Formula One to return to U.S. in Texas in 2012
Three years after Formula One left the U.S. market, the international auto-racing series plans to return to the United States in 2012 at a newly built circuit in Austin, Texas, Formula One announced Tuesday on its website.
"For the first time in the history of Formula One in the United States, a world-class facility will be purpose-built to host the event," Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement. Details of the agreement and proposed track layout were not immediately available.
Formula One reached the deal for Austin to host the race from 2012 through 2021 with the promoter Full Throttle Productions LP, whose managing partner Tavo Hellmund said they had been working "for several years" to bring the race to Texas.
The United States Grand Prix was held on a 2.6-mile road course constructed within the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for eight years. But the series and the track parted ways after the 2007 race, won by Lewis Hamilton of the McLaren Mercedes team, when they couldn't come to financial terms and other agreements to extend the contract.
At the time, Ecclestone was quoted as saying, "Let's see if we miss America." But many Formula One observers questioned how long the sport could stay out of the United States when the U.S. market is one of the main sources of sales for so many of the companies that support Formula One, including the auto manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz.
Formula One has a 19-race schedule this season, and the series' next race is Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey. Red Bull teammates Mark Webber, winner of the last two races in Monaco and Spain, and Sebastian Vettel are currently tied for the series championship.
--Jim PeltzPhoto: Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia leads the field on his way to winning the Monaco Grand Prix on May 16. Credit: Luca Bruno / Associated Press