Caterham test driver Alexander Rossi has urged F1 to do more in America ahead of F1′s return to the country.
After an absence of five seasons, the sport returns to the Unied States for the penultimate round of the 2012 season. But Rossi believes F1 has a long way to go to capture the American audience.
“Americans are already a bit sceptical about Formula 1″, Rossi told MSN.
“They are massively patriotic and there is nothing American about F1. Not only was there no American race, there are no American cars or drivers”.
“It’s very European and Americans are not really that interested in that”.
Rossi is the only American driver in F1, having taken part in practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
“F1 doesn’t have America and first of all to get America you need a race, but second of all you need a driver. It’s a very important step that needs to happen to captivate America again”.
Jenson Button pointed out that F1 has chosen a bad weekend to return to the USA, as the NASCAR season draws to a close at the same time as the F1 race takes place. Rossi believes F1 will never rival NASCAR in terms of popularity in the country.
“I don’t think it ever will. Not until there is an American manufacturer in F1 that people can go and get excited about. How many people really have the ability to drive a Ferrari? Not a lot. It’s something they don’t really have a relationship to”.
“What F1 as a brand needs to do to appeal to America then taints what F1 is”.
“Part of what makes F1 so special is the exclusivity and the mystery but at the same time that is the one thing that repels Americans the most. In NASCAR and Indycar you can go into the paddock and the drivers are more human, they’re more approachable. Americans quite like to feel that they can be close to the people that they’re supporting but in F1 it’s very much an exclusive sport and the drivers are very much on a pedestal. While that needs to remain the same there needs to be some way to incorporate the fans, to give them a big bigger glimpse of what F1 is”.