Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Hamilton pleased by F1’s “huge” progress in America, but eager for return to Africa

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he has seen tremendous growth in the appetite for Formula 1 in America, but wants the sport to look to Africa next.

The world champion backed the sport’s decision to add a second race in the USA in Miami on the 2022 F1 calendar.

“The US Grand Prix is fantastic,” said Hamilton, “and it’s such a huge country, having just one race here for sure isn’t enough to really be able to tap into the sporting culture here and really encapsulate the fans and get them on the journey with us.

“I think definitely you need at least to have two, but there are so many great cities to have a grand prix,” he continued. “Miami is going to be incredible, as is Austin.”

A race in Las Vegas, where F1 briefly appeared in 1981 and 1982, has been regularly tipped as a future venue for a third American race. Hamilton said he’s “not opposed” to racing in America three times per year. “I think that’s quite cool having kind of little mini-championships in these continents, I think it’s not a bad thing for the sport.”

Hamilton scored the second victory of his career in the USA in 2007. The series did not return to the country until 2012, when Circuit of the Americas opened.

While F1 has struggled to gain widespread popularity in the country previously, Hamilton believes US sports culture has a significant appetite for new events.

“I think we already knew from the beginning that there was huge potential here,” the seven-time world champion said. “My first race in the US was 2007 but already [having] been to a NASCAR race, seeing how it is into an NFL game and NBA game, you just see this.

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“They’re crazy about sports over here and there’s never enough sports they always want more, more action.”

In terms of F1’s popularity in the US, Hamilton said “the progress than I’ve seen over these years has been huge” and has accelerated since since Liberty Media took over the sport.

“Of course in this last couple of years it’s been the steepest rise and more and more people are talking about it, more and more people engaging.

“The amount of emails and messages I get from people who I’ve known for years in the States but never knew what I was doing and now are hooked and can’t wait to come, I think a lot of them are coming this weekend. So I think that’s only good. It’s a good thing and it’s great to see the response.”

However Hamilton believes F1’s priority should be a return to Africa, which last held a grand prix in 1993. “The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important to me is is to get a race back in South Africa,” he explained.

“I think there’s a great following out there and I think it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is.”

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Charles Leclerc agreed that both an extended US calendar segment and a visit to Africa would benefit F1.

“I would love to have a third race in the US,” he said. “I think Formula 1 is getting bigger and bigger in the last years thanks to the Netflix series.

“I can definitely feel it and see it and I love also this country. So it’s great to be here and I would be very happy to have a third race here. I agree with Lewis on Africa in general it would be great to have a race there.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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25 comments on “Hamilton pleased by F1’s “huge” progress in America, but eager for return to Africa”

  1. So that the billionaire African elites can have some fun at an F1 Grand Prix while mocking the miserable lives of their fellow citizens? What good would it do? South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. More than 50% of the population live in poverty.

    1. You don’t beat poverty by refusing to go to a country though and helping with increasing economic activity. We’ve absolutely hammered the poorest parts of the world over the last 18 months with our decadent western lock downs that have helped push 150m extra people into Extreme Poverty. I don’t fancy becoming even MORE insular.

      Lewis is right that F1 should be looking towards Africa.

      1. decadent western lock downs

        Yeah, the whole Western World indulged in luxury and pleasure during the past year.
        They should have done like others where the health system collapsed and people needlessly died due to a lack of oxygen.
        That’s how you beat poverty.

        1. people died in the west too Einstein.. people died waiting in the ambulance..

          any system will be overwhelmed, when burdened with a 1000% increase in demand..
          basic math.. the country you mention(i believe india), still has the lowest per capita deaths for covid..

          1. Too much credit calling me Einstein.

            And no, in most Western countries the health system did not collapse. And that was solely due to the timely lock-downs implemented.
            The lock-downs were more than just ‘decadent Western’ measures, and saved many lives.

    2. As Binotto said, Its proof that these countries want to get better. (wink)

      1. You don’t help beat poverty by refusing to look at what demographic your economic activity is targeting.

    3. And lets check some other F1 venues

      Italy has seen absolute Poverty rise over the last couple of years. Now above 10%. Let’s take a gander at Spain. 6m in absolute poverty and 11m at risk of social exclusive. SO that’s 12% in absolute poverty. All of these made worse with INCREASED disparity between wealthy and poor and accelerated by economic restrictions over the last year and a bit. Wanna see what the UK government is doing the Gypsy, Roma and Travellers at the moment? Want to see what an unequal society is, look no further than outside your front door.

