• MSN exclusives
16/11/2012 08:42 | By Sarah Holt

F1 must open up to conquer America, says Alexander Rossi



As F1 returns to the United States, American driver Alexander Rossi tells Sarah Holt that the sport needs to lose some of its elite sheen if it's to win over Stateside fans.

Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (© Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)

Plugged in: Caterham's Alexander Rossi knows F1 needs to change if it is to broaden its appeal to American fans

Formula 1 is facing one of its biggest challenges this weekend as it returns to the United States, according to American racer Alexander Rossi.

After a five-year absence, the US Grand Prix is back at a new $400m circuit built just outside Austin, Texas.

But Caterham’s reserve driver says having a race on US soil is only the first step towards reconnecting with the audience it abandoned in 2007.

“Americans are already a bit skeptical about Formula 1,” Rossi - the only American driver in the paddock - told MSN.

“They are massively patriotic and there is nothing American about F1. Not only was there no American race, there are no American cars or drivers.

“Part of what makes F1 so special is the exclusivity but that is the one thing that repels Americans the most."

“It’s very European and Americans are not really that interested in that.”

Despite producing two F1 world champions in Phil Hill (1961) and Mario Andretti (1978), American racers have struggled sustain a presence in F1, whose teams all operate from European headquarters.

Scott Speed was the last American to race in F1 but it has now been five years since the Californian lost his place at Toro Rosso to Germany’s future world champion Sebastian Vettel.

“F1 doesn’t have America and first of all to get America you need a race, but second of all you need a driver,” added Rossi, who is targeting a race seat in 2014.

“It’s a very important step that needs to happen to captivate America again.”

Another of F1’s biggest obstacle to achieving mass appeal on US soil is the dominance of the domestic Nascar and IndyCar series.

As F1’s 2009 world champion Jenson Button pointed out, the timing of the 2012 US GP couldn’t be worse for F1’s hopes of converting some stockcar-racing fans to F1 as Nascar is also staging its season-finale in Miami this weekend.

“It’s a tough one as this is the biggest weekend for motorsport in the US,” the McLaren driver commented. “So it’s probably not the best weekend for us to be racing here.”

Circuit of the Americas (© Getty Images)

New home: the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas

And in the long-term, Rossi is doubtful that F1 can compete with Nascar for its share of the US television audience.

“I don't think it ever will,” Rossi said. “Not until there is an American manufacturer in F1 that people can go and get excited about.  

“How many people really have the ability to drive a Ferrari? Not a lot. It's something they don't really have a relationship to.”

But Rossi believes F1 could learn lessons from Nascar and IndyCar to help it gain ground on the domestic series.

The dilemma for F1, however, is that applying those lessons would mean a fundamental change in its philosophy.

“What F1 as a brand needs to do to appeal to America then taints what F1 is,” said Rossi.

“Part of what makes F1 so special is the exclusivity and the mystery but at the same time that is the one thing that repels Americans the most.

“In Nascar and Indycar you can go into the paddock and the drivers are more human, they’re more approachable.

“Americans quite like to feel that they can be close to the people that they’re supporting but in F1 it’s very much an exclusive sport and the drivers are very much on a pedestal.

“While that needs to remain the same there needs to be some way to incorporate the fans, to give them a big bigger glimpse of what F1 is.”

“The F1 fan base in America is actually quite strong but it’s been stifled."

Despite the challenges facing F1, organisers of the Austin race at the Circuit of the Americas expect Sunday’s GP to be watched by a sell-out crowd of 120,000.

There has been genuine excitement in Austin about bringing F1 back to the US and pride throughout the state of Texas – even though some locals are uncertain about the nuances of the sport.

“The F1 fan base in America is actually quite strong but it’s been stifled because there hasn’t been an American race,” said Rossi.

“The passion for it is there but now it's about reactivating that again.”

--

Follow @SarahHoltF1 and tell us what you think F1 needs to do to conquer America.

9Comments
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
10 reasons to make MSN UK your homepage (© Microsoft)

latest sport news

  • Christian Horner has given his backing to Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes team orders row

    Lewis Hamilton has found a surprise ally following the team orders controversy that unfolded during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

  • Caterham face a legal battle with a number of former employees

    Caterham have taken legal action of their own against a number of former employees, citing a "gross misrepresentation of the facts" in the claim against the Leafield-based marque.

  • Second is not good enough for Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci

    Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has demanded no one in his team shuts down mentally during Formula One's summer break.

  • Italy international fly-half Kris Burton, right, has left Newport Gwent Dragons

    Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed the departure of Italy international fly-half Kris Burton from Rodney Parade.

  • South Africa were victorious at Ibrox

    New Zealand's incredible 30-game unbeaten streak at the Commonwealth Games was brought to a crashing halt as South Africa claimed a surprise gold medal success.

  • Fans have thronged to Ibrox for two days of rugby sevens competition at the Commonwealth Games.

