Green Notebook from Crush, Texas

In Austin they have a slogan that exhorts people to “Keep Austin Weird”. You can buy mugs, teeshirts, bumper stickers and bags that carry the logo but when you get to know the town a little it really doesn’t seem that strange a place. In fact, I’ve heard it said that it is a pretty normal place, surrounded by a very weird state. Austin only seems weird because it is different from the rest of Texas. As I was belting down I-35, the Purple Heart Trail, from Dallas to Austin at a strange hour of the morning, I was pondering this concept. The countryside is flat and not very interesting but I-35 leads you towards the city of Waco (pronounced way-ko), although I always imagined that it must be called Wacko because of some of the strange things that have taken place in the area, not least the bizarre siege in 1993 when followers of a religious sect called the Branch Davidians got into a gunfight with agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which resulted in 10 deaths and led to the siege that continued for six weeks before the compound was stormed, resulting in the deaths of 76 people.

Before you get to Waco, there’s a place called West, three miles south of which there was very briefly a pop-up town called Crush in 1896. This was named after a man called William Crush, who worked for the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad (known as the Katy).

Crush proposed that if the railroad staged a head-on crash between two locomotives, it would attract more passengers. It was a strange idea, but the Crash at Crush, as it was billed, drew an astonishing crowd of 40,000 people, which is a huge number when one considers the population of the state at the time. They happily gawped in wonder as the two steam engines hit head-on with a combined impact speed of about 90mph.

It was not such a great idea. The impact caused the boilers of the two locomotives to explode (which the railroad engineers said would not happen) and the crowd was showeried with shrapnel. Dozens were injured and three people died.

Probably there were a few folks selling lemonade who made a fortune that day.

In some respects Formula 1 fits in with this ethos of making money by attracting people to watch a show and the sport has done very well in the United States in recent years thanks to a large extent to to the Netflix F1 documentary series “Drive to Survive”.

Texans, it seems, are good at promoting things, usually by claiming that whatever is happening is the bigger than the same thing happening elsewhere. Thus it was this year as the Grand Prix claimed to be bigger than Ben Hur. I was told that it would be bigger than Austin’s two famous music festivals: Austin City Limits, which pulls in around 450,000 and South by Southwest, which claims more than 280,000 attendees. I was also told and saw reported on Wikipedia that the race would be the biggest F1 crowd ever. Basic maths suggest that both of these claims were, at best, ropey. The track has an official capacity of 120,000 and with a three-day event the largest possible number was therefore 360,000, although it was clear that while it was busy on the Friday, it was not a full house… I had a scrabble around to find out the biggest properly-recorded crowd in F1 history and, while there may have been some races that were bigger, the largest official figure is a four-day crowd in Adelaide in 1995, of 520,000 people. I was there and I can attest that it was a huge weekend.

Still, the Austin crowd was impressive and the excitement was palpable. And the race provided a great show. So much so that that on Monday, US writers were scribbling about F1 had been bigger than NASCAR during the weekend.

But it is clear that for Liberty Media, which owns the Formula 1 group, this is still the start and much of my race weekend was spent trying to track down two stories: the idea of a Grand Prix in Las Vegas, and the story of Michael Andretti trying to buy Sauber.

To be honest, I’ve been keeping an eye on Las Vegas for many years as Formula 1 is forever trying to get there. Back in the early 1980s the sport dropped in to a parking lot behind Caesars Palace. It was not a success and the idea lapsed quickly. The venue and the timing were just wrong. But in recent years the logic has switched for a number of reasons.

The primary reason is that Las Vegas now needs F1 as much as F1 would like to be in Las Vegas. Why? Well, because the visitor numbers in Sin City have been flat for almost 20 years. There were 36 million visitors a year in 2000 but it took 14 years before that number reached 40 million. The numbers peaked in 2016 at 42.9 million, but then fell back after a mass shooting took place in 2017. And then came the pandemic and the visitor numbers dived to 19 million. They have bounced back, little by little, but they are still down about 17 percent compared to 2019. The other thing is that Las Vegas has consolidated to such an extent that  18 of the 29 casinos are now owned by just two companies: MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. This means that there are fewer people involved in making such decisions. In addition the powerful Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has recently opened a vast new $1 billion West Hall to further boost business in the city. The LVCVA is a government agency which sells the city to the world, running the Monorail system and holding the all-important conventions that keep pulling people to the city.

