So it might be a crazy idea that’s never going to happen, but a Formula One Grand Prix on the Indianapolis oval could be hugely beneficial for the sport and give fans a chance to embrace some extra variety.
GROWTH IN THE USA
The USA is the world largest consumer market with plenty of untapped commercial potential for Formula One. Bernie Ecclestone has long wanted a second race in the states and has recently toyed with ideas in New Jersey, Las Vegas, and Long Beach. With plans for a second race stalling, perhaps Formula One would be better off going back to Indianapolis, the spiritual home of US motorsport, and doing something distinctly American. Why not an F1 oval race?
Not only would a Grand Prix on the Indy oval instantly give Formula One a larger footprint in the USA, it would also generate extra hype in a crucial market and would attract new fans to the sport. The USA is the home of oval racing, and Indianapolis is the most famous superspeedway of them all, so it would be the perfect place to build something new to help grow the sport stateside. The current US Grand Prix organisers in Texas would surely prefer that to competition from another road course.
Some fans will argue that Formula One cars don’t belong on oval circuits, and whilst that might be a valid point, it hasn’t always been the case. Grand Prix cars used to race on ovals in the pre-war days and some of the venues, such as Brooklands and Avus, were immensely popular. Other more recent circuits like Reims or the original pre-chicane Hockenheim weren’t that far off being ovals anyway so fast and simple circuits have always featured in F1 history.
Additionally, purists could seek comfort in the fact that a race at Indianapolis would be a nice historical throwback to the 1950s when the Indy 500 counted towards the World Championship.
EXCITING FOR FANS
Even if some F1 fans can’t bring themselves to watch an oval Grand Prix, one race out of twenty isn’t going to ruin the whole sport for them. For the rest of us it introduces an exciting element of variety. It would be fascinating to see how drivers and teams adapted to the technical demands of an oval. Strategy and racecraft would be completely different and it would certainly shake up the pecking order. It’s hard to imagine Mercedes pulling away from a tight pack of slipstreaming drivers.
It’s an experiment that might not work but at least it’d be a huge talking point and would be way better for F1 than another dull street circuit. In the era of generic Tilkedrome racetracks and Mercedes domination, wouldn’t some extra variety be great?