most of the manufacturers that are involved in F1, America is a very important market. If you think of how many countries like Brazil, Argentina, all those countries in South America, how many we had of those guys at Indy, then we should have even more, because logistically it's easier to go to Texas than all the way up to Indy. Hopefully, that's the case because one of the points that we have been missing is the sort of excitement that F1 can create and can give to the fans that are in America.
"Yeah, it has not fully arrived, but quite honestly you cannot expect those things to happen overnight. You have to give it continuation, and this continuation hasn't happened for a long enough time, plus maybe we haven't yet got a known or successful American driver in our group that would be quite helpful for this. But certainly from our point of view we are very happy to go there."
Williams man Rubens Barrichello and Lotus' Jarno Trulli meanwhile echoed those sentiments, with the former pointing out that F1 should never have left.
"On a personal side I love America as a whole. I've also spent a lot of time there with the family, so it's really good to be going to that side," Barrichello continued. "From the manufacturers' point of view, it's just a great opportunity that's back again and we should never have stopped racing there.
"Even though the fans don't know F1, they are aware and they obviously know more of NASCAR and Indycar, but it's a great opportunity for us to show our show and get together."
"I like going to the US, I think it's a good market and I also think that the F1 circus is a worldwide business, so why not? We would be more than welcome to go there," Trulli summed-up.