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Featured Can Hamilton lead Formula 1 into the US for good?

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens
    Staff

    hamiltonusgp.jpg The three-time world champion can be a divisive figure among F1 fans, but his recent tour stateside proves he’s the man to win over the world’s biggest market

    It’s only taken 60 years, but if Formula 1 ever hopes to become anything more than a niche sport in the US of A, it may finally have the man capable of making it happen.

    Having recently completed a press junket that saw him appear on shows such as 60 Minutes and Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lewis Hamilton has proven himself capable of becoming a household name in the US – and with the fate of the United States Grand Prix once more on uncertain footing, his rise to stardom couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Despite being only four years into its new home at the purpose-built-for-F1 Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the US GP is already on thin ice due to cuts in state funding. The Texas Government’s reasoning for the cuts was based on a recalculation of how much the event brings in from tourist dollars – something that was notably affected this year by poor weather and the Mexican Grand Prix a week later.

    If the FIA was to remove the race from the calendar, it would be just the latest in a long line of attempts to establish F1 in America that is as old as the championship itself. The difference should the sport fail this time, is that it would be wasting the golden opportunity someone of Hamilton’s star-quality provides.

    For many F1 fans, it would be easy to scoff at that notion. All you have to do is peruse the comments section on any Hamilton-related article to see he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Everything from his style choices and behaviour, to perceived favouritism in certain media circles make him F1’s answer to Cristiano Ronaldo. The thing is, when he walks out on a show like Jimmy Kimmel’s – where he was incredibly well-spoken and, for as much as he’s ridiculed for his fashion choices, looked the part of an A-Lister – none of that matters. For all intents and purposes he’s a blank slate, and with that “first” impression he represented himself and his sport admirably. It’s the one aspect in which Hamilton stands alone among F1 drivers past-and-present – he’s as good at being a celebrity as he is behind the wheel.

    Of course, if F1 wants to make it big in America, it’ll have to face the familiar concerns over the quality of the racing, but don’t underestimate the importance of star-power either. It’s an important element in growing any sport, and it’s something Hamilton himself is proof of with his well-professed admiration of Ayrton Senna. Hamilton can be an engaging personality on TV, and for Americans who have no real idea of what F1 is, having him on some of their biggest talk shows can only be a good thing.

    However, there is the other side of the coin, which is that all the Hamilton-exposure in the world won’t help F1 if it fails to keep a race there. In that respect it was actually a bit weird to see the reigning world champion blaze a trail across American TV, while the only race in the country could be off the calendar as soon as next year. If Bernie and FOM were smart, they’d be taking the long-term view and (at least temporarily) alleviating CotA’s hosting fees to keep the sport in what is undoubtedly their biggest potential market. Sure, the US has 320 million people to China or India’s billion-plus, but those places have a long way to go to catch up with a nation that boasts 32 of Forbes’ 50 highest-earning athletes, and 42 of the world’s 50 wealthiest sporting franchises. It’s not like anyone is expecting F1 to supplant NASCAR, but there’s clearly great potential, and with the attention someone like Hamilton can generate, not capitalising on it would be a tremendously wasted opportunity.

    Is Hamilton a good face for F1 in the US? Is a local race necessary to the sport’s growth? Or should the focus be on regions with an existing fanbase? Sound off in the comments below.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2015
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  2. xnorb

    xnorb
    Premium Member

    Not everything works everywhere.
    The USA have Indycar and Nascar, they don't need our F1 if they don't want it.

    Better put all the work in making F1 popular again in the old markets.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. rocafella1978

    rocafella1978
    Premium Member

    agree 100%!!! they are F1 banausen anyways!
     
  4. 100% agreed. At this rate, they may win over the US but lose the rest of the world, at least a big portion of it.
     
  5. Brandon Wright

    Brandon Wright
    I'm just here for the snacks Premium Member

    I watched the 60 MInutes piece last night and it was really well done, focused on his up-bringing and on-track abilities, none of the glitz/glamour/fashion/rapper stuff. Really made him out to be a good guy, hopefully made a few new Murican fans.
     
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  6. I'm in the USA and love F1 and even attended the flooded USGP this year. Indy is just ok and I don't care for NASCAR at all. Go figure.

    From what I read on F1, it seems the "old markets" don't care that much for it either. All I see are articles, headlines, and forum posts from bitter fans complaining about how boring F1 is. How can it possibly catch on in the US if people in the rest of the world don't even like the sport?
     
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  7. Brandon Wright

    Brandon Wright
    I'm just here for the snacks Premium Member

    I'm the same, follow F1 (and IndyCar, though it has its own problems) religiously but barely pay attention to NASCAR.

    Honestly, you really have to be a serious race fan, preferably with years of experience being a F1 fan, to like F1 right now. The on-track product is boring rubbish, the cars/engines are a travesty, and a lot of the drivers are un-inspiring and only there because someone paid for their seat. It would be virtually impossible to attract new fans with the product currently on offer. The only real entertainment is the political in-fighting and intra-team dramas. I still watch every available minute, but that has more to do with Matchett and Hobbs (I could watch those guys commentate an antique show and thoroughly love it).
     
  8. I'm in the US and F1 has a pretty good following here. I know a lot of people personally that follow it. I went to 3 of the 4 USGP's in Austin, and I really hope they don't let it drop off the calender. I think with Haas coming in next year that will up the interest here, especially if they are somewhat competitive at least running mid field. TBH there needs to be an American driver in there too. If you really want to grow the sport here, try to attract one of the stars from IndyCar or NASCAR into F1.
     
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  9. Hamilton is only good for the short term. He isn't going to keep it on the calendar for many years. The issue is he just isn't as popular in my opinion. Look at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (Which is a popularity contest in essence). He won it last year with a whopping 209,920 votes. Fast forward a year and you'll see him finish 5th (The worst place he has finished in the 4 SPOTY award appearance's he has made), with a poor 48,379. He has managed to lose 160,000 votes in a single year. If he can't maintain that big fanbase in the UK, he won't manage it in the States. What the US Grand Prix needs is an American success story.
     
  10. US Americans seem happy to focus on their "own" sports.
    Just look at football/soccer, now they are content with scraps of attention.

    And then there's the fact that F1 is probably at an all time low.