    "The crowd loves us because we are the last kings of Scotland," grandly proclaimed Ugandan head coach Tolbert Onyango as the Ibrox stands tumbled with chants of support for his intrepid Rugby Cranes.

  • Stuart Broad claimed three wickets for 65 runs on day three against India

    Stuart Broad senses a new beginning is under way for him and his England team-mates as they finally free themselves from the hangover of last winter's Ashes whitewash.

  • James Anderson celebrates taking the scalp of Ravindra Jadeja, left, one of the bowler's three wickets

    England's bowlers were granted just reward, and a little more from occasionally compliant India, for much hard work as the hosts stayed on course for a shot at victory in the third Investec Test.

  • Yorkshire have terminated the contract of young bowler Oliver Robinson

    Yorkshire bowler Oliver Robinson has had his contract cancelled by the LV= County Championship leaders due to "a number of unprofessional actions".

F1 must open up to conquer America, says Alexander RossiAmerican driver speaks exclusively to MSN UK Sport as F1 returns to the United States.Sarah Holt2012-11-16T08:42:23As F1 returns to the United States, American driver Alexander Rossi tells Sarah Holt that the sport needs to lose some of its elite sheen if it's to win over Stateside fans.Plugged in: Caterham's Alexander Rossi knows F1 needs to change if it is to broaden its appeal to American fans Formula 1 is facing one of its biggest challenges this weekend as it returns to the United States, according to American racer Alexander Rossi.After a five-year absence, the US Grand Prix is back at a new $400m circuit built just outside Austin, Texas.But Caterham’s reserve driver says having a race on US soil is only the first step towards reconnecting with the audience it abandoned in 2007.“Americans are already a bit skeptical about Formula 1,” Rossi - the only American driver in the paddock - told MSN.“They are massively patriotic and there is nothing American about F1. Not only was there no American race, there are no American cars or drivers.“Part of what makes F1 so special is the exclusivity but that is the one thing that repels Americans the most."“It’s very European and Americans are not really that interested in that.”Despite producing two F1 world champions in Phil Hill (1961) and Mario Andretti (1978), American racers have struggled sustain a presence in F1, whose teams all operate from European headquarters.Scott Speed was the last American to race in F1 but it has now been five years since the Californian lost his place at Toro Rosso to Germany’s future world champion Sebastian Vettel.“F1 doesn’t have America and first of all to get America you need a race, but second of all you need a driver,” added Rossi, who is targeting a race seat in 2014.“It’s a very important step that needs to happen to captivate America again.”Another of F1’s biggest obstacle to achieving mass appeal on US soil is the dominance of the domestic Nascar and IndyCar series.As F1’s 2009 world champion Jenson Button pointed out, the timing of the 2012 US GP couldn’t be worse for F1’s hopes of converting some stockcar-racing fans to F1 as Nascar is also staging its season-finale in Miami this weekend.“It’s a tough one as this is the biggest weekend for motorsport in the US,” the McLaren driver commented. “So it’s probably not the best weekend for us to be racing here.”New home: the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TexasAnd in the long-term, Rossi is doubtful that F1 can compete with Nascar for its share of the US television audience.“I don't think it ever will,” Rossi said. “Not until there is an American manufacturer in F1 that people can go and get excited about.  “How many people really have the ability to drive a Ferrari? Not a lot. It's something they don't really have a relationship to.”But Rossi believes F1 could learn lessons from Nascar and IndyCar to help it gain ground on the domestic series.The dilemma for F1, however, is that applying those lessons would mean a fundamental change in its philosophy.“What F1 as a brand needs to do to appeal to America then taints what F1 is,” said Rossi.“Part of what makes F1 so special is the exclusivity and the mystery but at the same time that is the one thing that repels Americans the most.“In Nascar and Indycar you can go into the paddock and the drivers are more human, they’re more approachable.“Americans quite like to feel that they can be close to the people that they’re supporting but in F1 it’s very much an exclusive sport and the drivers are very much on a pedestal.“While that needs to remain the same there needs to be some way to incorporate the fans, to give them a big bigger glimpse of what F1 is.”“The F1 fan base in America is actually quite strong but it’s been stifled."Despite the challenges facing F1, organisers of the Austin race at the Circuit of the Americas expect Sunday’s GP to be watched by a sell-out crowd of 120,000.There has been genuine excitement in Austin about bringing F1 back to the US and pride throughout the state of Texas – even though some locals are uncertain about the nuances of the sport.“The F1 fan base in America is actually quite strong but it’s been stifled because there hasn’t been an American race,” said Rossi.“The passion for it is there but now it's about reactivating that again.”--Follow @SarahHoltF1 and tell us what you think F1 needs to do to conquer America.Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Alexander Rossi - MSN exclusive (Glenn Dunbar CaterhamF1.com)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)Circuit of the Americas (Getty Images)