Formula One returns the US!

In 2012, in Austin of all places!

A new purpose-built track and a long contract (through 2021).

Great news overall, and I’m excited about Austin as a location. The new track should alleviate most of the problems that have plagued F1 in the US for years - street tracks or the mess that was Indy.

Of course living a few hours north of the proposed new race has me excited, but what do other Dopers think?

Very cool. I would enjoy seeing a race live, for certain. I suppose I have another reason to go to Austin now.

Wow, that’s amazing! I would have never guessed Austin. This is so cool.

I try to take one vacation per year. 2009 was Europe (2010 was recovery). 2011 will be Washington DC, and I think I just found 2012.

Interesting. A lot will depend on the design of the track. I find a lot of the recent ones to be pretty soulless. I wonder if they’ve learned anything about circuit layout to make the races more exciting.

I kinda liked having it at Indy. Using a long section of the oval was supposed to put some emphasis on top-end speed which doesn’t really come into play at any of the other tracks. It didn’t seem to work out that way, though. Then the tire debacle was the nail in the coffin, but certainly not the fault of anyone at the speedway.

I agree that track design will be key, and I’m also hoping that they learned something from the last few designs.

My ideal track would use the Texas Hill Country to advantage and include a lot of elevation changes - I’m thinking Spa. With some long straightaways or even long sweeping turns you could still emphasize top speed, but make some interesting corners. I like having the teams make the trade off between top speed and cornering ability.

The other question is when they will hold the race. Season opener in spring, or later in the season after they do the European section? I can see the race either being the first race of the season or the last, but not anywhere in the middle.

F1 would be well-suited to remember their awful experience in Dallas and try not to have it in the middle of the summer. Then again, this is Bernie Ecclestone we’re talking about. If anybody can find a way to screw it up, it’s him.

Well, I’m assuming that they’ve learned their lessons from the US (not only Dallas, but Phoenix, Vegas, Detroit and every other place they tried to do the street tracks).

Austin in the summer would be stupid - as would Dubai. That’s why they do Europe in the summer now.

I’m just wondering if the US will get the opening Grand Prix - which lately has been handed to one of the “Sand Prix” nations for what I’m sure are huge amounts of money, or will be relegated to later in the season. I submit that later in the season is GOOD, because it means that championships are on the line.

I’m stunned. Just absolutely flabbergasted that such a project will be coming to a place as anti-development as Austin. The main article in the Austin American-Statesman states that the track isn’t built and is unclear whether a site has even been finalized. They claim it’ll be privately financed, and then next mention a Texas state events fund they want to tap to defray some of the costs. When you go to, the fairly uninformative site refers you to an e-mail address for more information.

I’m not a big or knowledgeable F1 fan, but I do know that Grand Prix and the facilities to host them are hideously expensive and complicated projects. How can you have a race in 2012 when track construction hasn’t even started yet? Haven’t been to Austin in awhile, but if I had to put a track together rapidly, I’d see if I could use as much of the former Mueller Airport as I could and build out around that. Heck, does Austin even have hotel space for the crowds an F1 race would bring?

I’d be happy to be proved wrong—a Texas F1 GP would be fantastic—but this really smells like vaporware to me.

I have the same fears Gray Ghost…they have better have land bought and permits filed because there is little chance of this being ready by 2012 if they are starting from 0. At least this has the backing of the governor and the mayor of Austin (though I imagine the track will be outside city limits), which is a more than the New Jersey Grand Prix folks had.

The organizer said in the Austin paper that the track would be within 10 miles of the airport…which means it won’t be in the “Hill Country” per se. Looking at Google Maps, there is a lot of land to the east and south of the airport which is relatively undeveloped, very little space north and west to put in a “purpose-built facility”. Mostly farm/ranch/scattered country subdivisions. And mostly flat. But hopefully they can build in some meaningful elevation changes…

As a resident of San Antonio and F1 fan (who never went to the USGP at Indy on principle of not giving Tony George one dime of my money) I was shocked, excited, and skeptical of this announcement all at once. :slight_smile:

I’m really excited by this news, too, as it would be reasonably practical for us to attend - I hope it comes off.

However, until something more concrete than pronouncements from Bernie, promises of “finding a site real soon now,” and real evidence of financing come along I won’t be holding my breath. They sounded real confident when the Donington Park deal was signed for the British GP, too.

I’m more than a bit skeptical, too. The organizers in Austin have said the track will cost $200 million to build, and it’s been reported that Bernie Eccelstone wants about $20 million per race. That’s a “fur piece” of investment and fees to recoup, and doesn’t even include operating costs.

Indianapolis concluded they couldn’t make it work after 2008, even after they’d already built and operated the circuit for 8 years.

As for the speculation about a date, It will almost certainly be either June, in conjunction with the Canadian Grand Prix to save transport costs, or August, as in Indianapolis.

BTW, many think that Eccelstone (who owns Grand Prix marketing) was using Donington Park as a stalking horse to force Silverstone’s movement on a few issues. He never really figured to go there in the first place.

Don’t book your tickets yet.

Regarding timing - if they make it before the Canadian GP, such as in late May, it would make sense. August in Austin? Ugh - might as well do it in Bahrain in the summer. May would bring the chance of Texas spring storms moving through, which always adds drama.

They could also put it next to the Brazilian GP so the teams are already on the same side of the world. That would mean (matching this year’s schedule) late October or early November. That would be a little dicey, as even Austin gets some decent cold fronts moving through by then.

So many things in F1 are mere speculation (remember the USF1 team?) that I have to remain cautious, but I am still optimistic and VERY excited that a GP could be coming to Texas!

There should be at least the possibility of rain. :slight_smile:

I agree with matching it with Brazil or Canada.

Is there a reason that F1 doesn’t use some of the tracks that already exist? Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio are both fantastic, long tracks, with hairpin turns, long straights, and elevation changes - wouldn’t these be ideal for an F1 track? I realize that the answer’s probably the markets involved (not enough $$$$), but I like to think that someone cares about the actual racing.

Sigh. I already know that I’m wrong. But still - fantastic tracks already exist! Use those!

Land for the track has been secured and water/waste permits all set to go according to this but they’re still mum on where exactly it is. No surprise that Herman Tilke will be the designer. Apparently it has hills! Hope we get a Turkey and not a new Hockenheim.

Formula One has pretty strict standards for a track to host an event; things like track width, the amount of runoff room around the corners, etc. Also, F1 cars fuel on the right hand side, which means that side has to face the pit wall and the fueling rig. To run at Elkhart Lake or Mid-Ohio, they might have to do it in reverse. The owners of those tracks probably figure the remodelling costs wouldn’t be worth it.

Does Herman Tilke have to design everything these days? Not that his tracks are bad, but they all have the same personality - I would like to see more variety.

Yeah, something with a sweeping curve after the main straight would be nice, ala Philip Island and Le Mans. It would also be nice to have something that feels like it was designed free-hand instead of with a ruler, compass, and protractor.

That would certainly look more interesting, but I’m not sure it would make the racing any better. There’s only one fastest line around the course. Hard, straight-line braking seems like the only chance to do any passing with the current cars. On a long straightaway you’ve got a chance to get alongside someone. For a fast, sweeping corner, there’s no braking zone, and a trailing car has to either fall in single-file, or take a slower line through the turn.