Formula 1 folk Stefano Domenicali and the company’s director of race promotion Chloe Targett-Adams went to Vegas is recent days for discussions and there are three circuit designs that are being discussed.I heard that there would be a delegation from Las Vegas in Austin and was on the look out for them. Sure enough, I spotted them, with Steve Hill, the CEO and President of LVCVA, leading a group of five executives. They looked rather wide-eyed at what they were seeing and what they were told.

It would obviously help if there was a US driver in Formula 1 and for a period in the days before Austin it looked like there was a real possibility of IndyCar driver Colton Herta taking part in the FP1 session in Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo. There were rumours that Herta had been seen in Switzerland having a seat fitting and a lot of folk believed that a deal would be announced during the weekend in Austin.

I was always sceptical but I do believe that there is sufficient money behind Andretti for a deal to be done… if the price is right. The problem is that the price appears to have rather too wrong for things to go ahead and as negotiations went on to lower the price, the current owner grew bored with the process and decided that he actually quite likes owning an F1 team and would not sell. At least not yet.

That is probably good thinking. The team is not doing well under his ownership, despite a lot of investment, but there is always the hope that with new rules in 2022 things will improve. Perhaps they will… perhaps not. But hope springs eternal in the hearts of F1 team owners and so we must wait and see if Alfa Romeo can get to a more acceptable level of performance. The things is that everyone thinks that they are going to leap up the order in 2022… and they cannot all be first.

Largely this will be dependent on engines and they will remain frozen in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 and so any engine manufacturer who is not in the ball park in 2022 is looking at a long haul ahead. The rule change will spread out the teams to begin with, but chassis performance will close up again in the seasons that follow and so the power unit is really the key to everything. In 2026, when there are new power units rules, and likely there will be new engine manufacturers as well, all will change, but that is still a fair way away. The fact that there are not enough teams around for sale, and that there are two slots available for an 11th and 12th team have led to the fairly logical speculation that there could be some new teams coming up, although the $200 million required to join the party is something of a block. This is needed to ensure that a new team can have immediate access to the F1 prize fund, which means that they have more chance to survive, as that money will be divided up between the teams to make up the difference in revenues if new teams get paid.

At the same time the $200 million means that there will be no time-wasters because it is a lot of money. This is also why rumoured entries from Audi and Porsche have both been rumoured to be NOT starting from scratch but rather buying teams or forging a close partnership with existing teams in need of engines.

Money is still important, of course, which is why it is interesting to see stories of Mercedes switching from Petronas to Aramco sponsorship in 2022. These are not true, but then one must ask why there is speculation. The truth is that Petronas signed a five-year extension to cover the period 2022-2025 with Mercedes as long ago as the end of 2019, but the deal was not made public at the time because of the upheavals going on in Malaysian politics. This is interesting because it shows an even stronger commitment from the Malaysians because the original deal 2010-2014 was a five-year agreement and this was followed by two three-year deals (2015-2017 and 2018-2021). The new deal is another five-year… which says it all.

There is little doubt that Aramco will probably want a sponsorship deal with a team at some point as trackside signage and title sponsorships of races work best when combined with on-car sponsorship. F1 is still very valuable to oil companies (one might say energy firms) as they seek to change perceptions as the world moves towards a greener future.

F1’s desire to adopt synthetic fuels and try to reach zero or even negative emissions in the future is attactive. At the moment there are several oil majors involved in F1 with Red Bull partnered by ExxonMobil, Ferrari with Shell, and Alpine with BP/Castrol. There are smaller deals for McLaren and Aston Martin but they could take bigger deals if they were available. And there is a lot of oil money out there which is not involved in F1. But Aramco is interested in the sport and so is the likely target for Aston Martin and McLaren, with McLaren probably the favourite after a deal was struck recently with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund – the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – to acquire a small share of the McLaren company. So rumours of a deal with Mercedes may have been spread by parties wishing to muddy the waters. It is fair to say that teams are not unwilling to indulge in disinformation if it serves their purposes. Drive to Survive may suggest that relationships between the teams are catty but generally they all love one another. This is not true. There is some very real, and razor-sharp competition involved… and when it comes to big deals, the knives are out.

