F1, so much attention, so much money
It is often said that moments of crisis are the best for creating new opportunities. What better example than Formula 1, which had to halt its on-track activities for months in 2020 due to the pandemic and saw its popularity dramatically increase during that time thanks to the Netflix series dedicated to the sport, ‘Drive to Survive.’
Often criticized and never too loved by the drivers, the streaming product provided by the American broadcaster was a real driver to attract new viewers, especially in the United States. Liberty Media was eagerly waiting for this and masterfully leveraged this interest, increasing the number of races in the United States from one to three in just a few years, followed by a rain of dollars from sponsors to the teams. Formula 1 is going through a real golden age, even without providing a memorable on-track spectacle – given that Red Bull has won 37 of the last 41 races, with 33 of them won by Max Verstappen alone.
Alex Wurz reflects on the F1 boom
Alex Wurz, president of the Grand Prix Driver Association and former podium finisher with Benetton, McLaren, and Williams, shared his perspective on the surge of interest in Formula 1 with Motorsport Magazin: “The great popularity is due to marketing, not changes to the sporting regulations. During Covid, people had to stay at home, and we reached them through Netflix and social media. Liberty Media must be careful not to put too much pressure on the system. The number of spectators is declining for all sports, although F1 is experiencing a smaller decline compared to others.” – he pointed out.
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The Austrian then observed: “But while TV is declining, attendance at traditional circuits is huge, even if the live event appetite from the post-Covid wave has returned to normal levels. Success was not given by the sport or sporting regulations but by the way we attracted new fans. We all agree that it’s fantastic to see three drivers fighting for a GP a few laps from the end, but we don’t have to forcibly emphasize the Hollywood aspect of races. We need to present our sport in an authentic and appropriate way,” concluded Alex Wurz.