Could there be two US Grands Prix this year?

Formula 1 is struggling with its calendars because of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in multiple countries. It is far more difficult this year than last because of the constantly-shifting rules and the paperwork involved in moving the F1 circus from country to country.

“We thought that this year would be tough at the start of the season and then get easier as the situation improved,” said F1’s sporting director Steve Nielsen, “but the reality is that it is getting more and more difficult.”

This is because of the different variants that mean that countries are protecting their borders from foreign visitors. Most of the races now and being run only thanks to government exemptions.

The one place where restrictions are more limited is the United States, where things are returning to normal more rapidly than elsewhere, even if deaths are still running at more than 500 a day. In Australia, for example, the whole state of Victoria (where Melbourne is located) was locked down last week because of 60 cases. You can all it over-reaction if you like but Australia’s death total in the last 15 months has been only 910 people.

However it means that the rescheduled Australian Grand Prix and several other races probably won’t happen. Singapore has just cancelled and F1 is worried about Brazil and Japan. And there are also question about Mexico. There are races in China and Turkey waiting in the wings to step in if gaps appear, but that still will not get the sport to 23 races.

In Baku there were rumours that we might see two races this year in the United States, as a result of the ongoing problems. One suggestion is that F1 could go to Indianapolis and use the road course, while another idea is to have two races back-to-back in Austin.

Stefano Domenicali would not confirm nor deny the stories.

“We’ll see what happens,” he says. “Things are changing all the time.”

The appetite to go to Indy is not great in F1 circles. It is not a destination city in the same way as Miami or Las Vegas, but if there is the possibility to have a race and there is money to pay for it – there are no free races this year – then F1 will certainly look at it.

The sport is keen to embrace those who have had their interest in F1 sparked by the Netflix Series “F1 Drive to Survive” and want to know more about F1. This new interest is being seen in F1 viewing figures in the US, which are on the rise.

It could that the best answer is back-to-back races in Austin…

37 thoughts on “Could there be two US Grands Prix this year?

  1. I’m sorry, if there are to be “no free races this year” as you suppose, then Austin running two GPs (back-2-back or otherwise) is plainly and simply not in the cards.

    Not sure about the chances of convincing Roger Penske to send a nominal cheque to run a race on Oct 17th, especially given the likely weather and an NFL game in town.

  2. I really can’t see China getting repreived given it’s imposed restrictions on most of Europe.

  3. Joe,
    Back to back races in Austin? Keep us informed, we will need to extend our hotel reservations and buy additional tickets! Last Austin race I attended with our daughter, this year I’ve got my wife going now along with our daughter, might have to add our two grandsons (3 and 4 year olds), talk about new fans for formula one.

  4. Of all the deaths due to Covid in Australia there were 844 in Aged Care Facilities & this figure was high because of the failure of our Federal Government not taking their responsibility for Aged Care by letting private operators run everything on a Profit before People manner. Our Government wanted to save the economy not the people. It was the States that put people first & kept the death toll much lower.

      1. Even if it was, we on the red list and the pandemic is no longer being taken seriously to get us to amber.

          1. F1 has a real opportunity at its hands here: racing in all areas of origin for the 5 main variants of COVID-19 (so far) in a season:

            China – GB – SA – Brazil – India.

          2. I had on very good authority that pre-Covid a race deal was close. There was a name involved on the 🇿🇦 team that many would recognise the surname.

  5. “The appetite to go to Indy is not great in F1 circles. It is not a destination city” I see living in France hasn’t diminished your fabled British mastery of understatement.

  6. Texas is maybe more likely. The Governor wants more business rather than vaccinations so the rules are easier. The problem is that Texas gets a tax break to make the numbers work which may not be available for two races.

  7. What about a race in Kyalami, South Africa. The Covid situation is not so bad. Numbers are staying low. There is a lockdown but quite relaxed restrictions. F1 would remain out of harms way if they remain in that bubble.

    The financial situation will be an issue it seems.

    1. South Africa are on the 🇬🇧 Red List, 14 days quarantine in a government approved hotel at your own cost. That is why we not even being mentioned. With President Ramaphosa changing from Lockdown Level Pacman to level Donkey Kong from midnight as the 3rd wave starts it’s march to its peak and absolutely no enforcement of any of the preventative rules by the useless SAPS in the areas of high infection make any visitor a higher risk. I was in a township drinking after the 2nd peak and was told to stay here till 4 as the lockdown is only in old white areas.