Along similar lines, there have been some interesting rumours in Australia now that it looks like the country will open up again and let F1 back in in 2022, thus reviving the Australian GP in Melbourne. One suggestion is that New South Wales will be bidding for the Australian GP contract, when the current deal ends after the 2025 race. Well, there are a couple of things that are worth noting with this story: firstly, such rumours have been around for many years and nothing has happened. Secondly, there are state elections in March 2023 and suggestions of big international events being in the pipeline can help a party win votes. The key questions are whether Formula 1 would be more interested in Sydney than in Melbourne; and whether New South Wales could actually deliver a suitebale event. Australians argue all the time about which is the better city, but I think F1 would view Sydney as a better “destination city”, if only because of the globally-known landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

The rumours that are floating about suggest that a street circuit could be laid out in the district known as The Rocks, at the southern end of the Harbour Bridge, with the pit and paddock being on the water front in Barangaroo, on the western side of the bridge, where the new Crown Sydney skyscraper has recently been completed. This is owned by Crown Resorts, which was involved in the Melbourne F1 race back in the 1990s to promote the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The hotel is the tallest building in Sydney and obviously wants to attract high-rollers and so might support such an event. So is it possible? Yes, perhaps. But the state would need to come up with some cash.

And while all politicians are good at talking, not all of them can find the cash to follow through…

But, one must also add, that the COVID-19 pandemic has damaged the tourist business all over the world and there will be more and more cities looking at F1 as being something that will get out the message that their city is back in business.

Interesting times…

42 thoughts on “Green Notebook from Crush, Texas

  1. Any truth to the rumour that Andretti has now walked away from Alfa Romeo deal? if not Herta, do you still think it will be Zhou filling the 2nd seat? Thank you

      1. Yes u said regarding drivers had Andretti taken over, Herta was rumoured. Now that it has collapsed you have not said if this automatically means Zhou is back to being the favourite.Whether this collapse means Vasseur will ultimately go for a sack full of $$$ despite saying he wouldn’t as he clearly believed Andretti would come in at that moment.

  2. It was nice to see you back on the grid in Austin, green notebook in hand. Enjoy sunny CA! I assume you are staying there visiting your family until you head to Mexico?

    While I agree that having an American driver in F1 would help it somewhat in gaining more US fans and would love to see Colton Herta (a true generational talent) compete, I don’t think it would be the thing that suddenly leads to widespread popularity here. Same with the not happening Andretti team. I have never understood the nationalistic fervor some people have supporting a driver/team from their own country(see the Orange Army screaming MAXMAXMAX). I could really care less where drivers are from as long as they are fast on the track. I would never support a driver that doesn’t deserve it solely based on a flag. As an American I was never rooting for Scott Speed because he was one as well. But that’s just me, to each their own. The world would be a boring place if we all thought the same. Enjoy your break.

    1. American English: As a sixty-something Brit, I am curious to know what is it that in recent years has caused the frequent dropping by American correspondents of the word “not” from the phrase “I could not care less…”?

      Call me old fashioned but, to me, that omission rather reverses the intended meaning. Just curious, that’s all….

      1. I believe the meaning is: I could care less (…but I don’t). Thus implying that we have reached the absolute zero of caring. But I may be wrong

      2. Colin, this is not a recent thing. Bill Bryson’s book about the English language ‘Mother Tongue’ mentions the Americanised ‘I could care less’ as being in common usage; that book was published in 1990, so it’s obviously been doing the rounds for some time. I don’t think it elaborates on the origins of the divergence of the phrase, but I would recommend the book for anyone curious about the English language.

        I would also heartily recommend all of Joe’s books, all of which are a fascinating read!

