29 May 2010
Teams excited by USGP
Team bosses have admitted that, while the return of the USGP is a good move for F1, too many races could see Fridays being dropped from the GP weekend.
Whilst the chance to give their sponsors a chance to promote themselves in America has excited the Formula One fraternity, team bosses are wary of the influx of new venues and have proposed cutting grand prix weekends to just two days in order to accommodate the anticipated expansion of the calendar.
The return of the USGP was confirmed earlier this week, with the surprise announcement that Texas state capital Austin had inked a ten-year deal to stage the race on an all-new, purpose-built circuit to be penned by Hermann Tilke. Although the decision to head south caught many - not least hopefuls in New York and Indianapolis - the reinstatement of what is seen as a key venue for F1 was welcomed by teams preparing for the Turkish GP in Istanbul.
"We are very, very excited about it," Williams' Adam Parr commented, "One of [our sponsors] is based in Texas, AT&T, and Thomson Reuters have a couple of thousands employees there, so it is great for our partners in particular. But, obviously, more generally, I think it is fantastic for the sport because not being in America is wrong for a global sport and I think it is brilliant all round. Well done, Bernie. Just when you think the old boy has given up the ghost he comes up with a fantastic deal."
Toro Rosso's Franz Tost also paid tribute to Ecclestone's efforts, as did representatives of manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes, which see the United States as a major market.
"For Red Bull, it is very important," Tost acknowledged, "It is a major market and we are looking forward. I have always said that, at least, we would need two grands prix in America, one on the west side and one on the east side. Now we have one and it is very, very important for us to go there."
" Hats off to Bernie," Mercedes' Ross Brawn added, "It is something we all want and need, and he has done a great job again in finding an American grand prix. It is very important commercially, but also important to continue to spread our fan base, as there are a lot of keen enthusiasts in America who have been deprived of a race for a little while. We always found a huge, very specialist, enthusiasm in America for F1 and we are delighted to be going back."
While the American return proved popular, however, suggestions that the F1 calendar would continue to expand beyond a likely 20 races have been greeted with some trepidation.
"There's an agreement with Bernie that the more races we do, the more money the teams get," Brawn commented, "We've got to make sure that the money we get is more than the money we spend, which is not easy with Bernie."
Parr revealed that expanding the schedule may actually help the teams - 'the costs of an F1 team are largely fixed and [while] I don't think drivers get more money per race, they generally complain about how little driving they do," he said, "If the races are in the right places at the right times on the right terms, then it should improve our income - but Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali admitted that going as far as 24 races would not be acceptable.
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