F1 is currently enjoying popularity in the United States, with three American races announced on the calendar for 2023 as Las Vegas joins Austin and Miami.
But it’s been more than 15 years since an American last raced full-time in F1. A recent push by Red Bull to secure IndyCar driver Colton Herta an AlphaTauri seat for next year fell through because the FIA was unwilling to grant him an exemption for a superlicence.
McLaren Racing CEO Brown said that while the addition of an American driver and a US-based team to the grid would be great for F1, he felt they were not essential to the series’ popularity in the United States, as evidenced by the current its success.
“I think it’s going to be great for both of them to happen, it’s going to make Formula 1 better here,” Brown said at Laguna Seca earlier this month.
“But we don’t have either now, and look how popular Formula 1 is now in America.
“So I’d like to see it happen, but I don’t think it has to happen. Because Formula 1 is hot now without it.”
Fans watch under the cover of Hard Rock Stadium
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The decision to deny Herta a superlicence despite his IndyCar track record led to criticism of the FIA system from many in American racing circles.
Alexander Rossi, who made five F1 appearances for Manor in 2015, said the “greed” of previous superlicence eligibility decisions had cost Herta his rightful chance to move to F1.
Brown himself pointed out the need for reform, noting that current world champion Max Verstappen and 2007 title winner Kimi Raikkonen were both denied F1 graduation by the existing system.
At the same time Herta is trying to move, his IndyCar team, Andretti, is working hard to get a new entry on the F1 grid in the future, only to face opposition from many of the existing teams.
McLaren was always in favor of adding Andretti to the grid, but Brown felt that many of the other teams were “very short-sighted, and only thinking about what was in their best interest in the short term.”
Brown added: “We think a little differently. I think someone like Andretti can help grow the sport. What we might lose in the short term by sharing prize money will come back to us with more TV ratings, more sponsorship from North America, etc.
“It’s a small number of teams trying to protect their own profits and not seeing the bigger picture.”