The United States hosts a Formula One race again this year, and two are scheduled for next year. While the US has a long history with F1, there are serious concerns about whether the modern series can find a sustained popularity in the American media market.
We asked the readers whether F1 will have staying power with American audiences. Here are the best opinions from each side of the debate.
This is Answers of the Day - where we feature the best responses from the previous day's "Question Of The Day". It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Today, we're mixing things up a bit by making it a point/counterpoint rather than just a top ten listicle.
Frame It And Display It And People Will Love It, by freds4hb
My F1 love knows no bounds, so I'm no test case, but the issue to me has always been TV presentation and marketing.
I know I couldn't get my wife near the screen till Fox's great NASCAR broadcasting hit the scene, with the explanations and the soap opera, she got it, got into it, and wanted to watch. While I love Varsha and the gang, the broadcast and broadcasting style are far too euro to bring in us Yanks. Till we get a proper U.S. style broadcast (buckets of stats, cutaway cars, relate-able /excitablee hosts that have a bit of everyman with classic play by play and true explanations with a real "pit road presence". Sadly we've become so accustomed to this format here that it's difficult for the everyday viewer to grasp the nuances from two guys trapped in a booth who are so steeped in what they're doing they're over every newbie's head from the word go. It's frustrating since I love the nuance Varsha and the gang bring, but if we want to bring it mainstream those steps will need to be taken first.
Next, we need a dog in the hunt, a driver, a manufacturer, a great sponsor link, leveraging marketing in a good way. Nissan, Mercedes, Ferrari, all sell well here, why are they not making a more concerted effort to make their F1 investment pay off for them here in the states? A complete business fail. Even RedBull hasn't leveraged their investment in F1 with marketing stateside. It's shocking. Is it a simple lack of translation, simply put, no, it's guys going fast in cars, what's more american? Hell with Bud's new Belgian owners, they're likely to skip the dollars here as well. The USGP should be such a win for everyone, and if it's not, it's the simple fault of the marketers involved failing to realize a win they've already paid for (Mercedes, I'm looking at you).
Now can we get Alexander Rossi a drive in proper frontrunning F1 car please!
See ya in Texas!
Nobody Watches A Boring Parade At 6AM, by jip1080
Unfortunately, despite being a fan myself, I've got to argue that no, Americans will not truly embrace F1. At least not in the sense of the NFL, NASCAR or other major sports within our boarders. The main issues I see are proximity, timing and spectacle.
Races are usually in far off locations rather than in our back yard. The race(s) we have had / will have seem to be viewed more as a one-off that is quickly forgotten. There are not many high profile sports in the US which spend the majority of their time away from the US, and if F1 isn't going to pander to the US market every time then the US likely won't fawn over F1 continuously. We're just too ADD to pay attention to something not thrust in our face all day Sunday and every Monday night.
Timing is another issue. The race schedule is very Euro-centric when it comes to what time practices, qualifying and races occur. 7am Eastern on a Sunday it'll be pretty difficult to capture a large audience. 2am Eastern Sunday is even worse. Compounding this issue is the removal of the Sunday afternoon replay Speed used to have (it's what, Wednesdays at noon or some BS like that now??). Yes DVRs can assist this, but you're not going to bring in many new folks who are just channel surfing looking for something to watch at 7am on a Sunday. Or worse, 4am for the Westies. The homebodies that are channel surfing at noon Wednesday? Probably the same story.
The last item I'd put out there (and this will likely be the most debated in the comments) is the spectacle. Yes there has been an increase in on-track passing over the last couple seasons, but there is not a lot of back-and-forth throughout the field. Especially with some of the tracks on the schedule you end up with a long, strung out line of cars parading around for an hour and a half. The cars just can't take a beating like a brick NASCAR can, at least not and still remain even a quarter competitive. Give Massa that STR Jeep and let him have at Hamilton! Now, I don't condone dangerous driving or hitting each other just for the spectacle of it all, but if a couple cars can't rub doors and survive (ala BTCC, NASCAR, McNish & AJ @ Daytona 24) the drivers end up being just too cautious (we'll ignore the draconian stewards for now...).
I'll add one more small item as an afterthought. Brand connection. It seems like most folks who are into NFL, NASCAR, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, whatever have the team / player / driver they love, and the team / player / driver they despise. There are big personalities all through the teams and players/drivers and people latch onto those. F1 has become almost a bit too sterile and corporate in that sense. Sure Sutil took a swing at a guy in a Chinese nightclub... but that's a rare exception. Bring back Hunt! Bring back EJ and the Jordan girls! Let Kimi fall off a boat drunk at EVERY race after crashing out! I want to hear Kimi call Alonso a **** for who knows what reason. I want to hear Jenson say "screw Ferrari, they're a bunch of corporate p***ies too worried about themselves" as he walks to his motorhome while grabbing Jessica Michibata's arse.
Conclusion: bring it here more, at a time we're awake, in an interesting fashion and with characters we love and hate. Otherwise it's just not going to take off.
I know the lot of you will have at me, go for it. Can't wait to read the various opinions!
Photo Credit: Getty Images