Lewis Hamilton has hailed the progress Formula 1 has made in the United States in recent years.
This weekend the sport will race around the famous Las Vegas strip for the third Grand Prix staged in the US this year.
F1’s popularity in the US has skyrocketed in recent years with Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries a factor in the increased engagement.
The US once struggled with an F1 audience, with no races held in the country from 2007 to 2011.
The sport’s reputation in the country took a hit after the infamous 2005 US Grand Prix that saw just six cars start the race due to concerns over the Michelin tyres.
With F1 now seemingly having a stable hold on the US, Hamilton provided his idea to ensure that it doesn’t slip from its grasp again.
“I think it’s [about] continuing to engage with the outside world and, and as I was mentioned before, really creating more accessibility,” Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.com.
“I think before, when I used to come out to the States, like 2007, the first time out here, and for many, many years, every time we stepped for that one race, that sometimes did and sometimes didn’t happen in the years, you always find yourself just repeating yourself, educating.
“I couldn’t fully understand when I went to NFL games, NBA games, seeing how passionate the Americans are about sport, how they hadn’t yet caught the bug that many of us grew up catching when we were younger.
“And so it’s been really, really amazing to see that so many, the whole country, really, a large portion of the country is now speaking about it. People own simulators, everyone wants to be a driver! So, it’s been great to see.”
‘Close racing key for fans’
Hamilton added that F1 must ensure there is close competition at the front of the field to continue engagement amid Red Bull’s dominant campaign.
“I think we have to continue to look at what is next. Having the three races out here in such a huge nation, I think is massively helpful,” he said.
“Within our sport, we have to continue to work on making sure we’re having close racing, because I think you’ve seen the social engagement drop a huge amount this year. So, it’s obviously heavily impacted on competition.
“People want to see that. So, we have to make sure that we’re making the right decisions, or the governing body is making the right decisions, to keep us close and great racing right to the end. We need to have more grandstands.
“I don’t know whether we need to lower the cost but maybe, I don’t know. And then just looking in these different places, making sure that when we go into these different countries, we’re working also on the impact, not just a circus that arrives and leaves a mess behind.
“But looking at how we can really leave a legacy behind in each of these places that we go to.”