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Sports Amid boom in Formula 1 popularity, Sunday's US Grand Prix gets fan, TV boost

14:50  24 october  2021
14:50  24 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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For the first time in two years, Formula 1 will make its return to North America.

The Circuit of the Americas in Autstin, Texas, hosts the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix this weekend. © Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports The Circuit of the Americas in Autstin, Texas, hosts the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix this weekend.

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, will host the U.S. Grand Prix Sunday as the F1 season winds down with seven races to go and six points separating first place Max Verstappen (262.5) and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton (256.5).

Coming back to the United States since the sport has gained popularity thanks to the emergence of the Netflix documentary series "Drive to Survive," which follows the league throughout the season, is a welcome opportunity for F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

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"No doubt for us the U.S. market is the biggest market for potential growth," Domenicali told USA TODAY Sports in an interview last week. "It will be great to see this enthusiasm in Austin."

The sold out crowd means more than 120,000 people will be in attendance Sunday, the most F1 has drawn in the U.S., Domenicali said.

Another sign of Formula 1's increasing popularity in the U.S. is the addition of a second race in the country – in Miami – on the 2022 schedule. The two cities F1 has selected for its races are no accident.

"There is direct vibes. There is direct energy," said Domenicali, a former team principal at Ferrari. "We are talking about emotion, a kind of lifestyle and presence."

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And the U.S. might be in line for an additional Grand Prix in the future, Domenicali said.

In addition to the natural attraction of a rivalry at the top is the talented pool of drivers across the board, Domenicali said.

"We have an incredible number of drivers, so good, so young, so talented," Domenicali said. "That’s one of the reasons why Formula 1 is so successful today."

Lewis Hamilton, right, celebrates on the podium with Max Verstappen after the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix on Sept. 26, 2021. © Alexander Nemenov, AFP via Getty Images Lewis Hamilton, right, celebrates on the podium with Max Verstappen after the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix on Sept. 26, 2021.

Fans have become invested in the other drivers thanks to the Netflix show, Domenicali estimates. In an effort to draw new fans who may not be interested in the actual racing, the series bet on storytelling and behind the scenes access to attract the younger generation.

"What we are doing is to maximize the value of our product," Domenicali said. "This is our mission."

Column: F1 takes another run at conquering America

  Column: F1 takes another run at conquering America Formula One has been down this road before. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the world’s most popular form of auto racing looked like the next big thing in the United States. Mario Andretti won a world championship. Three grand prix races were held in a single year on American asphalt. Those were giddy times, but they didn't last. Now, F1 and its American-based owner, Liberty Media, are making another big push to carve out a red, white and blue stronghold in a country where it's long been overshadowed by other ways of going fast. From the popularity of the Netflix documentary series “Drive To Survive” to the addition of a second U.S.

Gaining a stronger foothold in the U.S. is the next step.

When is the U.S. Grand Prix?

The Formula 1 race is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

Where is the U.S. Grand Prix?

The race is held at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

What channel is broadcasting the U.S. Grand Prix?

ABC will televise the race in the United States. ESPN Deportes will have a Spanish-language broadcast.

Is there a live stream of the U.S. Grand Prix?

The race can be streamed at Watch ESPN and on the ESPN app.

Is there a pre-race show?

The pre-race broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. on ABC and can be streamed on Watch ESPN and the ESPN app.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amid boom in Formula 1 popularity, Sunday's US Grand Prix gets fan, TV boost

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