Michael Andretti, the USA’s most famous race driver, has played down reports Formula 1 could add the iconic Long Beach race to its own annual calendar.
Reports this month said that with Indycar’s contract expiring, Bernie Ecclestone and Formula 1 sponsor agency chief Zak Brown had expressed interest in snapping up the California street race.
More recently a fixture of American open wheel racing, the Long Beach event was actually devised for Formula 1 in the mid seventies, and the race ran until 1983.
Now, Ecclestone, Brown and race founder Chris Pook are reportedly in talks to bring Formula 1 back to Long Beach.
“I’m an advocate of Formula 1 buying the Long Beach GP,” Brown told Motorsport magazine this month, “and I’ve been having those conversations.”
However, Andretti – a former McLaren driver – doubts it will happen.
These days, as well as fielding a prominent Indycar team, Andretti’s company promotes races in Milwaukee, Toronto and Baltimore, and he told the Indianapolis Star there is “no way” Formula 1 is heading to Long Beach.
“Why would they sell it?” he wondered. “It runs along every year, making enough money. They have things in place; it works. I don’t think it’s a headache for them at all.”
Andretti also doubts Formula 1 has the appetite to spend the money necessary to bring the street circuit up to the sport’s higher standards.
“They’d have to spend $100 million to bring it up to where Formula 1 would want it,” he insisted. “No one would do that.”