F1 US GP could reach 500,000 attendees next year, says COTA boss

The Circuit of the Americas welcomed a crowd of 440,000 over three days for the United States Grand Prix, making it a new race weekend record for F1.

COTA built a series of new grandstands to accommodate an additional 40,000 fans compared to the race in 2021, as well as increasing its transit options to help people get to the track.

He has set the 500,000 mark in the sights of the Austin race for the future, and track boss Epstein believes it could be reached as early as next year, provided the fan experience isn’t watered down.

“We can get there,” Epstein said when asked by Autosport about the chances of reaching half a million fans.

“We are testing our bus system this year. It is much more robust. You go from 300 buses to 600, and if that works and the loading times are possible, then this is really the litmus test for it.

“We have to convert to public transportation, and if that works, then we can grow.

“So it could be next year.”

COTA quickly sold out the additional tickets it put up for sale for this year’s race, while the general admission areas around the track were packed with fans, especially on the hill at Turn 1.

Epstein said there was already a demand for tickets to reach 500,000, but said the most important thing was to ensure the fan experience was the best it could be.

COTA continued its tradition of hosting concerts during this year’s race weekend, as Ed Sheeran, Green Day and Interpol performed on the circuit.

Steps were also taken to improve things like food and drink offerings for fans at the track as part of enhancing their race weekend experience.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar/Motorsport Images

“I don’t think it should necessarily be about getting to 500k, but carefully growing to make sure we can still handle the crowd,” Epstein said.

“This is what we do. We don’t drive the cars, we have nothing to do with the quality of the racing. All we can do is worry about your parking, your food, your restrooms and your fun and entertainment. we focus”.

It looks like next year’s United States Grand Prix will feature an American driver on the grid for the first time since 2015, as Williams plans to sign Logan Sargeant, pending his FIA superlicence.

Epstein felt that having an American driver on the grid now was “more significant now than it would have been a few years ago” given the growth of F1 in the United States.

“It is much more valuable now than it was. If you were to ask me that even three or four years ago, I’d say it would be nice to have him, but now it’s going to be great, great for him,” she said.

“The biggest launch step is whether we can get an American in the front row, as there is a time limit when people will pay attention to an American with the options we have. You want to see winners.”

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