Brown: F1 'hot' in the US, even without a US driver

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McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown would love to see an American driver in Formula 1, but insists the sport is "hot" in the U.S. even without such a presence.

Once a tough market to crack for motorsport's elite, America has embraced F1 in the past few years thanks in large part to the success of the country's race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin and to a tail wind provided by the popular Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Formula 1 has capitalized on its growth in the U.S. by adding a second race this season in Miami, while a third venue – Las Vegas – will has been added to the schedule for 2023.

F1's penchant for the U.S. is now only missing one thing: an American driver on the grid.

Michael Andretti's efforts last year to join the fray by acquiring Alfa Romeo F1/Sauber promised to bring a young American hopeful back into the sport for the first time since Alexander Rossi in 2012.

But that plan was shot down by Andretti and Sauber failing to agree a deal.


McLaren has been doing its part by giving Colton Herta some testing exposure while the IndyCar star was earmarked by Red Bull for a potential race seat at AlphaTauri until the energy drink company abandoned its efforts to lobby the FIA for a superlicence exemption.

All hope of seeing an American charger on the grid next season hasn't been lost however, as Williams is seriously considering promoting its F2 protégé Logan Sargeant to a race seat in 2023.

But all things considered, Brown believes an American driver and a US-based team in F1 would be an extra bonus for the sport, they are not a commercial necessity.

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"I think it would be great for both of them to happen, it would further enhance Formula 1 here," Brown told at Laguna Seca recently.

"But we don’t have either today and look how popular Formula 1 is now in America.

"So I’d love to see it happen, but I don’t think it has to happen. Because Formula 1 is hot today without it."

Brown is one of the rare F1 team bosses to support Andretti Global's candidacy, with most of his colleagues, and indeed Formula 1 itself, reticent to add an eleventh team to the grid as its presence would take a slice out of its current revenue.

But Brown considers that stance "very short sighted", with teams thinking about "what’s only in their best interest in the short term."

"We think a little bit differently," added the American. "I think someone like Andretti could help make the sport grow.

"What we might lose out in the short term by sharing prize money will come back to us with more TV ratings, more sponsorship out of North America, etc.

"It’s a handful of teams that are trying to protect their own income and don’t see the bigger picture."

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