The Growing Popularity of F1

Formula 1 is riding the crest of a wave; the nail-biting climax to last season’s Drivers Championship further capitalising on the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive in bringing new fans into the sport. So, what’s behind this renaissance, and how will the sport look to build on this momentum? F1 has enjoyed continuing global expansion into new markets, and a modified digital-first approach is enticing new brands to partner with rights holders across the series.

These topics were discussed further in our latest webinar hosted by Scott Branch, Group Business Director. The esteemed panel featured Chloe Targett-Adams – Global Director of Race Promotion & Hospitality, Formula 1, Dhaval Ponda – VP & Global Head, Media & Entertainment Business, Tata Communications, Kate Dalton – Head of Brand Strategy, Aston Martin F1 Team and Andrew van de Burgt – COO & Founder, The Race Media.

Below is a summary of the five key topics within the session. Alternatively, you can watch a recording of the webinar here.

Global Expansion

As Miami made its debut this earlier this year and with Las Vegas set to feature for the first time in 2023, the F1 calendar continues its global expansion. Chloe Targett-Adams shared how F1 determines the locations of races, which is dependent on key factors such as widest reach and commercial value. “In terms of building out the race calendar there are a couple of key factors, not least the locations that give us that true global footprint”.

Little surprise, then, that Africa remains a primary target: “It’s the only continent we’re not in. It has an unbelievable demographic and population, and one that we’re very keen to bring more into the Formula 1 world.”

Dhaval Ponda reflected on the expansion from a brand perspective, discussing how the growing demand for media rights off the back of audience growth, is in turn necessitating an expansion in broadcast services. “Globally, the demand for content has really exploded. At Tata we have seen an increase in more than double of the events we do”.

Digital Revolution

The panel moved on to discuss how a revolution in F1’s digital strategy has allowed for new ways for fans to consume the sport. There are now many different channels in which customers can engage with F1, with a notable increase in video consumption.

Andrew van de Burgt used his popular fan channel, WTF1 to illustrate this change. “WTF1 has the lowest barrier of entry for new fans entering into the sport. Gen Z consume most of their media through TikTok, so that is the place for us to capture a new audience.”

The importance of Tiktok and user-generated content was shared by Kate Dalton, “within five minutes of sitting down with TikTok we realised we want the same things in terms of fandom, self-expression and creativity. TikTok creators are at the forefront of our marketing activity”.

F1 and Tech: A Match made in heaven

The next focus of the conversation was on technology, and why F1 provides the perfect opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership. Technology brands have an authentic and direct role to play in the performance of the teams and wider series. As Dhaval Ponda elucidated, “F1 gives us a brilliant platform to test and deploy new tech. If it works within F1, you will have achieved your perfect case study. The sport, which is defined by milliseconds, is a great way to tell a unique story about tech and innovation”.

Impact of Drive to Survive

Netflix’s popular show Drive to Survive is often credited with being the main reason for an increase in casual F1 fans, with a reported 100 million people tuning into seasons 1-3. The panel discussed how F1 can continue to engage these new fans beyond the show.

“It’s important to figure out the avenues to engage. Who are our new fans? How do we engage with them in their local language? And how do we drive them towards the main product, bet it attending a race or live experience” said Chloe-Targett Adams.

Kate Dalton praised the show and shared her hopes that: “Netflix continues to play its role as neutral storyteller and focus on the people who underpin F1.”

A Sustainable Future

The final subject discussed in the webinar looked at how Formula 1 has been firm in its commitment to improve its green credentials, going Net Zero by 2030. Chloe Targett-Adams shares some of the plans F1 has to achieve this goal: “Regionalising the calendar is something we’re looking towards; we are also working with various promoters on sustainability initiatives”.

Watch it back in full, here.