COTA boss unconcerned by prospect of more US Grands Prix

© XPB 

Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein says he's not worried by the prospect of even more races being held in the United States in the future.

COTA is currently home to the official United States Grand Prix which is held in October, but this year a second US race in Miami has joined the calendar in May. Next year will see another race, with F1 cars taking to the Las Vegas Strip for the first time.

But Epstein says that the explosion of fan interest in Formula 1 over the last two years means there's more than enough interest to justify adding further races in the future without affecting the financial viability of the US GP.

"The demand in the US right now is incredible, and will absolutely support three races, and could support many more," he told this week.

"The other events are so unique," he explained. "Vegas is going to be under the lights at night, and a very different event ... [It will be] just bold America in the most entertaining way.

"Miami is the international city that Miami is, and it's a different end of the calendar," he said. "Miami has the glitz and the glamour and the wonderful destination that Miami is and the international flavour there.

I don't think it's any different for us as is Montreal or Mexico City, or for that matter, Hungary or Australia," Epstein insisted. "It's just a different race at a different time of year, and there's plenty of fans in the US to support them all.

"I think we'll continue to be both a favourite for the racing purist, for the festival-goer, and I think also for the value buyer," he said.

"On-track competition that really satisfies the true racing fan in terms of just the ability to overtake and the hills and the curves, and the fact that fans can see eight or 10 turns from one seat."

One aspect of the content on the track is a close championship battle like last year's which came down to the wire in 2021 but this year seems to be almost done and dusted with Max Verstappen's huge 80 point lead in the driver standings.

"We don't control the content on the track, we control the entertainment and your off-track experience.

"I have to say that when we get the championship concluded here, it’s less exciting than when it comes down to the last lap of the last race," Epstein told Reuters.

"Everyone likes to see excitement so in many, many ways I hope the championship doesn’t end here. I think it’s better for the sport if it goes as long as it can into the season."

Epstein is certainly pleased with the way that ticket sales have gone for this year's event, which will mark the tenth anniversary of F1 at COTA. He says the expectation is that attendance will "crush last year's numbers".

Last year COTA played host to 400,000 fans over the course of the race weekend, making it F1's largest live attendance of the season. It's just signed a new hosting contract keeping F1 in Austin through to 2026.

"If everything is not sold out, then almost everything is sold out," he said. "It actually was within two days of going on sale in spring. It's amazing."

So confident is Epstein in the growth of the sport in the US, COTA is adding a new 6000-seater grandstand. "Our capacity could be a lot higher, and that's one thing we'll look to do over the next few years.

"We just got a new road out to the circuit, which we badly needed," he added. "Americans maybe more than elsewhere aren’t patient with lines and have high expectations with traffic and logistics.

"As long as we feel like people can have a good experience and we can execute on that, those are the things we focus on."

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