The student news site of Casa Grande High School

The Casa Revista

The student news site of Casa Grande High School

The Casa Revista

The student news site of Casa Grande High School

The Casa Revista

Formula One: How a European Sport Became a US Phenomenon

Often referred to as the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One racing has always had a loyal following throughout the world. Having multiple drivers representing different countries, it has been easy for a multitude of fans to become engaged with watching the Grand Prixs. Only recently, however, has the sport begun to gain traction in the United States.

Formula One, also known as F1, began its breakthrough in 2016 when it was purchased by Liberty Media for $4.4 billion. Liberty is an American media company that is also in charge of Sirius XM and, by the end of 2024, Dorna Sports. The company began a complete modernization of the sport, focusing more on racers and teams. They teamed up with multiple different media organizations to extend F1’s reach in other markets. 

One of these organizations was Netflix and the so-called ‘Netflix Effect’ has also played a part in F1’s skyrocketing popularity. The ‘Drive To Survive’ series, released in 2019, provides a behind the scenes look at what happens on and off the track. At first, some members of the F1 community had negative reactions to the show, saying that it was overly dramatized and theatrical. Despite the initially poor reviews, the series found praise for revealing a previously unseen side of the sport and became a hit during 2020 as the second season came out weeks before lockdown began. 

RB’s Daniel Ricciardo

While some drivers decided to opt out of participating in ‘Drive To Survive’ interviews, those that opted in saw a huge increase in their personal popularity. RB’s Daniel Ricciardo is the best example of this. The Australian, known for his vibrant personality and skill as a driver, was the first to buy into the idea of the series and shaped the show to what it is today. He had an Instagram following of 1.2 million in 2018, which increased to 3.7 million by 2020. Seeing Ricciardo’s success, teams that were originally hesitant, namely Ferrari and Mercedes, leaped at the chance to boost their traction with fans.

The show is also credited with boosting viewership for Formula One Grand Prix’s, increasing ticket sales and sponsorships, and attracting a younger and more diverse audience. Data also shows a surge in popularity. Women make up 40% of F1’s global fanbase, which is far more from just 8% in 2017. With a 173% increase in online viewers and a 97% increase in broadcast viewership, the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the most watched sporting event of that year. 

Another reason for the sudden spark in popularity comes from social media. F1 was the second fastest growing sport on social media in 2020, with total fan engagement increasing by 99%. Influencers contribute by creating content to catch the interest of younger viewers and many creative agencies were generated to show a more human side of motorsports. 

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris

Some F1 teams have become their own content creators. McLaren has a YouTube series featuring their two drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, titled “McLaren Unboxed” that gains almost 300,000 views every week. Several drivers, like Mercedes’ George Russell and Williams’ Alexander Albon, would stream on Twitch during the pandemic, and others currently post short videos to their personal TikTok accounts. This increased fan interaction has influenced the growth of a younger audience for the sport.

The 2024 F1 season is currently 1/3 of the way done, with the most recent race being the famous Monaco Grand Prix. The race was record breaking in more than one way, as it was won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, making him only the second Monégasque driver to win his home race. American viewership also broke records with the race becoming the third largest television audience for a F1 race, having a 7% increase in viewers compared to last year’s Grand Prix. As more and more fans join everyday, Formula One’s rise in popularity hasn’t appeared to show any signs of slowing.

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