      3. Agree. It states that the person could actually care less and thus does care a little bit about whatever it is they care about, however much that is.

      4. If you read Bill Bryson you will find that many “Americanisms” are English as ’twas 200 plus years ago, in this regard it is us that have moved on. Not sure if this particular ism is thus.

  3. Interesting that you suggest Crown Resorts in Melbourne and Burangaro in Sydney could influence the city selection for the Oz GP Joe. Both are part of the Crown Group which has failed the test for a Casino license in Sydney, and as a result of the findings of a Royal Commission is balanced on a very slippery slope in Melbourne.
    Meanwhile the Oz GP should go ahead next year provided the teams, the followers and spectators all turn up double jabbed. The country has received a fair amount of criticism for it’s attitude to Covid but looks like coming out the other end with just about the lowest death or serious illness rate in the world
    Oldtony

  4. Thanks Joe I was wondering if you were OK. The Andretti deal is dead from what I read this morning to bad. You have safe and good time in Mexico.

  5. Las Vegas is a poor choice, the city feels tired and obsolete in an era of legalized gambling and online betting. the downtown is grotesque and is surrounded by hundreds of sq miles of ghastly housing developments. Miami/Texas/ ?. The politics of motor racing just won’t work in Blue states like Ca thus the Vegas the closest F1 can get to the west coast

    1. Agreed. It’s kinda like a weird adult disney land, but it has a sod all else to offer, at least as far as I could see on my trip there, in 2004. It needs to offer more than just gambling if it wants to grow those visitor numbers.

    2. Tired and obsolete? The Strip is getting back to normal after Chinese Flu and I don’t think many people go to obseve housing developments. The Grand Canyon is nearby, which itself attracts people in its own right. If anything a real crown puller like Formula 1 is just what Vegas needs, much like the IRB 7’s did for the city. When Formula 1 first went to Long Beach it was a rundown area with hotel rooms available by the hour and a crime area. Now look at it. In an ideal world F1 would discover Road America or go back to The Glen as they are great circuits, but we now in this destination city era, of which Miami is one, particulalry if you in Cuba and have a canoe or a life raft.

  6. As always, thanks for sharing these, Joe.

    Texas, like many of the Bible belt, southern states is very conservative and boastful regarding how great they are and in the modern, Trumpish America anyone claiming to provide the greatest single anything becomes they latest political darling to my fellow, horribly undereducated countrymen. Such is the case with the Texas legislature and their cartoonish governor.

    Sadly, It is not conspiratorial to think that the following was put out there knowingly false as a great truth, because this is apparently what so many want to believe: “Thus it was this year as the Grand Prix claimed to be bigger than Ben Hur. I was told that it would be bigger than Austin’s two famous music festivals: Austin City Limits, which pulls in around 450,000 and South by Southwest, which claims more than 280,000 attendees. I was also told and saw reported on Wikipedia that the race would be the biggest F1 crowd ever.”

    As for the Las Vegas numbers being stagnant, I genuinely (although have not invested the time to support it with facts – hence a conspiracy I buy into? Hmm) believe this is related to the rapid acceptance of legalized gambling in near every state over this same time span. One simply does NOT need go to Vegas to waste away one’s money when one can do it at the casino or gaming coffee house around every other corner.

    Enjoy the Mexican GP, one which somehow intrigues me more than the COTA experience each year.

    1. Lost Wages has also expended a lot of effort and $$$ into rebranding itself as “family-friendly”, thereby putting itself into direct competition with a million and one other destinations that already fit this description.

