The Circuit of the Americas welcomed 440,000 people to the United States Grand Prix over the three days of the weekend, which was a new record for Formula 1. The North American track built several grandstands to accommodate 40,000 more fans than to last season’s race, in addition to increasing transportation options to reach the complex.
This has put the half-million mark in the sights of the Austin race for the future, with venue boss Track Director Bobby Epstein believing it could be reached as soon as next year, provided the fan experience is not diluted.
“We can get it,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the chances of that. “We are testing our fleet of buses, it is much better, we have gone from 300 to 600, and if that works and the times are possible, it will be the litmus test for it to work.”
“We have to turn it into something very big, and if that works, we can grow,” explained the head of the American circuit. “So it could be the next season.”
The track quickly sold out of the additional tickets it put up for sale for the 2022 race, while the areas around the first corner hill were full. Epstein stated that there was already a demand for half a million tickets, but that the most important thing was to ensure that the experience was the best it could be.
The track in the United States continued its tradition of hosting concerts during the grand prix weekend, in this case with Ed Sheeran, Green Day and Interpol , and steps were also taken to improve aspects such as the food and drink offerings.
“I don’t think it should be about necessarily getting to 500,000, but about carefully growing to make sure we can continue to handle everyone,” he said. “That’s what we do, we don’t drive the cars, we have nothing to do with the quality of the racing, all we can do is worry about parking, food, fun and entertainment, that’s what we focus on.”
Next season’s United States Grand Prix looks set to feature a local driver on the grid for the first time since 2015, as Williams plans to sign Logan Sargeant , pending his superlicense.
Epstein considered that getting an American driver is now “more significant than it would have been a few years ago” given the growth of Formula 1 in the country: “It is much more valuable than before, if they asked me that even three or four years ago I’d say it would be nice to have, but now it’s going to be great.”
“The biggest step is that we can have an American in the front row, as there is only one time when people will pay attention to a driver with the options that we have, they want to see winners,” he said.
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