Domenicali targets 'huge payoff' with US F1 expansion, touts return to Africa

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New Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has highlighted growth in America and a return to Africa as key goals moving forward.

This year, the sport is set to hold its biggest championship yet with 23 Grands Prix, but as interest in potential new races remains high, that number could yet rise further.

One potential addition has been the much-maligned second US race in Miami, which has been a target for Liberty Media since 2017, but in that time the race has had to change location and still faces huge local opposition.

However, Domenicali, who replaced Chase Carey as F1 boss last month, does still see it as a leading candidate to join Austin, even if it is not the only option.

"Miami is more advanced in terms of discussion, but there are others in other areas of the American country," the Italian said this week.

"But they are not at the level where I can say, ‘yes, they are there,’ and I can anticipate something happening.

"I think that in the next couple of months we will decide what there will be in terms of possible discussion with regard to that country, and eventual rotation or stabilizing with two [Grands Prix] that are fixed. So it's a work in progress."

One known alternative to Miami is a return to Indianapolis, which last held F1 back in 2007, but even without a second event for now, Domenicali still sees huge potential.

"I can guarantee to you there is now big interest in the USA with Formula 1," he said. "But it's wrong to go there one week, and let's say you have an incredible push one week before the Austin race and then be silent.

"What we have is a plan of communication quite strong in the US. We need to hammer information with the right channels in a continuous way.

"It will take a lot of start-up time in terms of investment, but the payoff will be huge. So this is part of our strategic global communication campaign that we need to push this year."

Elsewhere, Domenicali spoke about the fate of the Vietnam GP, which spent millions in building the permanent part of its street circuit in Hanoi, only to have its inaugural race cancelled by Covid-19 and be dropped from the calendar in 2021.

“Vietnam is not any more in the calendar but it’s still an open option,” said Domenicali. “It has been an incredible investment and therefore it’s still on the table of discussion for a future event.”

Another area of the world showing interest is the African continent, which hasn't held a race since Kyalami's final race back in 1993.

"That is basically in North Africa [and] South Africa, that I can tell," he admitted. “This is something that’s very important, I think, in terms of having a new place or old place with a great heritage back in Formula 1.”

Finally, the F1 boss addressed the multiple circuits in Europe which stepped up to fill the calendar last year and have indicated a wish to remain on the schedule.

“What is going to happen in the future is that we need to decide what is the right balance in terms of number of races, what are the areas that we need to strategically invest for teams – interest for broadcasters, interest for media and for sponsor interest – and decide what would be the right way to go, knowing that the 23 races is in the top end of the scale of what we are doing today," Domenicali said.

“For sure, if we are doing a good product, you may say that if the value is high you may reach the same kind of business without being too numerous in terms of races, and that could be the approach. If you’re able to do the right choices, I think that would be the way to go. It will not be maybe the shortest time, but that’s the target I would say.”