Good news, F1 fans. After five years of waiting, Formula 1 will return to the United States in 2012.
F1 World Championship Limited, F1 Administration Limited, and Full Throttle Productions announced today that the three entities have brokered a deal to hold the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. The new deal calls for the revived U.S. GP to start in 2012, and run through 2021 at the very least.
"We are extremely honored and proud to reach an agreement with the F1 Commercial Rights Holder," said Tavio Hellmund, managing partner of Full Throttle Productions. "We have been diligently working together for several years to bring this great event to Austin. All parties involved have a great amount of trust and confidence in each other and are committed to establishing the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas as a prestigious global event."
If you're having trouble coming up with the name of a decent track near Austin, there's good reason for that: There isn't one. Instead of opting to create a street course in downtown Austin, F1 will instead create an all-new track and facility for the GP. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone points out that this is "the first time a facility is constructed from the ground up specifically for F1 in the U.S." He's right. Although the Indianapolis course used between 1999 and 2007 was new, it was situated within the infield of the existing oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Along with the ability to create a track property from scratch, organizers reportedly chose Austin for its geographic location, transportation infrastructure, and vibrant culture. Better yet, there are some 250,000 hotel rooms and 130 daily international flights departing within 180 miles of the city center -- an important consideration when attempting to host the traveling circus that is Formula 1.
As much as we'd love to start booking travel and accommodations immediately, F1 organizers have yet to establish a finite date for the 2012 race. We wouldn't be too surprised to see the U.S. Grand Prix resume its traditional timeslot in June, possibly running either the week before or after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.