In Formula 1, Marketing Sportivo, Motorsports

We are often asked if it is the right time to invest in Formula 1 and our answer is this: it is always the right time to invest in Formula 1, and now more than ever, and we tell why.

Today we also have a super up-to-date set of data and information that give even more strength to our directions. In fact, Formula 1 has very recently released an international survey, conducted by Nielsen Sport and in collaboration with Motorsport Network, that analyzes fans and what they think about Formula 1.

The information they have gathered is interesting and meaningful, especially for those who do our work and advise companies.

“We are extremely grateful to all the fans who took the time to share their opinions in this huge survey. Their opinions are very valuable to us, and we are extremely satisfied with what we have seen in the results. I also want to thank Motorsport Network and Nielsen Sports for their incredible work.”

“The survey results show that we are doing the right things and will continue to focus on creating exciting content and entertainment on and off the track, which is what all our fans want. We are excited about our future, and we know our fans are, too,” said Stefano Domenicali, president and CEO of Formula 1.

Below are a number of key points.

Let’s start from the beginning; the characteristics of this important research.

  • Largest sample ever analyzed: 167,302 responses
  • The questionnaire was created and translated into 15 languages
  • Increased geographical spread: responses came from 187 countries, with a significant increase in response in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa
  • Youngest sample ever recorded – 34% of respondents < 24/63% < 34 / Average age 32 years old
  • Highest female participation ever-18.3 percent of the total sample, up 10 percent from 2017, more than 30,000 more.
  • F1 attracts and enthuses new fans with 34% following the sport for <5 years, up from 12% in 2017

In our articles and with our clients and prospects we always talk about the values associated with various sports. Values are key, because it is on these that companies and brands can build their marketing plans and communication campaigns.

How do fans view Formula 1? How do they identify it in terms of values?

  • The top 5 attributes that emerge are: exciting, technological, expensive, competitive, and fun; this is the first time “fun” has entered the top 5 adjectives.
  • A 50 percent more improvement on F1’s “health” than in 2017-a growing positive sentiment from fans who recognize that F1 offers the right balance of sports and entertainment
  • The need to attract new fans emerges again this time, but in a reduced way compared to 2017
  • The four key GPs for all fans, regardless of age: Monza, Spa, Silverstone and Monaco

How do fans in 2021 watch Formula 1?

  • Specialized F1 websites and Pay TV are the most used destination to find content, especially among fans 35 and older
  • Free-to-air TV viewing decreases (56%) from 2017
  • Twitter continues to be the #1 most used social platform, followed closely by Instagram, which is the #1 most used channel among 16-24 year olds. Facebook usage has declined
  • Most respondents (85 percent) watch more than 13 GPs per season.
  • Over 85% of fans watch the full content of the race, from the traffic lights to the flag, no decline on viewing duration among younger audiences
  • F1’s strategy, as well as that of the teams and drivers, of engaging new audiences through social and digital media is working.
  • Big hit Netflix series“Drive to Survive” the behind-the-scenes F1 has opened the door to a new, younger and more diverse audience, making the sport more accessible.
  • Interaction with fans by sharing content via social media works: fans want content offered by F1, teams and drivers, but also by independent media platforms

What about the drivers? Who are the public’s favorites?

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

What about the teams? Certainly Ferrari will be the most loved and followed team…

But no. McLaren drivers clearly shift the balance in favor of their team: nearly 30 percent of respondents prefer McLaren to other teams. And frankly, this is not surprising: McLaren drivers are great at all promotional activities, they are super active on social media, they have an incredible, positive, sunny image. And that makes all the difference. Then put in a team that knows how to use them to their best advantage and organizes an incredible array of promotional activities, and you have bingo.

Red Bull Racing is second and enjoys the strong popularity of its driver, Ferrari only in third place.

In the research you will then find the data and feeling toward the regulations, we leave that to the more passionate.

All in all, a really interesting and useful research, showing once again that Formula 1 is one of the most advanced sports in the world on various aspects. In the last few years, under the elm of Liberty Media, it managed to attract younger fans. The Netflix series “Drive to survive” was instrumental in reaching a new and never touched before younger public, and the lower average age of the viewers is well reflected in the research.

From the perspective of marketing and sponsorships, for us Formula 1 proves to be an incredible platform on which to invest and develop marketing and communication activities that can effectively engage the target audience. If you want to read the data in depth you can find it here. However, if you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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