F1 should learn from NASCAR tracks – Hamilton

2017 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton wants Formula One to put on more races in city-centre locations and move fans closer to the cars like NASCAR does.

Speaking in an interview for a Mercedes sponsor Hamilton said he “likes some of the tracks we have” but is “not necessarily a fan of a lot of the new circuits we generally get.”

“Some of them are so far outside of a city, people have to commute so far,” he explained. “The future is city circuits, I think.”

“I hope they introduce more city circuits. New York would be amazing. The States is such a big part of the world and we only have one grand prix there.”

Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media has expressed an interest in adding more races in America. Hamilton believes the sport’s popularity in the USA is underestimated. “There is more [support] than you think.”

“But I think a lot like Brits they are avid sport fans, they go crazy for sports, they just want to be involved and they want to be up close. I think that’s what Formula One needs to change.”

Fans were closer to the action at Silverstone in 2009…
…before the track was renovated

“For example they’re building these race tracks, Silverstone where you go down the old pit straight down to Copse the grandstand is like 100 metres from the track. This is not a dangerous part of the circuit. They’ve got to have binoculars to see me come past. They should be up close.”

When you go to a NASCAR race you’re up close to the fence and that’s super-exciting. I think they’ve got to bring the fans closer, somehow, to the action.”

However Hamilton also wants a race in Britain’s capital. “I want a grand prix in London so much,” he said.

“It wouldn’t sound spectacular right now because the cars sound terrible, the V6, it’s a known fact they sound really bad, You can sit on the pit wall and have a ‘phone call and the whole pack comes past and you can still continue.”

“When I first came to Formula One it was so loud it pierces your ear. It was like a fighter jet coming past. I hope in future they bring back that sound.”

With attendance below 30,000 for some round of last year’s championship Hamilton wants to see more races at sold-out venues.

“We’ve got some races in some places where there are just no fans. Why the hell do we have a race in these places? It’s the fans that make the event. When you go to Silverstone, one of the greatest races of the year because it is packed.”

“But then we go to some places, we used to go to Turkey and there would be 4,000 people there. I don’t know if there’s less of a love there or if it’s too expensive for those people but I think we need to be in places where there are actual fans where they want to have a race.”

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Keith Collantine
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16 comments on “F1 should learn from NASCAR tracks – Hamilton”

  1. How do you that on non oval tracks?

  2. Agree with much of what he’s saying. Glad to hear his thoughts on the sound, or lack thereof.

    I recall there being much debate about this on this site. At the time I had the feeling that many fans are eternal optimists about the sport, and were being a bit disingenuous about how they felt about the sound. Admittedly, it’s a perception issue, but I wonder how the polls would compare if the V6/V8/V10 eras were conducted again…

    1. The V10 era was really good. I don’t know why they got rid of them.

  3. It’s about time one of these guys speaks what’s on his mind. Bravo for that. I agree with every point he made including the sounds.

  4. LH has a point about track locations and grandstand placements. Many of NASCAR tracks are located pretty close to large cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Circuit Of The Americas is in Austin but it’s on the rural southeastern edge of the city beyond the airport and not easily accessible. I think LH wants the sport to duplicate the NASCAR fans’ experience of getting close to the cars and engaging the drivers and I believe Liberty Media will try that.

  5. With NASCAR, in the good old days, if Bill France thought that an engine was too good he would put a restrictor on the intake. The spectacle was the thing, and one car out in front is no spectacle. The other thing that made it fun was that you could cheat if you weren’t caught. There was a 9 tenths scale racer. Everyone knew it was a cheater, but until it was seen parked alongside a full size street car they got away with it. Happy days .

  6. I don’t think that is just NASCAR that is doing it better, Formula 1 could learn a lot from Formula E too.

    In the UK for example Formula E is held much closer to the populous of people, more hotels, better transportation connections (local and international), far cheaper ticket prices and you get closer to the action. On the whole Formula E just seems to be much more accessible to attend, to watch on TV and on social media.