      Should we now further their pain by not hosting sporting events, which are often a life line for various communities? Does this make economic sense? Should we strip Silverstone of its Grand Prix, and cause ALL that economic pain to the industries and small businesses that rely upon it?

      I know various folk out there are STILL calling for more business destruction and in effect poverty increases (for what reason I can’t fathom any more, it’s barbaric) via event cancellations, but it’s clear to me, as long as the race is not some big government spending spree (which is unfortunately often the case), we should be going to Africa, absolutely.

      Africa is a big place obviously but motorsport is strong in S Africa. We’ve got some great racing scenes in other countries too with Kenya having just built an amazing kart track.

      1. Nearly half the adult population of South Africa lives in poverty. The South African government measures poverty by three threshold points. The upper-bound poverty line (UBPL) indicates an income of 1,183 Rand ($70.90) per month. According to the Department of Statistics in South Africa, 49.2% of the population over the age of 18 falls below the upper-bound poverty line. 34% of people are unemployed. How can you even compare poverty levels in Europe and South Africa?

    4. So let’s have 23 British GPs? Of course, all held in the south of England, to avoid any chance of hearing the northern accent. Poverty is one thing (and F1 shouldn’t discriminate based on that), monstrous regimes another (like the murderers ruling S. Arabia). S. Africa suffers from poverty, racial tensions (today coming from both sides) and zillion other problems. Well, most other countries suffer from something too.

    5. South Africa most unequal? Have you heard of Brazil? China? Russia? Azerbaijan??
      Are you just hitting out because AFRICA??

      1. I think HAM is just hitting out because AFRICA.

        South Africa is exceptional in the continent, and there’s nothing for Africa to gain for F1 to go to South Africa.

        It would be better to just say: “I’d love to go to South Africa because Kyalami is such a brilliant circuit.”

        But all I read is “We need to go to Africa because Africa”. Saying “Africa” is seems to be good enough for a mediocre sound bit.

        There’s no social gain (if anything just am inequality increase) for Africa to receive the F1 circus other than rich business and hotel owners, or entertaining billionaires.

    6. Exactly. I’m happy there is not a race in Africa, most f1 races are fraudulent. Some funds come from the tax payers and the economics of these events are misrepresented in order to keep robbing the people.

  2. OK then… where in Africa would actually want to put a race on?

    The wealthier counties in southern Africa like Angola, Namibia and Botswana still aren’t wealthy enough to be happy to splash out on a new race track. Street track might be an option though. I just don’t think they have the interest.

    In North Africa, Egypt might be interested as they are desperate to get the tourists back again. Morocco could be interested, they do have a legacy of hosting a grand prix.

    That leaves South Africa. The situation there is not what it used to be. They are slowly recovering from a period of government corruption that has left the country in a state where some places no longer get 24 hour electricity. Immorality aside, apartheid era South Africa was a more economically stable than it is now.

    I can’t imagine many other places would be interested.

    Forgive me, I’m trying to sound clever here, but I might be totally wrong.

    1. There were lot of riots in South Africa where there were racial attacks on Indian origin people.

  3. I wouldn’t want another race in US, the timings are atrocious, South Africa would be cool but only if they can afford it, this seems to be more of pitch for racing in Africa cause its Lewis’s motherland? I thought he was British.

  4. the motherland

    So SA is ‘the motherland’ now? Jeezz..

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      23rd October 2021, 9:34

      The tribal aggression in the comments above illustrate the polarization and fragmentation we have now in society. We are one species, one race, we should act like it.

      Oh and by the way South Africa is the “Motherland” of the human race. Its here the first homo sapiens were thought to have evolved. Ironic isn’t it?

  5. So Americans have:

    NFL
    NBA
    NHL
    NASCAR

    In an attempt to crack the States, maybe F1 should rebrand as NF1?

    1. There’s also MLB and MLS but they wouldn’t count anyway.

  6. Hmmm…

    I quite like the idea of multiple championships within the championship.

    The top points scorer in Europe could be crowned Champion of Europe. The same for The Americas, Asia etc.

    Gives drivers that might not be in with a chance of winning the driver’s championship the opportunity to fight for a trophy.

    1. would be interesting to discover who won these regional championships in past seasons!

  7. Is kyalami still up to standard for the F1 circus? Both in terms of grade and length? You could throw in a second round north of the Sahara ideally too, like the Moroccan WTCC round. You always want each feasible continent to be represented in a WC.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      23rd October 2021, 9:44

      I’d love F1 to go here

      Senegal – Click to view circuit

      Money and facilities the problem, but Liberty should stump up!

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