      1. US household savings has leapt from can. $50mm annualized to over $230mm pa.

        transport network density is positively correlated to lower savings rates, while food purchasing as a proportion of family budgets has swung dramatically in textbook samples for textbook cohorts. Kinda. *this kind of momentum has played out and proven predictable, but once you price it in, the number and variety of factors at play are going to be the most important logistics study for the millennium to many minds I’m trying to figure what railroad stock to look to hold.

        meanwhile air freight (via Alaska – no Johnny Foreigners allowed to fly freight — bombs away! inter state, fortunately the Great Circle flights make this perfectly fine in fact better than direct (most expensive air miles reduced by hops – this is also why you are not seeing electric aviation – rockets ditch spent stages for a reason — THIS I will gladly pay Formula E to mimic, laying tactical used cell chicanes to defeat push to overtake seems fair reaction to me

        can F1 afford the logistics given the trends?

        is BCE still doing the freight? Does Bernie own the airframe leases and have avgas contracts forward far?

        the practical side of F1 looks like a prime opportunity for garnering some widespread public sympathy from regular folk otherwise disinterested…

        *urban / suburban /rural /boondocks high swing (takeaways) / highly sensitive to individual circumstances either way (larger households buying take out dinners but singletons feeling infrastructure overheads and young couples buying Whole Foods and ready to cook kits / lower (cutting discretionary in town extras) / high trend and collapse (preppers, bulk storage and local resale opportunity, but over bought and setting down)

      2. I thought it was a sign to bail from MGM, but the big names are ahead of the curve of the armchair gambler, having been through a full boom and bust liberalisation and prohibition complete with extraditions of pesky alien executives done too good, and a industry near shut down, all of about “just before Bitcoin got big”. Coincidence?

        The gaming industry is incredibly conservative, that’s exactly why the mob took so well to Vegas, because the morality and sentiment only a generation ago let them heavy deadbeats (whatever the label of convenience, see “But He Was Good To His Mother ” Meyer Lansky busting white mischief trust fund NAZI sympathisers under [un]official instruction…) and debt was still so fearful and degrading to admit that victims of violence self censored enough for the mob hold on gaming to last into the nineties almost overlapping Steve Wynn and his Drexel / Mike Milken Junk Bond money wall. Milken never played politics or he’d not have got 12 years for a couple of misdemeanours before getting Dershwitz &Co on appeal.. But he could easily have used cleaning up the Strip and Atlantic City.. and keeping the reservations down and out… instead of being turned into a pariah despite his entire career destroyed more fat cat excess than anyone in history even talked about.

        Gaming people understand crazies and probably have a view on F1 too but aren’t pricing this market yet. Lewis keeps seeming to be too defensive – which can appear arrogant to the American public – to crack the US of A. MSC blubbing and bawling “the horror it’s terrible terrible matching Senna, you can’t understand the pain ” I am not meaning to be irreverent about, far be it, the man is beyond my petty critical chatter, MSC and anything other than sincerity have never met – but I added a touch of melodrama how that presser could be seen by a naive non fan and a young man in America to who winning has no kind of such emotional associations or complexity and depth of feeling. Lewis I have started thinking needs a huge hug every time his arms out stretch to mark another victory, I feel that something is just not there for him that if he only told us maybe it could never be found this way, but I bet you that a few more tens of millions of potential fans would understand how he’s feeling pretty darn good.

      3. “family friendly” post Wynne Vegas…

        “The Hangover” movies IMNHO signalled the end. If that’s what we think is cool and funny, grown men degrading themselves enough to make me talk like my God Fearing grandmother in her day, I don’t want to risk joining the copy cat crowd..Like I said, gaming folk are too far ahead to get hit by the impact of something like that, but that’s a problem in my book being so clever to detach not merely from your roots but also home base.

