Usain Bolt in F1: Retired sprinter to be official starter at United States Grand Prix

Eight-time Olympic champion to give signal to drivers to start formation lap ahead of Sunday's race at Austin

Athletics - World Athletics Championships – Usain Bolt's farewell ceremony – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 13, 2017 – Usain Bolt of Jamaica gestures. REUTERS/Phil Noble     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Usain Bolt is set to trade the running track for the race track after he was confirmed as the official starter for the United States Grand Prix.

The eight-time Olympic champion, who hung up his running spikes following August's World Championships in London, will give the signal to Lewis Hamilton and Co to start their formation lap ahead of Sunday's race in Austin.

Hamilton, who could clinch his fourth world championship this weekend, is also set to drive Bolt round the 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas track in a Mercedes-AMG road car two hours before the start of the grand prix.

As part of a star-studded line-up thrown together by Formula One's American owners Liberty Media for their first grand prix on home soil, boxing announcer Michael Buffer will introduce Hamilton and the rest of the pack one-by-one on to the grid ahead of Sunday's race.

F1's new owners have also taken the unprecedented step of changing the sport's schedule to accommodate a Justin Timberlake concert.

Pop star Timberlake is due to perform at the circuit on Saturday evening - and following a request by promoters of the Texas race - qualifying will be moved back by two hours. It means the one-hour session that determines the grid will now take place at 4pm local time.


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F1 fans in the UK will be forced to wait until 10pm to watch the action unfold, rather than the original 8pm start.

"We continue to layer in new elements at each grand prix and this innovative driver presentation format seemingly was an appropriate addition for Austin," said F1's American commercial chief Sean Bratches.

"The USA is, without a doubt, the country where sports events are seen as entertainment that goes above and beyond the purely sporting contest.

"We want to do something that positions Formula One Grand Prix as breaking the boundaries, between sport and a show, thus becoming a unique event that, minute by minute is an unforgettable experience."

Hamilton heads Sebastian Vettel in the title race by 59 points and will seal his third championship in four years if he wins on Sunday, and his rival finishes sixth or lower.