Lewis Hamilton hails F1 for finally cracking USA but admits Max Verstappen dominance is bad for sport | The Sun

LEWIS HAMILTON is thrilled Formula One has finally found a home in the United States – but the real proof will come in Las Vegas in November.

The seven-time world champion has hailed the way the sport has been run by Liberty Media since they took control in 2017.

The US company have opened up the sport to a younger audience by engaging with social media, an area in which previous F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone failed.

Liberty have also lucked into the hit TV series on Netflix, Drive to Survive, which has changed the demographic of the sport across the world.

F1's popularity has sky-rocketed and Liberty have added two races to the calendar with Vegas and Miami joining Austin, the host of this weekend's US GP.

Earlier this week, NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce both joined a group of investors in Alpine F1 team while Walmart heir and Denver Broncos owner, Rob Walton, has been linked with an investment in McLaren.



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And Hamilton believes it all points to a healthy position in the US.

He said: "When I came to the States for the first time in 2007, and for many years afterwards, you always find yourself just repeating yourself.

"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 [F1] bug.

"So it's been amazing to see that a large portion of the country is now speaking about it. Everyone wants to be a driver.

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"We have to continue to look at what is next. I think having the three races out here in such a huge nation, is massively helpful."

However, Hamilton admits this season's domination by Max Verstappen has caused a down-turn in popularity on social media, with numbers noticeably down on the previous two years.

The Dutchman has already wrapped up the title while his Red Bull team have also secured the constructors' championship, which Hamilton says is turning fans off.

The Brit, 38, added: "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.

"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."

Meanwhile, the Brit hopes the new F1 film starring Brad Pitt, which he is helping to write the script for, will take the sport to a new audience, particularly with Vegas joining the F1 calendar this season.

He said: "The movie is a huge step in that direction of broadening the horizon.

"That's really part of the new leadership with Liberty Media and the great work they are doing and being open to trying new things.

"The fact that we're allowed to do this movie, and have the concessions in terms of allowing an extra team being on track and filming with these film stars, has never been done before.

"And there's going to be a huge spotlight on Vegas. And that will play an important part in our movie.

"So with Austin, Vegas and Miami, we've got these great cities with amazing fan bases in each of them, all providing a different atmosphere.

"I always felt that we needed more than one race in the US, because the complaint was always people having to get up in the middle of the night to watch a Grand Prix, so it was really difficult to get into it.

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"So this is really enabling it to be something with a buzz that's continuing. But we do have to continue to grow and I think the movie particularly is going to help do that.

"F1 is the only truly international or global sport and so we need to educate more and more people in it. There's still many people out there we've got to get to catch the bug."

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