Lewis Hamilton wants more F1 city race street circuits so diversity among fans is increased

Lewis Hamilton says he enjoys the atmosphere at F1 grand prixs hosted in major cities. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton says he wants Formula 1 to race at more street circuits in city centres in future in order to allow fans easier access to racing and increase the diversity of people attending grand prixs.

F1 ran its newest street race for the first time just over a week ago when Miami hosted its inaugural event, which was won by Max Verstappen after the world champion managed to overtake Charles Leclerc who had qualified on pole.

The event was praised for the party atmosphere it managed to create, though the quality of racing left plenty to be desire and a majority of drivers criticised aspects of the track layout and its slippery surface.

Traditional races at historic, purpose-built circuits away from cities are under threat as F1 expands its calendar. New, money-spinning races in the Middle East have been added to the calendar since Liberty Media purchased the sport from Bernie Ecclestone in 2017, and Las Vegas will become F1’s third US-race from 2023 onwards.

Furthermore, figures including F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff have talked up the possibility of adding one or two more Chinese races to the calendar in addition to the Shanghai circuit which first held a race in 2004.

F1 can only hold so many races per calendar year, and speculation has been rife that fan-favourite tracks like Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium could be dropped in the near future. For Hamilton, F1 races in cities allow fans to attend far more easily, and the atmosphere of a race weekend should be prioritised.

‘Of course I love the history, particularly in certain circuits, but the older I get, the more I realise it’s about the people,’ the seven-time world champions explained.

‘We could go to the middle of nowhere that has very few people, not great accommodation, not great community and for us, as individuals, driving on a track that’s historic is cool – but it’s about the people. And the people really do make it. We’ve experienced with pandemic, no one being in there and that’s just no atmosphere. It was like a test day, it was not enjoyable.

In addition to the face that more people can potentially attend street races, Hamilton believes that the inaugural Miami event showed that a more diverse crowd is likely to enjoy city centre F1 events, and so adding more to the calendar should be prioritised over securing the return of tracks which draw the same kinds of people.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate and George Russell appeared in front of a raucous crowd before the Miami Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

‘Now we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of people turn up to the race, energised, excited, keen to learn more,’ the 37-year-old added. ‘I think the fans are at the heart of what this sport is about, they create it. Being in cities where we can really engage in communities and actually also have an impact.

‘I love the Nurburgring, for example, but there’s not a diverse community there. We’re not actually impacting the place there. In Miami we can do something. I met a bunch of kids from diverse backgrounds, who now want to get into engineering and STEM subjects and so, it’s way cooler for me.’

The sixth round of the 2022 F1 season will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this weekend.

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