Lewis Hamilton says it will be a “good mission” for Formula 1 to find the next American driver as the sport’s popularity in the country continues to grow.
There has perhaps been no country like the US that has seen such a dramatic rise in the number of Formula 1 fans in recent years.
Thanks in no small part to Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ series, the sport seems to have finally broken into the wider American culture and the Miami Grand Prix was the most visual example of the sport’s rising popularity with 85,000 packed into the stands for race day.
Despite this, the rise in interest has yet to translate onto the track and it has been more than six years since the last American F1 driver raced in the shape of Alexander Rossi.
The most logical route seems through American team Haas, but their team principal Guenther Steiner has identified two problems stopping them from taking on a US driver.
“There are two difficulties with this,” Steiner said in an interview with Crash.Net. “First is, if as a team you don’t give an American driver what he thinks he deserves or expects, it’s not good for us and why would we do it then?
“And secondly, if the driver isn’t good enough, it’s not good for the American market as well. It needs to be at least a success story. I think there was a time when American drivers didn’t put a lot of effort to get into F1 because it’s very difficult.”
As Steiner suggested, the culture of the US in relation to F1 has also been identified by Lewis Hamilton as a stumbling block for an American’s route into the sport.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” Hamilton replied when asked during the Miami press conference why more American drivers have not made it to the grid. “I think it’s perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States it’s the NFL, NBA. It’s NASCAR, IndyCar.
“In my 16 years of coming over here it’s been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a grand prix.”
Hamilton did, however, say he thought a step had been taken and said it was a “good mission” for F1 to find the next American driver.
“I think this new step that’s been taken, into bringing awareness, the Netflix show, has really just brought in that amazing fan base, a sport fan base that we have that there is here in the US. And maybe now’s the time to start focusing on how we can include more people here because it’s such a diverse country.
“I’m sure there are some amazing drivers here somewhere as they have so many great sporting talents. So it would be a good mission for us to find the next one.”