Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein is surprised that ticket sales for the United States Grand Prix have not been helped by the addition of a Sprint race.
The race in Austin is one of six Sprint race weekends in the year, intended to bring further excitement with meaningful on-track running across all three days with Grand Prix qualifying on Friday, Sprint action on a Saturday before the main Grand Prix on Sunday.
Ticket sales for the US GP have seen a price increase year-over-year, with three-day grandstand tickets setting back spectators around $875.
Grand Prix racing has seen an explosive surge in popularity in the US, with the 2021 and 2022 Austin races attracting hundreds of thousands of fans, but Sprint races are polarising with Epstein pointing to this as a possible reason behind the number of ticket sales.
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"It didn't help," Epstein told select media including RacingNews365 of the addition of the Sprint race on ticket sales.
"It's a surprise. You have to decide, at what point are people coming for the event as much as they are for the sport?
"I think it still remains to be seen whether the Sprint race is something the fans are embracing or it's more controversial.
"You've got people that are proponents of it, people that are advocates and others that say I like it the way it was. So it's still an experiment at this point."
When asked if the dominance of Max Verstappen and Red Bull has impacted ticket sales, Epstein believes that it can be ruled out as one of the factors.
"Then why is Sunday still so strong?" he said when the idea was put to him.
"If it's the Max factor that affects the attendance I'd say: 'Well it passed that test, now I'm saying part two has got the same thing happening on Saturday.
"Saturday this year was a little bit less [attendance] than Saturday last year, and yet we have a Sprint race this year."
When asked if COTA will host any future Sprint races, Epstein said: "We'll work with F1 and let them decide on what's best, but we're happy for it to rotate around a little."