Sunday at 2 p.m. Formula One racing will get a proper place to showcase why it is one of the world’s most popular sports and one of the most colorful. NBC will air the United States Grand Prix that will be run on the beautiful and tricky Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas.
The race will showcase one of the world’s best driver’s Sebastian Vettel the lead driver for Red Bull Racing and their Renault powered car. He has won 11 of the 17 races so far this season, including the last seven in a row,wrapped up his fourth consecutive Formula 1 title in India last month.
Only three other drivers have won that many – Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher – and only Fangio and Schumacher have won four or more in a row, as Vettel now has.
The NBC Sports F1 team is made up of a very talented and more importantly a very entertaining group led by host Leigh Diffey with analysts racing legend David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, rounding out the team is pit reporter Will Buxton. I spoke to both Hobbs and Buxton about Vettel as well as the future of F1 in the United States.
JW: What makes Vettel so dominating?
Hobbs: I think the fact is that Sebastian Vettel is obviously an outstanding young kid. You know, he was winning go-kart championships when he was like 9. As soon as he was into cars, he started winning championships. Then you put him together with Red Bull and Adrian Newey. Newey is an acknowledged genius with car design there’s no doubt about it.
I think that Adrian Newey has really used his genius and coupled it with Sebastian’s genius, and I think Adrian’s designed the car to suit Vettel’s driving skills. Because when Vettel joined the team, he and teammate Mark Webber were pretty much even steven on time. And as you can see this year Sebastian Vettel is winning the championship by 200 points nearly and Mark Webber’s fifth. It’s just that the car, combination of car and driver has become absolutely supreme.
JW: What will it take to get American race fans really interested in F1?
Buxton: I think American team would be great in Formula One. But I don’t think it can be born out of nothing. I think it needs a heritage element to it. It needs to be a Penske, a Ganassi, an Andretti. A team that already has traction, that already has a fan base here in the United States to take that history – to take that pedigree, and to go and compete on the ultimate motorsports stage would be fantastic.
I think simply creating a team and saying this is an American team – there were attempts to do it in the past and it didn’t come off for one reason or another. Personally I don’t think it’s the right approach. I think if we can get a Penske, if we can get a Ganassi someone like that into Formula One, it would be absolutely huge. And you would carry with them sort of so much love – so much passion that has been accrued over decades in the US. And I think that would be a fantastic thing for Formula One.
Here is the weekend broadcast information.
Fri., November 15 on NBC Sports Network 1 p.m. ET – United States Grand Prix – Practice (There will be a replay 10 p.m.)
Sat., November 16 on CNBC at 1 p.m. ET – United States Grand Prix – Qualifying (There will be a two replays on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.)