    I’m still more of a F1 fan than a Formula E fan, but I would say I am more inclined to attend a Formula E race than a F1 race. With Formula E you can have a city break and watch the race and it would probably still be cheaper than attending a race in the middle of no-where. Granted there are still F1 tracks that are worth the inconvenience, but there is a lot of soulless homogenised tracks with poor attendances that could easily make way.

  7. I don’t think he really needs to point at other sports though, I’m pretty lucky being in Melbourne and we get a great opportunity to get up close with just a general admission on the little hills surrounding the track and it’s pretty close to the city to boot.

    F1 just needs more well designed and planned circuits.

    I’m still not sold on the sound factor, everyone’s complimenting FE and it has no sound whatsoever. Plus going to more cities with the piercing sound doesn’t really add up. Not everyone loves F1 and having the sound of jet fighters reverberating around city buildings can get old fast. Melbourne was constantly facing political opposition to the race due to local complaints from residents.

  8. Bernie pushed it all too far, but he understood exclusivity. If everyone can have it, nobody wants it. F1 is wearing very few clothes.

    1. I don’t buy it, F1 will always be exclusive simply by the fact that even if they raced every weekend, there’s only 52 weeks in a year. There’s only a limited number of potential locations, so make it as valuable as possible so as many locations as possible are vying for their spot. Same goes for teams. That’s how you drive exclusivity, not by shutting people out.

  9. If anyone thinks NASCAR is doing great they have misread this article. Lewis is talking about fan interaction and how the crowds are close to the track. Fans have since the beginning of NASCAR been allowed to walk the garage, pit road, and anything you can think of. That’s what Lewis wants. Accessibility.
    In terms of NASCAR being close to major cities, did anyone watch the Clash at Daytona today? Was there even 500 people in the stands? Lewis has it wrong with the city part. In my earlier post I said I agreed with everything he said, but the locations in NASCAR don’t matter. I’ve seen 15 hillbillies from Kentucky show up in a Dale Jr painted school bus with a platform and hottub on top camp in the infield at Michigan for 5 years, true race fans will show up. Smelling the fumes and rubber is unlike anything the tv will give us.

  10. He’s making a lot of interesting points of late

  11. This is where I think Melbourne gets it right. Albert Park has the look of a permanent circuit but the feel of a street circuit. All the way around you can basically stand at any corner of the track and be no more than 5 metres away from the cars blasting past.

    The points made about the proximity of a race track to the city is a also a good one. I’ll never forget the first time I went to the Melbourne GP and my alarm clock was the ear piercing sound of the 2 seater Minardi bouncing of the buildings.

  12. At first I thought he was smoking weed… Then reading entire article, I find myself agreeing fully… Why are fans 100+m from the track?

  13. Constantijn Blondel
    20th February 2017, 9:56

    Donald, is that you I’m hearing touting the neo-populist party line?

    I semi-agree with him (and Liberty) on a couple of points (partly for dofferent reasons), but to me he makes the impression of someone playing the ‘tell them what they most want to gear’ card to the max.

    Does he know something, possibly about Bottas, that most of us don’t know, which causes him to get the fans behind him on non-racing issues, just in case?

    It’s right up there with the ‘if we just go back to stick + clutch pedal, everything will be solved’ school of thought.

    Constantijn (who finds HAM hugely entertaining both on and off track)

  14. I agree with all of what he says here, in particular the sound. If I remember correctly, opinions were quite evenly split on this site when a poll was done regarding what people think of the sound of this generation of engine, but I am still of the opinion that perhaps a lot of the people who voted have not heard the cars live at the circuit.

    My hope is that within a few years we will be back to mind-blowing live F1. I have memories from many years ago firmly stuck in my mind of how F1 used to be. The sound of Mika Hakkinen’s V10 as he braked into the bus stop at Spa, the noise on the overrun was awe-inspiring, literally scary to behold. The scream of the Ferrari V12 into the Parabolica at Monza. These are things that are a great loss with the noise currently not worthy of what the spectacle should be. I have attended only one GP in this turbo era, after around 35 GP weekends in the ‘old days’. The only real memory I have of the Barcelona GP weekend 2014 was how much it all cost!

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