Will Miami deal help F1 to crack US market once and for all?

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To talk about F1 needing to crack the US market seems strange when we look back at the history of the sport.

No country in the world has hosted Grand Prix races at more venues (10) as the US, yet, here we are in 2021 still asking whether the latest deal with Miami will finally be the one that ignites long-term mainstream interest in the sport in the States.

A sport without a home

There have been over 50 Grand Prix events in the US with the first race held under FIA rules hosted in Savannah, Georgia back in 1908. After that, the sport meandered hobo-like around the country, failing to find a permanent home until 1961 when Watkins Glen became the longest-lived of all the US Grand Prix venues.

The New York State-based track hosted races right up until 1980; however, its inconvenient out-of-town location (four hours from New York City) saw crowds dwindle and it was eventually scrapped.

ReneArnoux FRA Ferrari 126 C2B 3rd position battles with Michele Alboreto ITA Tyrrell 011 Ford Cosworth

The golden years of Long Beach

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Long Beach had proved to be a popular venue with fans and drivers during its seven years as a host between 1976 and 1983. But financial disagreements finally put pay to its continuation leaving the less-than-perfect Detroit circuit as the only Grand Prix still running stateside after 1984 before that too was dumped in 1988. Las Vegas briefly hosted races in 1981 and 1982 bringing three races to the US for the 1982 season: Long Beach, Las Vegas, and the inaugural Detroit race.

The nine-year hiatus

In 1989, the action moved to Phoenix, Arizona for three years before Grand Prix racing in the US disappeared for nine years. When racing returned in 2000, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway seemed the perfect place to resurrect interest in the sport and the presence of 200,000 spectators at the first race weekend backed this up. The race continued to draw big crowds until the farcical events of 2005 when only six Bridgestone runners started after the Michelin-shod cars withdrew over safety concerns. The race lasted just two more years by which time crowds had halved.

A successful return

If Miami becomes the next breakthrough circuit, then the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is the one that got a foot back in the door. The purpose-built track has been hosting Grand Prix races since 2012 and is one of the most popular tracks amongst drivers. The event is also one of the best attended with crowds in excess of 100,000. Lewis Hamilton has won five of the eight races held in Austin so far and the seven-time World Champion is 20/27 favourite to win the Driver's Championship again here at Space Casino. But he faces a tough challenge from Max Verstappen, who is priced at 6/5 with the same sportsbook to steal his crown this year.

Max Verstappen NLD Red Bull Racing RB16B leads Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG F1 W12

A thrilling season expected

With Hamilton's domination of the sport facing a serious challenge, this could be the perfect time to bring the sport to Miami. The thought of the Brit and Verstappen battling it out on the streets of the Florida hot spot is already wetting the lips of fans who have been given a glimpse of what the circuit has in store.

The team behind F1 have worked relentlessly to make the Miami Grand Prix happen. It has been years in the making and has faced many legal and social hurdles along the way. That effort only highlights how important they feel the US market and the Miami Grand Prix is to the long-term sustainability of the sport.