COTA might not be the only F1 game in U.S. come 2019

May 02, 2018
Formula One’s race on the streets of Monte Carlo is one of the sport’s iconic events. However, Circuit of the Americas officials haven’t been big on the idea of a street race in the United States. CREDIT: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Austin, meet Miami.

If Formula One has its way, the two cities will be linked, each having a Grand Prix as early as next year in the world’s most glamorous motorsports series.

Circuit of the Americas has been the exclusive U.S. home for F1 since 2012. Mexico City and Montreal also have races. Formula One announced Wednesday it is pushing for a street race in Miami.

“Miami’s status as one of the world’s most iconic and glamorous cities, combined with its robust tourism infrastructure, makes Miami the perfect destination for Formula One and its fans,” said Sean Bratches, F1’s managing director for commercial operations.

The Miami city council will vote next week on a proposal to formalize plans to pursue a deal, which Mayor Francis Suarez called “the first step,” with a final vote likely over the summer.

COTA management has known for years that a second U.S. race was coming. Chairman Bobby Epstein told the American-Statesman on multiple occasions that while his track might take a short-term hit in attendance, the long-term outlook would be positive with two annual F1 events raising the sport’s profile in the States.

Neither Epstein nor COO Katja Heim could be reached for comment Wednesday, but neither is a fan of trying to start a new street race.

“If you’re looking over your hotel balcony in Monte Carlo, Baku or Singapore, it’s pretty cool,” Heim told the Statesman over the winter. “In a new city without that kind of setup? The racing is totally boring.

“It’s also extremely expensive. To have a downtown F1 race, the initial cost is around $200 million. Then each year another $60 million. And the regulatory part of it is nearly impossible.”

Suarez told the Associated Press he expects “99 percent” of financing to come from private sources with any city funds coming it at $500,000 or less.

Epstein told the Statesman last fall that street races are difficult in person.

“There are very few opportunities to overtake,” he said. “You can’t see hardly any of the course, as well. From COTA, you get to see as many as 10 turns. On a street course, the car goes by and then it’s out of sight.

“But in the long run a second U.S. race will help us. It keeps the sport in front of people and will build more fans.”

Early indications are that the Miami race will be run in close proximity to the U.S. and Mexican Grand Prixs.

“If you put the events together, it can kind of mitigate travel expenses,” Bratches told the Statesman last October. “Doing a second race on the East Coast, in Miami or New York, rather than out West makes more sense to me because they come into Europe at a more favorable hour. Europe is our biggest market.”