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Formula One heads to the US of A

Formula One heads to the US of A

We take a look at the United States Grand Prix’s topsy-turvy history as the drivers take to the grid, live on Sky Sports F1®

If you fancy reading about one of sport’s most hot and cold love affairs in recent times, read on below…

Formula 1 Emirates United States Grand Prix 2019, Sunday 3 November, 7.10pm, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)

Though the current iteration of the US Grand Prix held at the Circuit of the Americas is a certified success after seven cracking events, the country’s history with F1 has, to say the least, blown hot, cold, hot again, then mostly cold, then hot again.


We’ve seen eight different venues over 40-something years. They’ve ranged from brilliant (but dangerous), to sublime (but still dangerous), to terrible (really dangerous), to bonkers (yep, still dangerous), to downright “what were they thinking?” It’s a strange, twisting tale, beginning way back in the 1960s…


1961-1980: Watkins Glen (United States Grand Prix)

Formula One driver Jim Clark at Watkins Glen

Ahh, Watkins Glen. This twisting, undulating river of tarmac near New York was a favourite among drivers… until the tournament’s increasingly fast cars revealed its stark shortcomings in regards to safety standards.


1976-1983: Long Beach (United States West Grand Prix)

Long Beach, branded the “Western” edition of the US Grand Prix, was a street race that, though gruelling, was considered the country’s answer to Monaco… until rising costs drove the venue managers to stop hosting Formula One races.


1981-1982: Caesars Palace Grand Prix

Formula One driver Nelson Piquet

A race that literally saw cars bomb their way round the titular hotel and casino, Bernie Ecclestone eventually scrapped it due to astronomical costs and dismal crowds, though it did see Nelson Piquet clinch his first title.


1982-1988: Detroit Grand Prix

“Put your hands up for Dee-troit,” Bernie Ecclestone said to team bosses in 1982. “Lower your hands for Dee-troit,” he then said in 1989 when searing heat, a terrible track surface and a general lack of excitement led to it being axed after seven unpopular races.


1984: Dallas Grand Prix

As well as being the name of our favourite American soap opera, Dallas is also known for hosting a one-off F1 race in 1984. Much like Detroit, the drivers wrestled their way through tight turns for hours in ridiculous temperatures, before Keke Rosberg (father of Nico) eventually took the chequered flag.


1989-1991: Phoenix (United States Grand Prix)

Formula One driver Aytron Senna

In stark contrast to some of the above examples, Phoenix was a relative success. Ayrton Senna excelled at the circuit – winning two of the three races held there – only for it to be cancelled ahead of the 1992 season.


2000-2007: Indianapolis (United States Grand Prix)

Formula One cars on the grid in Indianapolis at the 2006 United States Grand Prix

This had the makings of a classic; IndyCar’s legendary pantheon of speed hosting the world’s premier motor racing series… until the 2005 Grand Prix, where, with Michelin tyres failing on the track’s banked final turn, only six cars started the race. It hosted two more races, but never really recovered.


2012-present: Texas (United States Grand Prix)

Then, shining on the horizon, came a hugely expensive, all-new circuit in the spiritual home of NASCAR. Packed with breathtaking elevation changes and corners, and sections inspired by some of the sport’s most legendary tracks, it’s been a rip-roaring success.


Click/hover on the dots below to find out more about why the Circuit of the Americas is so revered. 



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