After what was one of the most highly anticipated events in Formula One in Miami, the sport continues what is an impressive rise in popularity on the United States, helped of course by a greater social media engagement with fans and Netflix’s Drive To Survive docuseries.
Reflecting on this at the weekend in Miami, McLaren’s team boss and CEO Zak Brown has explained to MotorLAT and other selected media outlets how F1 is “the healthiest” he’s ever seen, as he outlines that currently the sport has “the correct number of grand prix’s” with its longest-ever, 23-race calendar:
“(It’s the) healthiest I’ve ever seen the sport. You have 10 teams that work extremely well, funding has a strong action group, correct number of grand prix’s, with the correct attendance, you have record sponsorship, very certainly revenue, you have growth in America.
“I’ve not seen a healthier Formula One since the six years I’ve been here, but (also) the 20 years I’ve been in this business,” said the American.
His views were backed by Haas’s team principal Guenther Steiner, who went as far as saying Formula One is not necessarily needing an American driver right now, as it is “going by itself” in terms of popularity in the United States:
“I think at the moment, the growth is so strong, I don’t think it would make a lot of difference right now, but it would very good. But at the moment, it’s going by itself, there’s an American team as well. Obviously, an American driver would help accelerate everything but at the moment there is a good growth around here, so I think nobody is going to get a driver like this (right now),” Steiner said.
On the subject of sprint races, the 2022 season was supposed to hold six Sprint events, but the number was cut back to three after a disagreement between Formula 1 and the FIA. Steiner says he and his team are in favour of six races for the 2023 season, and explains he doesn’t have a say on the disagreements between the two entities:
“We, as a team, stand for six races – sprint races – next year. I think if you all saw Imola, it was a success in my opinion. Obviously not every sprint race will be like that, but if we have five out of six like this is a big success.
“All the numbers and the data show that people are interested, they made this all possible. I’m in the void of what the FIA is doing with FOM, I’m not involved. They will figure something out. I think all the teams, or at least we want, we are for six sprint races next year.”
Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Mick Schumacher (Haas) on track in Miami - Image by Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT
With a new FIA president in action this year – Mohammed Ben Sulayem - the first signs of a deterioration in the relationship between F1 and the maximum authorities of FIA. Questioned as to why the disagreement happened in the first place, as it is unusual to have such disconnects between FIA and F1, Steiner reiterated that he’s not a part of the conversations and that “nothing is forever”:
“Nothing is forever. I wouldn’t say surprised. I think if they have to sort it out, they have to sort it out you know. We are used to certain things happening, and it didn’t. I don’t have (a say), so I get out of it, it’s not my thing to sort out,” concluded Steiner.
Brown said he was indeed “surprised” the entities weren’t aligned on the matter of Sprint races and hadn’t discussed beforehand, but says it will be “sorted” eventually:
“I think the FIA and Formula One, at least since I’ve been around, have always been pretty aligned, coming in their meetings. The team and all were a bit surprised that they hadn’t discussed that in advance, and hadn’t aligned by the time they had come into the meeting. But I think that at the end of the day, we’ll be sorted.”