In the world of automotive races, Formula 1 is for Europe and IMS and COTA are for United States, there is no globalization that could help, if the two categories do not start to cooperate. McLaren’s chief Zak Brown understands that while he was having dinner in a New York restaurant, when Michael Strahan, a fomer Giants defensive now famous as a TV star, came to talk to him and shouted“You’re the guy on Netflix!”, a clear reference of the Netflix series “Drive To Survive”.
Yes, Netflix. Not McLaren nor F1. At this point, the American executive began to reflect on how much work there is to do to bring Formula 1 and IMS closer and proposes a partnership with COTA.
“Michael Strahan would not have any clue who I am, if it wasn’t for Netflix,- Brown remarks - He comes up to me in a New York restaurant, super nice guy, loves McLaren, but the first thing he said is, ‘I’ve seen you on Netflix.' ”
F1 and the United States have parted ways in 2008-2009 until 2012, when Bernie Ecclestone brought the Circus back into “the New World”, but even then no partnership have been made between F1 and IMS because of the two leaders, the same Ecclestone and Tony George haven’t come to an agreement on financial terms to bring in IMS. Ecclestone was said to be frustrated by the possible partnership resolving only in a couple of billboards about Indy.
“I think he even said he saw some other racing billboards still up for other racing series,- Zak Brown remembers.
“I think – he then adds - you’ve got to work a little bit harder because the fans have so many different opportunities for entertainment. But I think Roger would do that in a heartbeat. I think (IMS) is the most famous, largest sporting venue in the world. I think the city did a great job with the Super Bowl. It showed it knows how to put on world-class events. I’d say, IMS 20 years ago didn’t have the same promoter skill-set, if you like, as it does today.”
From 2012 until today, Formula 1 had always have a Grand Prix in the US, if we don’t consider the exception of 2020 for the pandemic and the new CEO Stefano Domenicali made a second one possible, with Miami coming to F1 in 2022. Yet, Brown still believes it is not enough and he proposes this cooperation with COTA, along with the possibility to host a GP in Indianapolis.
“I’ve voiced my opinion (to Stefano) that I think Indianapolis should have a Grand Prix. – he said - I think I’d like to see in America three Grands Prix, but the schedule may not allow for three. I’d like to see one permanent one, and then maybe a rotation. Then, you get three markets, and you keep the enthusiasm and the excitement if you have a little bit more scarcity.”
“I think Miami needs to run on an annual basis ... but now that (COTA) has been built, I don’t know if it needs it every year.- he says - And Indianapolis, because it’s built, I don’t think it needs it every year. So I could see a scenario where you went to Miami, and you rotated Austin and Indy. (…) Everybody wins. I think if you put all that together, it would be very successful as it was, but then it started to taper off,- McLaren boss highlights. “That tapering off might stop or lessen. And you’ve got Roger, who’s a great promoter, and maybe you run IndyCar as part of it as well. I think it would be great for IndyCar. There’s magic that can be worked there.”
Indycar could exploit the situation to become more known all around the world, but it could be a great opportunity for F1 to conquer that part of America who still doesn’t care about the Circus. Who knows, maybe next time a Tv star will talk to Brown in a restaurant will mention his role for McLaren earlier than mentioning a Netflix show.