      Formula 1 should again focus on getting enough races done to ensure they fulfill their obligations under various contracts and agreements.

  8. While it probably does not have the infrastructure for Formula 1, there are 4 great circuits I’d love to see Formula 1 race in 🇺🇲

    Road America
    Barber Motorsport Park
    Watkins Glen
    Laguna Seca

  9. Two races in the US absolutely makes sense Joe, and how about three, if Japan, Mexico and/or Brazil are cancelled? Both of logistical and marketing reasons. I’m sure Roger Penske would be happy to accomondate a race at Indy.

  10. Thanks Joe, interesting news and made me wonder about a 2nd layout in Austin and a quick google search has found there is a shorter national circuit. It looks similar to the Bahrain layout used last year so that would be a nice addition to the calendar.

  11. Best answer is Indy 1st followed by Austin. Going to Indy will provide access to additional fans. Plus they should allow the top 4 teams to run additional cars for Americans.

  12. I’ve never understood the reluctance to return to Indianapolis. Not a destination city? Baku and entirely of Azerbaijan do not rank rank high as vacation spots. Same for Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi. It’s the money, of course. (Certainly nothing to do with even minimal respect for fundamental rights. )

    1. Not just the money. Indy just isn’t where Liberty want to be. If Roger pays north of $40 million then yes, but he’s smarter than that!

      1. You have summed it up, where Liberty want to be.

        Granted they more interested in the sport than the previous parasites, but Indy has more Motorsport heritage than China, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain put together.

        As a fan of Motorsport, I’d like to see Formula 1 perform where they is a sell out crowd of locals. Sadly those days are over.

        1. There is an interesting motor racing museum at Indy and if has more than just indy cars. I was there in 2004 but not for a race sadly. The town seemed to be starting a regeneration process but it seemed pretty run down industrial at the time.

  13. 2 US races would help Liberty with their marketing push over there as they look towards next year and beyond.
    Austin is a good circuit so back to backs wouldn’t be bad at all.
    I’d like Indy to come back but only with a longer layout. The 2.5 mile existing road course with the massive front straight is too short a lap. There must be an option to utilise some of the back straight and link it into the existing course?
    Failing that could F1 go to VIR, Barber or even Elkhart Lake??

  14. Personally, I would love to see an Indy F1 race considering how things ended. But the Colts have a home game that weekend, which will really complicate manners for October 17th with lodging and traffic. What about Laguna Seca, Road America, or Watkins Glen as possible options for a second F1 race?

  15. It’s reaching the stage where any circuit that can do a double-header really needs to. Austin, yes, but there’s a big gap after Silverstone too.

    After the success of the Bahrain outer loop, I’d love to see F1 cars do the Silverstone national circuit. Can but dream…

    1. Obviously would never happen, but I would be intrigued to see how quickly modern F1 cars could lap Silverstone’s National Circuit. The current lap record was set in a EuroBOSS race by Scott Mansell in a Benetton B197 with a time of 47.404.

  16. When I first heard about this the other day, I texted my friend, “Want to spend a week in Texas?” He responded, “YEAH”

    Though, I wouldn’t mind one race at Indy. We can drive to that one.

  17. It’s not like Austin is a destination city, or a place Formula 1 wants to be, either. Stick to Europe again this year, lots of great options.

  18. I’ll be impressed when Liberty and ESPN advertise/ promote the one race they have! THEN go out and add new venues and dates.

    I fear popularity wise the U.S. will always favor circle track racing over road style events.

  19. I suspect that something a bit dodgy is going on because tickets to the Austin race sold out almost instantly. Looks like they opened one new grandstand in turn 2 and those seats are almost gone. I went to the first 5 races there and was planning on going again this year. If they do hold a second race then the ticket demand should be there.

  20. Can’t wait for the green note book to find out what you made of Baku Joe.
    What did you make of Mazepin move on Mick Schumacher.
    I appreciate everyone is heightened to everything Nikita does now probably unfairly IMO as if you listen to him he’s clearly an intelligent young man and certainly comes across as very respectful.
    He did seem to have a little move towards Mick.

  21. Not sure a second race can work. The week before Austin, University of Texas is playing Oklahoma State at home. There will be more billionaires at that game than a F1 race. Not sure you would have hotel rooms on Friday and Saturday night. The week after is Mexico City. Would second Austin race replace Mexico?

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