F1 2018: Formula 1's American Ambitions
In September 2016, US media conglomerate Liberty Media became the new owners of Formula 1 and, in time, Bernie Ecclestone would depart from the business he had run for forty years.
Essentially, two Americans are now at the helm of Formula 1, the Vice Chairman of 21st Century Fox and Non-Executive Director of Sky PLC (global broadcasters of Formula 1), Chase Carey, along with the roadshow’s commercial boss, the former 'face' of ESPN, Sean Bratches.
So both are TV men and while they sound alike, the pair can be easily distinguished by their facial hair. While Bratches has upturned eyebrows, Chase sports his signature curly handlebar mustache, which was particularly popular among colonial military personnel of notable rank and order during World War I.
Since their arrival, it is hard to pinpoint any major changes or improvements this duo has implemented. Zip-wires have been mentioned plenty of times, even though I'm yet to see one firsthand. Further, I’m yet to be sold on the concept of how 'scaring out yourself by descending from a grandstand anywhere adds to the ‘F1 experience’. Less said the better, really!
I suppose we do now have the most irksome of all announcements at the ‘Circuit of Americas’ (a posh way of saying Austin Racetrack, Texas), namely “Drivers, start your engines”, which has been lifted rather shamelessly from that dreadful monstrosity they call Nascar.
The flyover by military aircraft and presence of naval, army and air force ‘heroes’ equipped with guns and firearms (unique amongst the 19 other Grand Prix in 2017) is a practice that has always been in place since the inaugural Texas GP in 2012. Ultimately, this race is truly seen as an opportunity to boast of military exceptionalism.
Clearly, Carey and Bratches are not ones to do things impulsively but the pair has recently announced one new innovation for Formula 1 fans, that being a proposed Miami Grand Prix.
Given their background and what everyone sees as an untapped marketplace, the desire to add a second American Formula 1 race to the calendar should come as no surprise. Unquestionably, given the proposed venue, this would be marketed as America’s Monaco.
The new arrival
A Miami Grand Prix would certainly help enhance the sport’s profile in North America just as the American Haas F1 team’s arrival did in 2016. Of course, as an American, you will have to ignore the fact that Haas is based in Oxfordshire, England, and runs an Italian Ferrari engine, before getting overly excited about the team which runs its car with an American flag stenciled on its side-pods.
But the piece de resistance would be a competitive American driver at the helm of a competitive F1 car. Scott Speed, who has spent the past five years racing Volkswagen Beetles, is the last driver to grace Formula 1 and he lost his Toro Rosso drive midway through the 2007 season.
As a betting man, I’d take some odds-on that another American will be driving an F1 car by the start of the 2020 season. And with Romain Grosjean destroying cars at an alarming rate (in practice and races), our new American friend might well be jumping into his Haas F1 seat.
19-year-old American Santino Ferrucci who is Haas’ development driver and is currently racing in Formula 2 (career record of 14 starts and a best finish of 22nd) has to be the most likely frontrunner.
He’s been racing cars even before he hit puberty, which means he comes from a wealthy background and, sadly, that has long been a sure-fire route into Formula 1.