Should F1's disastrous social media numbers trigger an FIA intervention to slow down Max Verstappen and Red Bull?
After an entire year where F1 president Stefano Domenicalli continued to reason that Red Bull and Max Verstappen's dominance is good for the sport, the disastrous social media numbers tell a different story.
The report issued by Buzz Radar has revealed some shocking numbers and for a change, these do raise a very important question.
Will this data trigger an FIA intervention to stop the Red Bull and Max Verstappen dominance? Let's try and dissect.
What do the social media numbers indicate?
Before anything else, let's take a look at what the social media numbers indicate. The report looks at three specific metrics that include reach, new followers, and mentions. Over the last few years, F1 has seen a consistent increase in these metrics.
The 2021 F1 season title battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton helped bring in a lot of fans. Some of the influx spilled over into 2022 with the anticipation of a continuation of a close battle for the title. The 2023 F1 season, however, has put a damper on a lot of the anticipation.
It became clear from the very first race that Red Bull and Verstappen were going to dominate the sport. As it turns out, this is exactly what has happened, leading all of the metrics to nosedive.
The mentions in the sport have gone down from 6.14 million in January-May 2022 to 1.83 million in 2023 in the same period. The number of new followers has also gone down from 911.15 thousand to 489.37 thousand and the reach has dropped drastically as well from 61.73 billion to 22.16 billion; a massive drop in terms of overall engagement and it should be a serious concern.
What's the alarming bit about this?
The most alarming part of all of this is not only the dropping numbers but the sentiment around the sport. The report clearly shows that the sentiment seems to be negative with the word 'boring' associated with F1 more often than not.
For a sport that has grown in popularity over the last few years with the help of some impressive on-track action supplemented by the Netflix series Drive to Survive, this is just not a good look.
There seems to be an overwhelming feeling that the single-team domination has started to put people off and they're not as engaged as they used to be.
Is F1 intervention needed to stop the Red Bull-Max Verstappen dominance?
Now, this is an interesting question because if we consider F1 to be a sport, there cannot be any intervention. At the same time, Formula 1 is a source of entertainment as well. These new regulations were supposed to do one thing and that was bunching up the entire field.
We're in the second of the four seasons right now and Max Verstappen has won 28 races in the last two seasons, with only a handful going to the other drivers. It's safe to say that the regulations have not done the job.
If we go back to that weekend, Verstappen dunked six-tenths over his opposition in qualifying. He did it in a Red Bull car that has not had any major upgrade package this season and he beat a heavily upgraded McLaren. Red Bull switched focus to 2024 very early in the season and Verstappen destroyed the field in essentially a car that's not been worked on much this season.
One could only wonder what is in store for the rivals next season but one thing almost seems inevitable, it would take a miracle for a contender to emerge and challenge Red Bull.
This is precisely where the question comes for Stefano Domenicali. The sport has suffered big time with Max Verstappen's dominance. Could F1 endure another season of the same thing?
As I said earlier, an FIA intervention to slow down Red Bull and Max Verstappen is not what happens in a sport. Having said that, F1 is not only a sport, it's entertainment as well.
There has been a lot of work done in the background to prop the sport up to a level where it has entered different markets. Does that mean we see steps taken to slow down Red Bull? Who knows? But the data is surely a cause of concern in terms of the growth of the sport.