Formula 1 makes a strong statement at the United States Grand Prix
KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) – Formula 1 racing had an exciting weekend of speed at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX this past weekend. It was so good, in fact, that many F1 insiders are hoping the sport has now made significant gains with fans in the United States.
“The old adage is that America doesn’t need Formula 1, but Formula 1 needs America,” said Stuart Morrison. Morrison is the communications manager for the Uralkali Haas F1 Team, America’s only Formula 1 team.
The team’s headquarters are in Kannapolis on the same campus as the NASCAR Stewart-Haas team. Founded in 2014, the team made their debut in the 2016 F1 season and immediately made their presence felt.
“From day one there has been a lot of support,” said Stuart Morrison in an interview with WBTV. “Gene (Haas) brought in a pre-existing fan base. From an American perspective, it drew curious glances. The team has shown that the business model can work and deliver points. The team scored points in their first two races and finished 8th in the first year, 8th in the second year and 5th in the third year. A lot of new teams (since 2010) have folded back, never scored a points, but we’ve proven a lot of people wrong by showing that it can work.
Despite being based in the middle of the NASCAR country, the team has racked up its share of fans. Morrison gives Netflix Formula One: Drive To Survive a lot of credit for bringing new American fans to the sport. That point was made, he said, during the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.
“Netflix has brought a lot of new fans, American fans to Formula 1,” Morrison said. “The numbers were astronomical compared to previous years. “
Organizers estimated that as many as 400,000 fans filled the Austin area last weekend during the three-day period. While the NASCAR race in Kansas recorded higher TV ratings than the United States Grand Prix, the F1 race achieved its highest rating ever recorded in the United States with an estimated audience of 1.225 million.
Morrison said Austin is a great place for the sport and its fans because it’s a destination city with a lot to offer outside of the racetrack.
“We always love to come to America. We have 22-23 races a year, but a handful are in some really exciting cities, ”added Morrison. Austin is a destination city with restaurants, hotels, things to do… you want to go out, see friends, be kissed by the city. When the Grand Prix comes to town, it’s a bit like a festival for the weekend. It only amplified the atmosphere, it’s phenomenal.
The Haas team fans were evident in Austin. Morrison noted that they usually congregate at a location on the track that they have dubbed “Haas Hill” where they cheer on drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
“We handed out hats and scarves,” Morrison said. “We usually do a great team photo with the fans.”
Morrison mentioned going out to dinner Friday night in Austin and seeing fans wearing Haas shirts. “We are having an impact,” Morrison said. “We’re not the biggest, not the top performer, but based on fan mail, social media feedback, we’re here for the Americans who want to cheer on the American team.”
The 2021 season has been a struggle on the track for the team. On Sunday, the team did not score any points and occupy 10th place in the standings of the constructors’ championship. Morrison is convinced that 2022 will be a turning point for Haas F1.
“Every effort is put into the car for next year,” Morrison said. “We are on the right track for next year. Our novice pilots are learning this year to be more competitive next year. “
Morrison said that along with Gene Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner, he hopes the return to competitiveness in 2022 will coincide with the surge in popularity Formula 1 is currently enjoying in the United States.
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