Circuit of the Americas owner Bobby Epstein expects to continue hosting the U.S. Grand Prix beyond its current deal despite the imminent arrival of a Miami street race.
The Austin circuit has hosted F1 since 2012 but next year looks likely to share a space on the calendar with another U.S. race as Miami is currently negotiating the terms of a ten-year deal. COTA's current deal runs until 2021 and despite some challenges in previous years it has become one of the most popular race weekends on the calendar.
Epstein is confident the race has a long-term future.
"I think it's mutual expectation that we want to keep going," Epstein told ESPN. "Lewis [Hamilton] called it his favourite track in the world. It was made for F1.
"It was always a vision of both parties to have a lasting home base for Formula One in the U.S. so it would be a disappointment all around if it didn't continue. Certainly the terms of the contract are going to decide that."
"Well we're still trying to deal with a Bernie Ecclestone contract which has its own nuances and challenges. We're both -- F1 management and COTA -- trying to sort through some of those contract challenges that come from accelerators. The hope of a customer is always that the price of a product becomes less expensive as time goes on."
A Miami race would likely join the calendar around the same time as the current U.S./Mexico double header. Previously Epstein has voiced his concern at COTA hosting its race so close to Mexico as he feels it splits the fan base.
However, he is confident COTA's event can coexist with Miami's race.
"Miami comes with it's own big challenges the first couple of years, just as we saw with Mexico the first couple of years. You really have competition for the F1 fan. They're very different experience and different events. The Miami will make for great backdrops and TV and accomplish a lot of those goals.
"Within the time we've had to be able to try and create an all-around weekend fan experience, Austin has some experience in that the town is big enough to allow for a great fan experience both on and off the track but it's small enough for people to embrace F1 when they come here and really take over the city. So I think it's a different experience in Miami but I think they both can successfully co-exist together. The first couple of years will put real pressure on us to up our game."
With the race in Miami part of Liberty Media's push to increase F1's popularity in America, Epstein appreciates that any short-term pain should be mitigated by a larger fanbase in the States long-term.
"It's not just [problematic for] fans, it's also the sponsors and people that would activate that at two events. There's not necessarily time for both to share the same part of the calendar. Logistically for F1 it's completely understandable. For the promoter it's less desirable... less than desirable, in fact!
"Sometimes competition is a really good thing and sometimes it can be painful. But as the F1 audience grows in the U.S. it will matter a lot less."