Andretti doubts F1 will head back to Long Beach

(L to R): Mario Andretti (USA) gets a wave from Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 on the grid.Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, 18 November 2012.
Mario Andretti

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.”