U.S. sports can help F1 reach new fans: Hamilton

Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:39pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Formula One should link up with mainstream American sports like basketball and football to reach new audiences in the United States, world champion Lewis Hamilton suggested on Thursday.

Asked at a U.S. Grand Prix news conference how the sport could create "more enthusiasm in urban black America for Formula One", and among urban kids in general, Hamilton listened to rivals before offering an opinion.

"Maybe Formula One can start to engage more with the NFL or with the other sports," said the only black driver on the starting grid.

"I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an NBA player come (to a race). I’ve had a friend come once. Otherwise it’s never really been anyone from those sports, different kind of sports."

Hamilton, who could claim his third championship and second in a row for Mercedes in Sunday's race, recognized it was difficult for many Americans to relate to his sport.

Coming from an under-privileged background himself, the grandson of emigrants from the West Indies whose family had little money and no prior involvement in motorsport, Hamilton knows about reaching new audiences.

But he also recognizes the difficulties.

"Obviously they’re crazy about NFL and NBA and they are sports that you can just go and buy the equipment, buy a ball or a racket and go play down the road or in the street, whereas karting, you can’t," said the Briton.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - United States Grand Prix 2015 - Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America - 22/10/15
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during a press conference ahead of the United States Grand Prix
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei