Formula 1 chants USA in Austin

By Jim Vertuno, AP, 17 November 2012
© AP Photo/Luca Bruno

At every turn, Formula 1 officials and drivers are bombarded with questions about just how important the return of F1 to the United States could be for the global sport.

Former world champion McLaren's Lewis Hamilton said he's glad to be back. He won the last U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis in 2007 and said he was shocked to see more than 65,000 fans at Friday's practice sessions.

"It feels fantastic. I've spent a lot of time here in the U.S. so I feel at home. When we had the last Grand Prix in Indianapolis, I don't think we had this many fans, even on race day," Hamilton said.

Horner called the U.S. a critical market for Formula 1 and predicted Austin will be a popular race on the circuit.

"To be a true world championship,'' Horner said, "you've got have a race in America."

A concern for the teams is this weekend's conflict with the season finale in NASCAR, which enjoys a huge fan base and television exposure in the U.S.

"I think the major problem is that whatever weekend you stick a Formula 1 race there's going to be a NASCAR race," Horner said. "They seem to race every single weekend."


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