Hamilton looking to win over fans
10:42am Wednesday 13th November 2013 in © Press Association 2014
Lewis Hamilton has no doubt Formula One will ultimately win over its sceptical American audience.
The sport returned to the States for the first time last season after a five-year absence, with the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin proving to be a roaring success.
Like any new event, however, its longevity is often determined by its year-two attendance as the the novelty factor associated with a debut weekend has disappeared.
If spectator numbers remain high this weekend, especially with the title already won by Sebastian Vettel for a fourth successive year, COTA officials will start to feel they are in F1 for the long haul.
Despite continual doubts surrounding the proposed event in New Jersey for next season, last year's US GP winner Hamilton said: "I feel like it (Formula One) can grow (in America).
"The more I go to the States, the more I meet people who are crazy-passionate about it. I'd say more people than we probably realise love the sport.
"Obviously, most have grown up with NASCAR, with F1 new to many US motorsport fans, so it could take some time.
"But its popularity will grow and it will succeed in America."
With the campaign drawing to a close - the curtain coming down next weekend in Brazil - Hamilton is happy to be back at the scene of a victory he described as his "best" a year ago when he crossed the line for McLaren.
"I generally love being in the States," added Hamilton.
"I first went there when I was eight years old and having seen it - New York in particular - on TV and in so many movies, it felt like walking on to a film set. It really was amazing.
"Lots of places say it, but in America everything really is bigger and better - cars, food, everything!
"To be honest, I have not had a bad experience there, especially in terms of interaction with the people who are so welcoming to me.
"As for Austin, the weekend was so fantastic and the city was so vibrant, so I'm really looking forward to returning."
The track itself, the critical piece in the jigsaw for determining the future success of an event, was an instant hit with the drivers.
"I'll admit I was a little sceptical at the beginning," said Hamilton, coming towards the end of his first year with Mercedes.
"But I got used to the track quickly and I have to say the sequence of fast corners at the start of the lap is very cool.
"It ended up being one of those perfect weekends really, with my best memory that of hunting down Sebastian, catching him and overtaking him to become the first winner of the US Grand Prix in Austin.
"Now I am looking forward to seeing if I can hold on to my title. It is extra special to me as it is the first new track where I have my name tagged to it for the first win.
"That is something that will go down in F1 history."