        Give 100 red blooded young enough Southern States boys enough practice to stage ahy kind of Formula.FUTURE.power knockout race in V10s the Last Huzzah, and it’ll be standing room only halfway to Lake Taho. Yes you can do this – saying ceremonial goodbyes to evil fossil fuel will even bring the crazies who you can explain why F1 can halve all ex China emissions with efficient ICEs but the ecopouts have condemned F1 to the sidelines instead of being the first source for the most advanced answers that you knew we’d get the minute fuel limits were written in the rulebooks. ALL of ExxonMobil (Musk can now buy from his TESLA shares with change) and everyone in fossils would have F1s back if you only let Americans actually have a say in some way to show everyone what we have got which just happens to come in very different styles and packaging but we’re willing to unwrap. Attention to ICE efficiency cutting global emissions by half needing the most advanced fuels at least showing results for research dollars. Mercedes-Benz ice tech? American super computing and engineering sciences and advanced physics from the largest combination of open national labs – we boom and bust twice every decade through misery but keep delivering the goods. This year 2022 roughly 15 years of computing tech that’s gotten log jammed behind manufacturing process hitches is coming right thru. 15 years of a few percent here and there now 60 plus 20 then hundreds of percent improvements every which way Round One just served and this is a Banquet courses Atkinson meal. So you could run more simulations for chassis and aero and combustion efficiency come 23 than the regs want to allow anyone to finish in a decade at the imaginary budget cap guided rates. Like for like capacity against pre limits running more simulation than ever done every few months. I grossly underestimate because you can straight up rent per hour capital machine capacity sizeable fractions of top team budgets, with a credit card. the good stuff is available direct bypass channels that took my career 20s to just understand.

        (the NV desert actually has a tier one data center operation using heat exchangers and the desert night cold.. Austin is silicon valleys silent partner also silent about COTA but consider a little matter of respect : China on streams more new fossil emissions output annually than Germany has to turn off. European engineering in Autos is sorely needed but with electrical anything we’re not the same kind of bet – Bugatti – Rimac worries me to divert such a brilliant young man Mate Rimac who is really what people want Musk to be like but Musk kicked out his founding man in ancient history.. and people want more than a Plaid Elise Even when being cautious embracing America is the gesture that’s expected but nobody has monopoly on cool heads )

        technology with a F1 connection played a significant part :

        light projectors made possible scenic illumination of the cityscape making it possible to perceive a return from investment in architecture build out that was traditionally behind the scenes – anything not attraction attention span vision arc never was treated with as much as a mechanical engineering and safety glance that now became a city scale vertical canvas to fill with Bellagio fountains * or the Parisien boulevard, OK Paris was a special build, but mini Staten Island Spirit and everything over 20 foot tall became a advertising placement of unknown but potentially unlimited equity value.

        AS soon as you can pick you illumination this specifically you can tailor the color temperature and spectra of electrical lights to swing visitors moods and emotions and turn outdoor black nights into warm cozy combination coast comers comp cradles and cash catcher capital community complaint conquering capitalist cribs.

        The real reason why Vegas never got another race?

        The advertising densities are too low.

        forget who controls whatever to do with F1, turn any which way in Vegas and your eyeballs are burned out with messages.

        in comparison, even the amazing F1 circus doesn’t have that breakdown intensity that makes even sane people place dumb bets.

        *I am imagining a infrastructure bond with a convertible call on the cash settled derivative value increase in all industry business every time that remakes “gang got away good” reunion scene plays. Helluva duration behaviour.

  7. Thanks for the fascinating post Joe, it’s a joy to read after every race meeting.

    Just regarding the Aus GP possibly moving to a Sydney-based track.

    This is a signature move in the NSW government wheelhouse. The PR reps roll it out every time there is something going on in NSW state politics that needs to be buried.

    NSW’s generally well-regarded State Premier resigned a few weeks ago as she is the subject of an independent corruption enquiry, which was about to uncover the juiciest revelations as this ‘rumour’ came though. The NSW Deputy Premier also resigned, which is specualted to be a pre-empitve measure as some of his conduct could be the subject of the next enquiry.
    And so the NSW government makes noises about trying to bring a major event to Sydney…

    Going by your recent reporting on the topic, clearly a lot of damage has been been done by the Victorian State Goverment in the eyes of F1 management which makes the AGP an easy target.

    The only way the Australian Grand Prix would move to Sydney is if it can be run around the Harbour.

    It’s doubtful there will be enough popular support for F1 there in its current formula, and then there is the question if the NSW Government can stomach the cost to host the race and out-compete its Victorian counterpart who love to spend.
    I note the recent V8 Supercar events held around the Sydney Olympic Park precinct were shipped out to a regional city due to local criticism.

    Any other proposed venue in NSW would be a downgrade from Albert Park, except for perhaps Bathurst.

