Hamlin said his newfound interest in Formula 1 came from several of his friends who paid attention to it and watched Drive to Survive, a popular documentary series produced in a collaboration between Netflix and Formula 1, to take a look behind the scenes check out the sport.
“I think I’ve probably seen more (F1) races this year than in my entire life. Part of this is being driven by social media. My friends agree to it. You can see that the American press is paying more attention to the subject this year, ”Hamlin said.
“Of course, when you see a buzz or see something about it on social media, you kind of want to tune in and see what’s going on. That sparked my interest in it, more than anything. “
Hamlin said his involvement with Netflix in a documentary about driver Bubba Wallace and his first season at 23XI Racing, which Hamlin owns with NBA legend Michael Jordan, also encouraged him to watch Drive to Survive.
“It definitely got me to see how they did the production and it certainly came over with some good storylines,” he said. “Sure, I’m a person who will morph into this show over time.”
Hamlin, who continues to battle to win his first series championship this year, said NASCAR needed to find a way to make its race weekends more of a “show” and take advantage of the more competitive races in NASCAR.
“It’s crazy because you know – you probably have a 90 percent chance of choosing which two guys will win (every F1 race). This year was a little different with the madness, but there are two people who can win, two teams that can win, ”said Hamlin. “There isn’t a lot of side-by-side racing compared to NASCAR, but the fans and media love it.
“When you talk about how critical the fans or the media or whoever our race might be in NASCAR, that’s amazing what’s going on right now. The show is good. Why can’t we get people to vote?
“Texas was just a big disappointment to see what was going on in the stands, and yet we’re talking about the largest crowd in history showing up for the COTA F1 race next week. So there is some kind of breakup that is not making this deal work. “
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10 Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB15, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34 and the rest of the pack tab the start
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport pictures
Of course there were several sold out and heavily attended NASCAR Cup races in the 2021 season, but the atmosphere that is created each weekend varies from track to track.
Several protocols from the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place, limiting the number of people in garages and on the pit lane before the races. With the exception of eight race weekends in the Cup series, there was neither training nor qualifying this year.
In addition, many sponsors reduced their at-track activation during the height of the pandemic and not all have returned to previous levels.
Hamlin, 40, believes NASCAR can learn something from how F1 can keep the “hype” around its events going even if the race on the track is not as competitive.
“I would love to see how we do a race weekend more F1-style and how we do hospitality, parties and all that stuff,” said Hamlin.
“There just has to be more to it than just showing up and racing like we’re doing right now.”