MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Red Bull driver Mark Webber is looking forward to racing in Texas next year, describing the $300 million Formula One track as "sensational" while urging the sport to seize the opportunity to finally crack the United States market.
The inaugural race in Austin will be staged on Nov. 18, 2012, after organizers ended a contract dispute with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone last week to sign a 10-year deal.
"I think Austin will be a good addition," said Webber, who was third in the 2011 drivers' standings. "The track looks sensational, they have done a good job with the layout, a lot of undulation and sweeping, quick corners which is always challenging for us."
With a grand prix also slated for New Jersey in 2013 providing views of the Manhattan skyline, Webber said Formula One has the perfect opportunity to grow in the U.S.
"It's not a market that has been completely cracked but I think they will enthusiastic and they will be keen to have us there," the 35-year-old Australian driver said near Red Bull's headquarters in England. "Formula One needs to work a bit on softening and working a bit harder on education with a new audience."
The U.S. Grand Prix was dropped after an eight-year run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000-07 with mixed results. The most notable blemish occurred in 2005 when 14 of 20 drivers including Webber pulled off the track just before the race started as a protest over concerns about tire safety.
"Obviously Indianapolis didn't work out with the 2005 affair ... it has been challenging there," Webber said. "We are in for a good period in north America with two races. I think this is the best chance Formula One has ever had of doing a good job over there."
Webber's Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel will start his bid for a third straight F1 title at the Australian Grand Prix in March.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarrisUK