Christian Horner has said that, while it was regrettable that F1's return to the USA coincides with the final round of NASCAR's Sprint Cup competition, it was always going to be difficult to avoid a clash with America's biggest series.
Speaking during Friday's FIA
press conference, where it was pointed out that the two series' respective 2013 calendars also scheduled the same clash, Horner pointed out that, given the length of NASCAR's calendar, it would be difficult to avoid pitting the USGP against a Sprint Cup event. The 2012 campaign takes the phenomenally popular stock car series through 36 rounds, nearly twice as many as included on the F1 schedule, culminating at Homestead in Florida this weekend.
"I think the major problem is that, whatever weekend you stick an F1 race on, there's going to be a NASCAR
race," Horner confirmed, "Looking at their calendar, they seem to race every single weekend - some of us think that 20 races is a lot, [but] I think that those guys are doing a fair bit more."
McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh agreed that it was unfortunate that the two calendars clashed, and would do so again, but stressed that the teams - who were most in need of attention from the US media in order to satisfy their sponsors - had no say in how the schedule shaped up.
"We're not involved in setting the calendar, and I think it appears to be a bit unfortunate," he commented, admitting that he wasn't aware of the same clash in 2013, "We're probably [involved in] a different market [to NASCAR] and I guess it's difficult when you're arranging calendars to always get them [to avoid clashes]. There's always another sporting event in most nations that you try to dodge around, so I don't know how significant it is. As I say, this is a new market for us. NASCAR
draws a huge huge audience, both in attendance and in television, so we've given ourselves a bit of a challenge there, I think."
Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali also conceded that he had not been aware of a repeat conflict in 2013, but insisted that it was up to F1 to create a niche for itself in the USA in order to compete with NASCAR's popularity.
"We need to take this momentum to speak about F1 because I don't think it's only a matter of having, on one hand, the main final and, on the other hand, one race in America," he explained, "It's also a matter of growing the attention of F1 and then, maybe in the future, the hope is that, if you have on the same day the two different events, we have it the other way around, meaning that we have done a great job in terms of promotion. That should really be our target at the moment."
The USA is, of course, an important market for the majority of companies involved in F1 and, after a five-year hiatus following the collapse of the sport's deal with Indianapolis, the team bosses were clearly happy to be back.
"It's crucial for F1," Horner insisted, "To be a true 'world' championship, you've got to have a race in America. And, for the first time ever, we've got a circuit that's specifically made to bring out the best and showcase F1 cars. I think the circuit that's been built here will do exactly that. Hopefully, we can put a great show on for the fans.