Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Adam Macdonald.
With another Grand Prix ticked off the list and stomach full of BBQ food I’m about to say goodbye to Austin. The Formula One circus has well and truly left town as the city returns to a relatively normal state. The sport has come and put its stamp all over the city as the locals have welcomed it.
I don’t need to tell you how great it was to be at the race and rest of the weekend. One extremely positive aspect of the circuit is the elevation changes, allowing for great views from grandstands and general admission spaces alike. Another, which many will disagree with was having Pitbull for the after race concert. This helped the race appeal to younger fans which can only be a good thing. However, there is still significant room for improvement to change the viewing experience itself.
While the American population have attended in their masses, there is still a large misunderstanding of the sport in general. One example of this was when Vettel overtook the one of the Caterham cars under blue flags. The applause at turn 1 was widespread as I could only chuckle to myself. It struck me that the solution to this is so simple; COTA radio could be there to explain to everyone what is going on.
It could be started up so easily, as there is already a commentary team for the race. It could also be self funding with the addition of advertising so no economic downside to having it. If F1 wants to make the USA its home, then making sure people understand the race is essential. Hopefully the Circuit of the Americas staff address this before the Mexican GP happens and takes away a high proportion of the audience.
With a high proportion of the fans there being Mexican or from other parts of Latin America, one has to wonder whether the audiences will return to Austin when the Mexico City race eventually does get the green light. The COTA organizers will have taken a sigh of relief at the lack of progress over the border. With a great facility built, the hard work has been done which leaves engaging the fans as the only remaining challenge.
Another piece of good news for the Austin GP and the city in general is the announcement that British Airways will be starting to run direct flights from Heathrow. The service will start in March and is expected to increase the number of Brits who make the journey over the Atlantic to watch the race.
A final point I found interesting was TJ alluding to the report stating the need to get F1 fans to spend more money in Austin. Again, I feel the answer is so simple to keep the dollars flowing into the Texan town. When I went to the Melbourne GP back in 2011, the race coincided with the start of the AFL season (Australian Football) as well as the super 15 game. I went to both of these as they weren’t scheduled at the same time as the F1. By scheduling the UT Football game (University of Texas American Football) game at the same time as qualifying it excluded any of those fans who wanted to go along.
If they want people to spend more money then the answer is simple. Keep the fans in the place and they will continue to pour money into the local economy. More cooperation is needed with the local government to put events on. Especially given Austin has such a big reputation for being an important music scene with live music readily available. The picture below shows where the Austin Fest used to be, a mere 24 hours on from the race. The F1 buzz has come and gone far too quickly…