Considered by many as a major sport but yet radicated in Europe, Formula 1 has sometimes struggled to obtain the deserved credit for being the biggest annual global sport. However, today, there are no doubts about it and Formula 1 is on for global dominance.
The sport has registered significant rises in season cumulative audience in several markets, including many of F1's biggest markets: USA (+58% YoY), France (+48% YoY), Italy (+40% YoY) and the UK (+39% YoY).
It has been the growth in the USA, particularly, that created a positive domino effect for Formula 1.
The series has been present in and out of the USA for decades and since 2012 has always had a US race, but it is now with several races taking place in the States that it is leveraging the most its presence in the market.
Next year the first US race will be in Miami on the 7th of May with Austin (Texas) following on the 22nd of October and the highly-anticipated Las Vegas GP on the 18th of November. Having three races in the USA and others in North and Central America (Canada and Mexico) gives American brands a fantastic opportunity to activate partnerships and engage multiple times with their target audience. In a few words, Formula 1 is now a very effective marketing tool also for brands only focused on the Americas.
But how Formula 1 has finally broken into the United States? First of all, Formula 1 is essentially now an American company which stated from the very beginning how the USA would have been crucial for the expansion of the sport, so the focus and resources have been efficiently directed towards this goal.
The broadcasting times have been adjusted to fit better into the US channels' programming schedule which opened up opportunities for wider broadcasting deals. On top of that, thanks to Netflix's "Drive to Survive" series, Formula 1 has been able to engage, and yet educate, the American audience.
But nothing would have happened if the product itself, Formula 1, did not have become more attractive and richer in adrenaline than the previous years. In fact, a new generation of young drivers able to talk to fans in the right way while deploying great performance on track was essential to Formula 1 expansion in the USA. Last but not least, after years of Mercedes dominance, the sport provided again great battles between several teams and drivers.
Having said that, how Formula 1 is performing in other markets? It is growing, simple as that: the biggest market in terms of unique viewers is China (70.8m unique viewers in 2021, +13% vs 2020), but there are also significant YoY gains in Spain (+272%), and Russia (+129%).
China, unfortunately, will not host again the Formula 1 race in 2023 because of COVID but the list of countries willing to replace it seems pretty long. However, apart from replacing China, there are other countries that knock on the Formula 1 door, like South Africa and countries that have just arrived in the sport and already going for long-term renewals like Qatar.
As a motorsport marketing agency, we might be biased when explaining to a brand why investing in Formula 1 is the greatest marketing opportunity right now, but those facts do not lie.
The Formula 1 global dominance is real and the race for countries, corporations and brands to be part of it is definitely on.