In Formula1, Marketing Sportivo, Motorsports

We are often asked if this is the right time to invest in Formula 1 and our answer goes always like this: it is always the right time to invest in Formula 1, now more than ever. Today we also have a series of new and updated data and information providing even more strength to our indications and beliefs.

Formula 1 has recently released a new global fans survey, conducted by Nielsen Sport and in collaboration with Motorsport Network, that analyzes fans and what they think of the sport. The information they have collected is really interesting and meaningful, especially for the sports marketing industry.

“We are hugely grateful for all the fans that have given their time to share their views in this huge survey. Their views are very valuable to us, and we are extremely pleased with what we have seen in the results. I also want to thank Motorsport Network and Nielsen Sports for the incredible job they have done,” said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1.

“We are privileged as a sport to be truly international, racing in continents and countries around the world with a global fan base. We reach every corner of the globe through our events, tv broadcast and social media and media content. This is a blessing – to have such a platform – but it is also a responsibility. We must protect what we have, grow it, reach more fans, and ensure those blessings remain and get stronger.”

We will share with us some of the main insights that come out from this incredible survey. If you’d like to dig deep into it and read everything, just click the link at the end of this post.

Let’s start from the beginning: the characteristics of this important survey.

  • It is the largest sample ever analyzed: 167,302 responses
  • The questionnaire was created and translated into 15 languages
  • Greater geographical spread: responses came from 187 countries, with a significant increase in response in Asia, the Middle East and Africa
  • The youngest sample ever recorded: 34% of respondents <24/63% <34 / Average age 32 years 0 m
  • The highest female participation ever: 18.3% of the total sample, up 10% from 2017, over 30,000 more.
  • F1 attracts and thrills new fans with 34% following the sport for <5 years, up from 12% in 2017

In our articles and with our customers and prospects we always talk about the values associated with the different sports disciplines. Values are essential in every sport sponsorship deal; it is on those values that companies and brands can find themselves and therefore build their marketing plans and communication campaigns.

So, to the big question: how do fans see Formula 1? How do they identify it in terms of values?

  • The 5 best attributes that emerge are: exciting, technological, expensive, competitive, and entertaining; it is the first time that “entertaining” enters the top 5 adjectives.
  • A 50% improvement in F1 “health” compared to 2017: a growing positive sentiment from fans who recognize that F1 offers the right balance between sport and entertainment
  • Once again, the need to attract new fans emerges, but in a reduced way compared to 2017
  • The four fundamental GPs for all fans, regardless of age: Monza, Spa, Silverstone, and Monaco

How do fans of 2021 watch Formula 1?

  • Specialized F1 websites and Pay TV are the most popular destination for finding content, especially among fans aged 35 and over
  • Free-to-air F1 TV viewing decreases (56%) from 2017
  • Twitter continues to be the most used social platform in first place, closely followed by Instagram, which is the number 1 most used channel among 16-24 year old. Facebook has decreased
  • Most of the respondents (85%) watch more than 13 GPs per season.
  • Over 85% of fans watch the full race content from lights to flag, no induced drop in vision among the younger crowd
  • The F1 strategy, as well as that of the teams and drivers, of engaging a new audience via social and digital media is definitely paying off.
  • Great success of the Netflix series “Drive to Survive: the behind the scenes of F1 has opened the doors to a new, younger and more diverse audience, making the sport more accessible.
  • Interaction with fans by sharing content via social media works: fans are looking for content offered by F1, teams and drivers, but also independent multimedia platforms.

And the drivers? Who are the fan favorites?

  • Max Verstappen is the most popular F1 driver, closely followed by Lando Norris and in third position we have the super champion Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen ranked nr.1 in the United States, Japan and the Netherlands with Hamilton ranked nr.1 in the United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada
  • Max is very popular in the 25-45 age group, Lando Norris has a strong support between women and fans aged 16-24.
  • Lewis scores strong in the 45+ age group
  • Daniel Ricciardo is fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel in fifth place
  • The group of young F1 talents looks very promising: Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Pierre Gasly are all highly regarded, and this is a very good sign for the category.

And the teams? Ferrari will be the most loved and followed team, no doubts about that…

But, no. McLaren drivers shift the balance sharply in favor of their team: nearly 30% of respondents prefer McLaren to other teams. And honestly, it is not surprising: the McLaren drivers are very good at all promotional activities, they are super active on social media, they have an incredible, positive, sunny image. And this makes the difference. Then add a team that knows how to use them at their best and that organizes an incredible series of promotional activities.

Red Bull Racing is second and thanks to the strong popularity of its driver, Ferrari only in third place. In the research you will then find the data and the feeling towards the regulations, but we leave it to the most passionate of you out there.

In general, a truly interesting and useful survey, which once again demonstrates how Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world. We strongly believe, as sports marketing experts, that Formula 1 is an incredible platform to invest in and to develop marketing and communication activities that can effectively engage the target audience.

If you’d like to know more about the sponsorship opportunities in Formula 1 just give us a shout. If you’d like to read the data in depth, you can find them here.

Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Sport has always been my passion and I was lucky enough to be able to make it my job too. Graduated in Foreign Languages and Literatures, with a Master in Marketing and Communication, for 20 years I have been offering consultancy to companies wishing to use sport as a marketing and communication tool to better engage with their target and reach their objectives. Without sport, life is boring.
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