F1's popularity has grown rapidly in the United States of America in the years following Liberty Media Group's takeover of the series. Two Grands Prix are scheduled to be held stateside this season, with one out-and-out American team in Haas also operating on the grid.
In a joint interview session ahead of the 2022 F1 Miami GP, seven-time world champion Hamilton and others were asked why no American driver had been able to make a mark in the sport in nearly two decades. Hamilton said:
“It doesn’t really surprise me: I think it’s perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States. It’s the NFL, it’s NBA. It’s NASCAR, IndyCar. And I mean, in my 16 years of coming over here, it’s been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a grand prix. But I think this new step that’s been taken, into bringing awareness, the Netflix show, has really just brought in that amazing fan base, a sport fan base that we have, that there is here in the US.”
The 37-year-old went on to add, saying:
“And maybe now’s the time to start focusing on how we can include more people here, because it’s such a diverse country. I’m sure there’s some amazing drivers here somewhere, as they’ve got so many great sporting talents. So, it’d be a good mission for us to find the next one.”
"Now the fan base is just growing massively" - Pierre Gasly on F1's rising popularity in America
AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly feels F1's imprint on the US has become massive in recent years and bodes well for the sport's future in the country.
The US already has an avid motorsporting culture with an active fan following for multiple racing disciplines. The pinnacle of motorsport, however, has not been at the forefront until recently.
In the aforementioned interview session, Pierre Gasly shared his thoughts on the current state of the sport and how it can change in the years to come. He said:
“I agree with what Lewis [Hamilton] said. I think the culture is the main difference. Coming here four or five years ago, I remember all the fans knew about NASCAR, not many knew about Formula 1. I think to see the evolution, the exposure we got as a sport over the last two, three years, it’s been very impressive and now the fan base is just growing massively.”
Gasly added further, saying:
“And we can feel it, as drivers, when we see Austin last year: 450,000 people coming over the weekend was a very, very special and unique atmosphere. So now very excited to come back here more often with Miami, with Vegas. I’m sure with that exposure we’re getting now, more and more people are going to get into the sport and yeah, hopefully we will see more of them in the future.”
While there are no American drivers currently on the grid, that could change in the distant future. Michael Andretti is keen to join the sport in 2024 and McLaren have also reportedly been considering one of their American IndyCar drivers to partner Lando Norris when Daniel Ricciardo's contract ends with the team.
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