Michael Schumacher. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP
At an FIA press conference earlier today ahead of the Turkey Grand Prix this weekend, Michael Schumacher expressed enthusiasm about both the Istanbul Park race and the return of an F.1 race here in the USA by 2012.
The question regarding a US F.1 race was posed by Dan Knutson of National Speed Sport News who asked the drivers: "Bernie Ecclestone has announced that there will be a US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. I’m looking at your T-shirts and caps and I see names like Mercedes Benz, Red Bull, AT&T. How important is it for your teams’ sponsors to have a race in the US?"
"Certainly, it’s one of the beautiful places around the world to go to and enjoy some good times, lots of great opportunities." said Schumacher. "For me, naturally, I love to go and race there as it allows me to spend some days before the race to hang out there and enjoy it. But more important for most of the manufacturers that are involved in Formula One, America is a very important market. If you think of how many countries like Brazil, Argentina, all those countries in South America, how many we had of those guys at Indy, then we should have even more, because logistically it’s easier to go to Texas than all the way up to Indy. Hopefully, that’s the case because one of the points that we have been missing is the sort of excitement that Formula One can create and can give to the fans that are in America."
While the USA is dominated by NASCAR and Indy Car racing, which is highly successful in its own right - NASCAR reputably being second in annual revenue earnings only to F.1 - there is still plenty of support for the sport of F.1 here. "Yeah, it has not fully arrived..." added Schumacher, "but quite honestly you cannot expect those things to happen overnight. You have to give it continuation, and this continuation hasn’t happened for a long enough time, plus maybe we haven’t yet got a known or successful American driver in our group that would be quite helpful for this. But certainly from our point of view we are very happy to go there."
Read the full transcript of the FIA press conference from the sport's official website here at: http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2010/5/10831.html
The collapse of the USF1 team prior to the 2010 season was a bitter blow to fans here looking to see a greater infusion of American talent. It highlighted the challenges of getting a team up and running and future investors in the sport will be watching with interest the fortunes of Lotus, Virgin and HRT as they struggle to get on their feet this year.
By 2012 the sport will have changed again dramatically, with talk of changes to engine sizes and the introduction of turbo power and other fuel saving technology designed to make Formula One more relevant given the current demands of the auto industry. It will be great to see F.1 again in the USA and I know some great fishing spots here in Minnesota if Michael Schumacher is interested in seeing some other parts of this great country - but I digress.
(Nico Rosberg arrives at Istanbul Park. Tomorrow's free practice might reveal a little about the changes Mercedes GP Petronas and several other teams have made since Monaco. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas)
Schumacher and Rosberg will be hoping to reel in some decent points this weekend if all things go to plan. Schumacher expressed that there was potential for the updated package to deliver, but he warned there was still plenty of competition from the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and of course Renault. Mark Webber confirmed at today's press conference that they would be using a version of the F-duct system several teams have adopted now following McLaren's lead. That must be a worrying sign for the other teams.
It will be a challenging race, but one which Schumacher indicates in the video below, that he is looking forward to.
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