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Feels like America has accepted Formula One, says Hamilton

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton needed to accept second however Formula One’s most profitable driver mentioned Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin nonetheless felt like a breakthrough for his sport.

The race day crowd of 140,000 on the Circuit of the Americas surpassed the 135,000 who attended the Indianapolis 500 in May, then the most important sporting occasion in America for the reason that begin of the pandemic.

The three-day crowd determine for the race in Texas was given as 400,000.

“It feels like this is our acceptance into the U.S.,” Hamilton, a five-times winner in Austin, mentioned as he surveyed the scenes after the race.

“I hope we get more races out here and I hope that the sport continues to grow because you can tell just how great the fans are out here.”

There was no race in Austin final 12 months as a result of COVID-19 pandemic however Formula One may have two U.S. rounds subsequent 12 months, with Miami making its debut.

There has additionally been discuss of additional enlargement, with Las Vegas seen because the almost certainly candidate.

While there are not any U.S. drivers, the game has been owned since 2017 by U.S.-based Liberty Media who’ve focused America as a key development space.

The sport struggled to make inroads prior to now, notably after an notorious six automotive race at Indianapolis in 2005 left large reputational injury.

The Texas weekend provided loads of proof of Formula One’s rising recognition, with many crediting the Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ documentary collection, now filming season 4.

“I think Netflix has been outstanding for Formula One. It’s driven a younger fan base, it’s driven a much larger fan base. It’s really had an impact in America,” mentioned McLaren’s American boss Zak Brown.

“I think it’s doing what we as a sport would like it to do, which is turn on a bunch of new fans. I think it’s been hugely successful.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed.

“We were not keen at the beginning of Netflix because we wanted to concentrate on on-track performance and I was wrong. It’s clearly a big success,” he mentioned.

“Everywhere in the world it was the number one documentary on Netflix for quite a while and it’s become part of Formula One and you can clearly see it’s beneficial… the feedback that we get from fans is tremendous, especially here in the U.S.”

The attendance might also have been boosted by the shortage of a race final 12 months and the pandemic impact, with bottled-up demand for mass gatherings.

The tense and thrilling battle between seven-times world champion Hamilton and Red Bull’s Sunday race winner and total chief Max Verstappen has drawn new followers as effectively.

Mexican Sergio Perez’s transfer to Red Bull this season as a race winner in a aggressive automotive was one other important issue for followers from the area.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, modifying by Christian Radnedge

Formula One F1 - United States Grand Prix - Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. - October 24, 2021 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during a press conference after finishing the United States Grand Prix in second place  FIA/Handout via REUTERS