Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1 is “as close to NASA as we can be” because of the limited number of drivers who have managed to reach the elite level of the sport. The Mercedes driver discussed the change in his appreciation for Formula One in the United States during press conferences after finishing second at the Circuit of the Americas.
The track saw record attendance for the second year in a row, with 440,000 spectators visiting Austin Stadium throughout the weekend. Turnout is underpinning a rise in voting rates in the US since Liberty Media took over the sport in 2017, with increased social media engagement and Drive to Survive Netflix documentaries helping drive viewership. Max Verstappen won the Grand Prix in Austin, his thirteenth victory of the season.
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With so much interest in attending the COTA race weekend and adding two more races in the US (Miami and Las Vegas) starting next season, Hamilton was asked what he thinks has made a difference for American fans. “I really don’t know. Aside from the Netflix show, which really gave people a much deeper understanding. If you turn on the TV and start watching it, it’s going to be very, very difficult to understand what’s going on. When you go to see it for the first time, it’s hard because you don’t know the details of what’s going on. It happens within the teams.Obviously over a couple of racing holidays it becomes a lot more clear.It opens the doors and then I think once the people who have seen come in, they’ve just walked into a real knowledge gap to learn more about technology, for example, there’s a lot of math It’s used in the background and there’s a huge amount of data, it’s the most advanced technology out there, and that helps to develop and transition to road cars.”
Referring to the exclusive nature of being a Formula 1 driver, Hamilton added that he sees similarities between Formula 1 and NASA. The small number of drivers such as Verstappen, Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in Formula 1 is somewhat compatible with the exclusive group who becomes an astronaut and is allowed to go into space. “At the end of the day, there are 20 sports drivers who put their lives on the line, weekend, weekend. Unlike other exciting sports as well. There are a lot of athletes out there. In terms of athletes, we are in this sport only at number 20. So it is A very small group of us can drive these ‘rockets’, so we’re as close as we can get to NASA in that regard. I think.”
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