Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas tends to get recognised when he goes to the United States, but it never seems to be for the right reasons.
The Finn was at the United States Grand Prix in 2019 when he got into a lift with some American fans, and when they asked who he was, he told them he was working with the Silver Arrows.
Unaware that the now 33-year-old was actually a driver, they referred to Sir Lewis Hamilton’s then team-mate as the “other guy,” before he went on to take his seventh career win.
Formula 1’s popularity has boomed in America in recent years following the emergence of Netflix docuseries, Drive to Survive.
Netflix’s film crews follow the teams and drivers around the world as they race to the chequered flag, picking up on key storylines throughout the year.
Some of those stories are more distorted than others, which is why Max Verstappen did not want to be a part of it last year, but there is no denying its effect.
Broadcast figures have broken records in the States this season, with DTS creating a brand-new demographic for the pinnacle of motorsport to break into.
Fans are no longer simply seeing the drivers race behind their visors on track; they now get to see a lot more of their personalities, which has helped viewers relate to them better than ever before.
A lot of fans now are into the sport now having watched the dramatized docuseries, so the drivers, particularly in the States, are now recognised as stars of DTS, now just as athletes.
“Every now and then, if I’m in the US, walking the streets, even in random towns, like ‘hey, you are the guy from Netflix!’” said Bottas on the Pitstop podcast.
The Finn has scored points seven times this season, but has not scored since the Canadian Grand Prix, while rookie team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, picked up his third top 10 finish of the year last time out in Monza.
Alfa Romeo sit sixth in the Constructors’ Standings and, while Bottas is contracted to the end of 2023, Zhou is still waiting to renew his deal that expires at the end of 2022.