Fri, 21 Oct 2022 08:09:00 GMT
In the last 12 months, Formula 1 has been the fastest-growing sports league in the world - prompted largely by the immense success of Netflix’s series ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’. Spreading the popularity of the sport further than ever before, new fans and old from around the globe are tuning in for the 2022 season, which continues this weekend with the United States Grand Prix.
On Sunday, October 23, Austin will play host to thousands of fans and a grid of determined drivers - raring to earn points for their teams and impress an audience of millions worldwide. Traditionally, F1 has not been a popular sport with audiences in the US, attributed mainly to the existing popularity of other motorsports in the States, like NASCAR and IndyCar, as well as the lack of American teams and drivers to root for - not to mention the broadcast times for the international races that are unfavourable to US timezones.
Omnicom Advertising Collective agency, The Marketing Arm (TMA), has been involved with Formula 1 racing for over a decade, managing and negotiating marketing partnerships for multiple clients, including Citrix, AT&T, and Monster. With F1 interest on the rise in the US, Catherine Hall, marketing and sponsorship consultant at TMA, has decided to utilise TMA’s decade of experience and insight with F1 to create an overview of what to expect from this year’s US Grand Prix.
Read her thoughts and expectations for this weekend’s event and the future of F1 in the US below.
The popularity of Formula 1 is skyrocketing, in large part due to Netflix’s hit docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’ as well as ESPN bringing races back to their lineup. F1 event US viewership increased by 58% last season and ‘Drive to Survive’ has played up the conflicts and tensions between Formula 1 personalities over the past four seasons. In terms of follower growth [social media], Formula 1 was the fastest-growing major sports league on the planet in 2021, according to the FIA.
Fueled by the popularity of ‘Drive to Survive’, we expect record crowds will be making their way to COTA (Circuit of the Americas) for the US Grand Prix weekend and more screens across America will be tuned in than ever before – because everything’s bigger in Texas. We also expect lots of famous faces will be making their way to Austin, from pro athletes to actors to recording artists. This sport has long been loved by the rich and famous but now more than ever are we likely to see the A-List in Austin.
COTA was the first circuit in the US purpose-built for Formula 1 and it has been dubbed one of the great modern racetracks. Designed by renowned F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke, inspiration for COTA was taken from other circuits around the world. High elevation and a blind entry set COTA apart: Turn one is the track’s signature corner and one of the best first corners on the calendar. It’s the highest point on the track with a steep uphill approach and a blind entry – it’s a perfect place for overtaking because the uphill braking zone aids late braking. Turn one is reached via a short 30.9m climb from the track’s lowest point, which is situated between Turns 19 and 20.
Formula 1 drivers are celebrated like European football stars. Drivers to watch include:
Red Bull Racing
- Max Verstappen - 2x World Champion
- Sergio Perez - currently second place in drivers standings after a victory in Singapore and taking second in Japan
- Charles Leclerc - third in drivers standings
- Lewis Hamilton - fan favourite, 7x World Champion, 6x US Grand Prix Winner
- Sebastian Vettel - 4x World Champion, retiring at the end of the season
- Daniel Riccardo - another fan favourite, not currently signed for next season, could be one of his final races.
Lewis Hamilton nearly won his seventh US Grand Prix in 2021, but he was edged out by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Verstappen went on to also win last year’s World Championship after overtaking Hamilton for a victory at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP - the last race of the season, which came down to the final lap and a controversial call from the race director. Many feel Hamilton was robbed by the decision. Verstappen clinched this year’s World Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, but eyes will still be on that rivalry due to past events.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc holds the record for the fastest lap at COTA back in 2019 (1:36.169). And with Red Bull and Ferrari having won every race this year, there are important team points at play at COTA this Sunday. This should be another team and driver rivalry to watch. Verstappen has won 12 Grand Prix this season, which is already two more than last year. With four races remaining in 2022, he has a chance to eclipse the all-time record of 13 wins in a season, held jointly by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen was the youngest driver to ever win an F1 race at 2016’s Spanish Grand Prix, aged just 18 - and he’s the youngest to ever win a championship.
The race for second in the World Championship this season will be a fight to the finish between Leclerc and Perez, so that’s another rivalry to keep your eyes on as we finish out this season.
The fusion of sport and technology is a perfect fit for B2B tech brands and can be a great awareness play for brands in novel and disruptive categories such as crypto. For mature brands in categories that do not organically inspire positive sentiment or strong loyalty, F1 provides a proven way to connect with a passionate and global fan base. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting and timely opportunity for high-rolling, excitement-seeking brands.
New fans are bringing a different profile to the sport, including Hispanic fans and younger fans (under 34). With Austin, Miami, and Vegas, in addition to Mexico City and Montreal, North America will host about a fifth of the 2023 race schedule. Formula 1 races are comparable to a Super Bowl in terms of celebrity attendance, economic activity in the host city, and entertainment value. The inaugural Miami Grand Prix in May 2022 drew record crowds and TV ratings, with 240K attendees and an average viewership of 2.6 million – the largest audience for a live F1 telecast ever on U.S. television. Looking ahead, in November 2023, the U.S. gets its third race on the F1 calendar with the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The unique 3.8-mile street track will weave down The Strip, only fueling excitement around the sport in America.