    1. Bathurst would be absolutely magic. But what would need to be done for FIA certification as an F1 track (is it even possible), the cost and what would it do to the tracks real character. Can you imagine what the Supercar aficionados will do if you mess with that track? It would be seriously ugly.

    2. I think the reason they left Sydney Olympic park was in part the criticism by residents, but it was a very expensive even to run and not a popular event. Also I think Newcastle was sniffing around for an event and bit off the Supercars organisers for an event.

      There is no chance that Bathurst would be able to be made F1 capable, but it would be fun to see Brundle doing a walk up on the camping grounds after the locals have had a few cans, he might be the one this time that was looking for a body guard or two 😀

      1. I went to all 8 Homebush Supercar street races.The reason they left was that crowds were terrible.By the end they were probably only about 10% of what they were in the first year.
        The Bend is another stupid idea.Even besides the fact that the track is not F1 homologised it is 100k’s out of Adelaide with no nearby public transport and road access that chokes with a 10,000 crowd at a Supercar meeting.

  8. There is, of course, Adelaide with its superb facility at ‘The Bend Motorsport Park’. South Australia has suffered the least impact from Covid of all the states. Life is close to normal. International tourism will recommence soon so our doors will be open. Half a million visitors would be most welcome.

  9. Great notebook as usual, Joe, thanks for all this information!
    A bit of a side comment here, but I think you’re the right expect to ask! I was confused about track limit infringements at the US GP. It seems to me that at some tracks, the kerbs are considered part of the track (hence a car has to have the 4 wheels outside of the kerb to be considered having left the track), and at some other tracks the kerbs are not considered part of it (this seems to be the cade in Austin).
    What’s the general rule?

    Thank you!

    1. It’s even worse than you describe. At a number of races this year we have had kerbs at one corner, white lines at another, at the same race. And the rules have changed as the weekend progressed. According to the Sky F1 UK team, next year it is to be white lines at every corner, every race.

    2. Isn’t the distinction between these cases to do with whether an advantage can be gained by running off track? If an advantage can be gained by running off the track (as compared to on it) then the stewards issue a warning pre-race and look very closely at anyone doing that. Presumably if there is no advantage or a disadvantage then the ‘offence’ carries it’s own punishment and thus not looked at. I’ve always assumed this is why warnings are given at only some corners (and might change from one year to the next)?

  10. Other media reports that Andretti was unable to guarantee sufficient future funding for Sauber. This apparently was the stumbling block – not the acquisition price / valuation itself.

    An entirely honourable position by the current owner, Islero Investments. F1 has seen enough people arrive and then lack capacity to keep a team solvent: Fitzpatrick, Mallya, Storey, Branson, Fernandes, Haas etc.

    1. I need to add Stroll to that list, now his AMR £200m bond issue has failed. Both AML and AMR are swimming in debt and both are lossmaking. Does Stroll have a deep enough wallet? We shall soon see.

  11. We’re told Haas would sell, but presumably that’s not the model Andretti wants – though from the outside you’d think it might be?

  12. F1 should look at Phoenix, a far more vibrant city with a built in multi cultural fan base. The PGA event there is a massive success and it would pull fans from SoCal, myself included.

  13. I would not be at all.surprised if the majority shareholders at Hinwil are keeping an eye on the planned VAG brand entries.. Probably a better financial ‘out’ option in all areas than the Andretti proposal was.

    Ref Australia, F1 really should get a round booked at The Bend even if it’s a 1-2 year stop gap until a new razamatazz street circuit deal materialises. Talem Bend is a phenomenal circuit.

    Regarding USA Long Beach was always ‘right’ as an F1 venue. As was the Glen. COTA is someway there to hitting that sweetspot with locals ablnd the global enthusiasts.
    Miami better be good or it will be embarassing for all concerned.
    3rd US event needs to be another permanent road course. Either upgrade Glen, Elkhart Lake, Laguna or Virginia, not some gimmick in Vegas.

  14. F1 Las Vegas, bring your own water!
    Has Las Vegas solved their gigantic water problem? Did aliens arrive and refill Lake Mead? Surely it has not long to live before the whole town is shut down.

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