Low spectator numbers have plagued Formula One in the United States over the years, resulting in moves to different circuits in the search for a ‘home’. We are yet to see whether The Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas will be the new home for Formula One in the country, although everything looks good prior to the race. If it does deliver on its promise, and we find a home, the next step will be achieving a fully developed fan base in order to prevent spectator numbers dwindling once the novelty factor has gone. Michael Andretti and Scott Speed are the only two American drivers to have driven in Formula One in the last twenty years with little success between them, but an American driver competing in Formula One is exactly what is needed to create interest and entice fans long term.
Historically, young drivers in America have often been lured into the world of Nascar with the promise of big money, therefore passing up the chance to drive in Formula One. Currently though, there are two drivers from the US on the F1 radar. Alex Rossi from Nevada, a two time GP3 winner, drove a Caterham in Free Practice 1 in Spain earlier this year. Although hopeful of a run at his home race, it has been confirmed that current drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, will be given all the running in Texas in order to give them maximum understanding of the new track. Rossi will, however, be involved in promotional events across the weekend. The other young American driver is Conor Daly, son of Formula One and Indycar racer Derek Daly, who has been involved in a test for Force India.
There is an indication that more American drivers may make it into Formula One, as the possibility of a GP2 or GP3 style championship taking place to support the sport in the United States, Brazil and Canada has recently been announced. The GP2 and GP3 are European feeder series for Formula One and have produced talent such as: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado. With F1 races already being run in Austin, Sao Paulo, and Montreal, and talk of future races in Rio da Janeiro, Mexico and New Jersey, there would be enough events to create such a series. An American series like the one currently run in Europe would be instrumental in boosting the popularity of the sport, as well as developing and nurturing more American talent, which will in turn help to cement the success of the sport Stateside.