Logan Sargeant is the first American to race full time in Formula One since 2007, albeit he has underperformed to start his career. Have you noticed that he has joined the series? And should F1 management change its marketing around him?
Mark Kristl: Even though I write for the site, I did not realize Logan Sargeant joined the series. I know four F1 drivers: recently retired Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Admittedly, I’m not a major F1 aficionado. But F1 doesn’t need to change its marketing even though Sargeant is an American in a global series. If the series continues to grow via Drive to Survive, its TV deal, American races, etc., then clearly it’s marketing itself well, especially when competing with NASCAR, IndyCar and local grassroots racing in America.
Jeffrey Boswell: I did notice that Sargeant was in Formula 1. It’s hard not to, because you pretty much always know where you’ll find him. And speaking of “notice,” Sargeant may be getting his from Williams F1 unless he can make a dramatic turnaround. F1 should not change its marketing scheme in regards to Sargeant. It’s good to have an American in F1, and while Sargeant is struggling, it’s too early to write him off as the great American hope in F1. Sadly, Williams probably won’t have the patience to wait.
Mike Neff: Eh, driver promotion should be in the hands of the teams and the driver PR. When the series comes to the home country of given drivers, it can certainly increase exposure for the drivers from that country. The drivers are their best promoters by achieving results. He isn’t going to win, but he can have solid runs and that will get his name and face out in front of fans.
Anthony Damcott: I was aware that Sargeant had joined Formula One as there seemed to be quite a bit of hype around the American entering 2023. However, F1 management isn’t obligated to change its marketing around one driver, especially since F1’s bread and butter is traveling all over the world. If American media outlets want to change their marketing around Sargeant, that’s more understandable. Likewise, F1 should promote Sargeant when the series comes to the United States. Otherwise, it’s on driver and team PR to market Sargeant.
Should IndyCar focus on adding more ovals or more international races to its schedule?
Neff: The whole premise of the IRL when it split with CART was to be oval-centric. It got away from that and really needs to get back to it. IndyCar is a North American series and should focus on continuing to build that audience before it chases the international crowd.
Boswell: IndyCar should prioritize international expansion, and focus particularly on a circuit or circuits in the European market. Sure, it’s bold to try and encroach on F1 territory, but IndyCar’s mindset should be “go big or stay home.”
Kristl: The series has maintained good schedule diversity. The Detroit street course race was moved to a different location in the city, there is a race weekend in conjunction with NASCAR and the series remains committed to Iowa Speedway, whereas NASCAR national series don’t go there anymore. IndyCar ought to build upon that. It’d be neat for the series to return to Richmond Raceway, a track it never visited after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the 2020 schedule. Also, Phoenix Raceway has a neat layout, different from the last time the series visited there. So it certainly should maintain its foothold as the premier open wheel racing series in America.
Damcott: There’s no reason it can’t work on both at the same time. The simple solution is to start with the second Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix race in the fall. Indy is the only track that has more than one race, and that’s even excluding the 500. That date could easily be given to an international track. Perhaps it could start small, like going down south to Autodromos Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, before going overseas. The last time the series went overseas was 2011, so it’ll take some time before IndyCar leaves the North American continent again. Likewise, the series needs more oval races to create a nice mix of oval, street and road courses. A return to Richmond Raceway seems warranted after COVID prevented that from happening, and other tracks like Phoenix Raceway and even New Hampshire Motor Speedway could make a comeback.
Are there too many or too few North American dates on the F1 calendar?
Damcott: I think five is a little too many, and that’s solely based on the idea of having three US races. For a series that prides itself on racing all over the world, three races in the US seems a little bit of saturation. Two seems to be a good limit for races in one country, so ideally three or four races throughout North America in one season would be a good number.
Kristl: While I cannot speak on behalf of Canadian or Mexican race fans, I’m not sold on the notion that F1 racecars will attract American race fans. Add in the global teams, so race fans cannot venture to those teams’ shops for enjoyment, and while F1 remains a growing entity, it is not one on the trajectory of overtaking stock car racing or IndyCar. Depending on the ratings, either leave it as the same amount or decrease the number.
Neff: North America has a large area of F1 fans. The land mass is larger than Europe or the Middle East and they have more or the same amount of races. North America is more focused on the automobile than most of the rest of the world. It only makes sense to put the premier racing series in as many places as possible in that area.
Boswell: Five races in North America is the perfect number, and three in the United States is also ideal. But does it have to be the same three every year? The Circuit of The Americas should always be on the schedule, because the track is unique and the setting in Austin provides for the ultimate fan experience. Las Vegas will make its debut on the schedule in November. It’s the gambling mecca of the world; there should always be a spot on the schedule for it. The Miami GP’s date on the calendar could be swapped for another site where the actual racing takes priority over pageantry, which seems to be all Miami offers. Maybe F1 can make a return to Watkins Glen for the first time since 1980.
At 17 races, is there too many or too few IndyCar races in general?
Boswell: The IndyCar schedule has a sensible early March to early September duration, with most of the back-to-back weekend races occurring late in the season. The early September finale means the IndyCar schedule doesn’t clash with the NFL season; the NASCAR season runs from early February to early November (grueling for everyone involved), well into the NFL season, and when given the choice, most viewers choose the NFL.
Damcott: I think it’s a good enough schedule, though I wouldn’t be opposed to an expansion by maybe a race or two. The early start and end date of the season gets more eyes on the sport and doesn’t interfere with NASCAR or F1’s championship seasons. So if 17 races is the permanent future of IndyCar’s schedule to keep the season compact, I’m all for that too.
Neff: A total of 22 to 24 races would be an ideal schedule. Sprinkle in some off weekends and you can still avoid the meat of football season. IndyCar has momentum building and needs to take advantage of that while it is there.
Kristl: I really like the ARCA Menards Series schedule of 20 races. That’s not quite a race every other week of the 52-week calendar, but it’s enough to build momentum without overtaxing teams, personnel or the TV crews. IndyCar has not held 20 races in a season this millennium, but if the series could add at least one more race to its schedule, especially as it hints at adding more oval racetracks, I think an even 18, or at most 20 races, in a season is the right amount.
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