It is no secret that F1 is one of the fastest growing sports brands in the world. The 2021 F1 Global Fan Survey, conducted by Formula 1 and Motorsport Network in partnership with Nielsen Sports, brought to light how significantly F1 has grown over the years.
With a sample size of 167,000 fans across the globe, the survey showed a clear change in the average age of fans and the level of diversity among the people engaging with the sport. This has been indicated by the fact that the average age of survey takers in 2021 has dropped by four years compared to 2017 (36 years).
How the Liberty Media takeover changed the face of F1
The Liberty Media Corporation takeover in 2017 and the Netflix docu-series 'Drive to Survive' are to be credited for this growth. Considering that over 34% of the people who participated in the survey have only been following the sport for under five years, one can safely say a large chunk of F1 audiences today are new fans.
Liberty Media has taken a whole new approach, allowing fan engagement to rise exponentially with digital-first, social media driven campaigns. The Netflix docu-series brought in newer audiences from all over the globe, resulting in massive growth, especially in audiences from India, China, United States and Mexico. The series, which dives into the sport's exhilarating drama, gives the audience a chance to know the driver underneath the helmet - this has also resulted in an unmatched increase in engagement from female audiences.
Most drivers appreciate how the show has revolutionized levels of engagement with the sport. Here's what Red Bull F1's Sergio Perez had to say about it:
"First of all, I really respect Drive to Survive because what it has done for Formula 1 is tremendous. It’s really something I appreciate."
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton also credits the Netflix show for the growth in engagement in the sport. The Briton said:
"In this last couple of years it’s been the steepest rise and more and more people are talking about it, more and more people engaging."
The digital-first approach to marketing has made the sport extremely relevant, especially when it comes to bringing in younger audiences. The growing diversity among viewers is a very positive sign for the future of F1.