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Rumors spreading about Formula 1 coming to Chicago

Rumors swirled Monday that Formula 1 Racing had reached a deal to launch a Chicago Grand Prix after months of speculation.

The rumors started with a Fastest Pitstop report indicated a contract had been signed for a 2026 event, however the initial tweet with that report was ultimately deleted Monday.

ESPN F1 reporter Nate Saunders said reports of the race being confirmed “are wide of the mark” and there are “no plans within F1 to expand to four U.S. race at the moment.”

There has been speculation for months about the potential for a Chicago race, however.

Formula 1 filed trademark applications for “Grand Prix of Chicago” and similar names on Jan. 19, according to U.S. patent and trademark office records.

While this could mean the franchise is considering a Chicago track, city officials told the Sun-Times in February that a race downtown was unlikely and indicated that initial talks between F1 and the city have already been held.

“I’m told that F1 typically requires a 10-year minimum deal,” Brian Hopkins, alderman for the second ward, said. And that appears to be non-negotiable. The conversation [with the city] did not get much past that.”

The city currently has a three-year deal with NASCAR for downtown street races, and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he doesn’t think Chicago could handle F1 in addition to that contract.

“It would have to be one or the other,” Reilly said.

Hopkins agreed that building out the track would be harder than it seems.

“What we did with NASCAR, welding manhole covers and smoothing over potholes and calling it a track — that doesn’t work with F1,” Hopkins said. “More complicated, thus higher price tag.”

F1 has increased its presence in the United States in recent years, introducing the Miami Grand Prix in 2022 and the Las Vegas Grand Prix the following year to build off success of the Netflix docuseries, “Drive to Survive.”