After adding 70m fans, Formula 1 seems to be experiencing a slide in popularity and growth. After it’s high-water mark in 2022, the sport seems to be cooling off and a new report from Buzz Radar suggests it’s the dominance of Red Bull and Max Verstappen to blame.
The report says, “The data comparison between 2022 and 2023 revealed significant drops in the overall mentions of F1, along with dismal numbers in the growth of new followers of high-profile accounts.
“The reach of F1-related content across various social platforms has also receded, in stark contrast to the steady progress observed yearly before. But, the declining numbers are only one part of the story.
“The social data from 2023 also offered insight into a fundamental shift in conversation about F1: a noticeable upswing in the use of negative adjectives associated with the sport.
“Words like ‘boring’ and ‘annoying’ are now becoming high-frequency descriptors, replacing erstwhile positive words like ‘interesting’ and ‘exciting’.”
The challenge here, of course, is that F1 has had this debate for decades. Make a more spec series with equitable performance between teams or stick to its core DNA of bespoke cars around a set of regulations up for interpretation which can breed serious performance deltas right after a regulation change?
F1 has always remained in the camp of “just say no to spec series” but today’s new F1 fan is less interested and would prefer close racing each weekend and a close championship each year according to the report. To achieve that, there would have to be significant constructs and tight regulations leading to an entertainment-heavy series which many might argue removes much of the “sport” from the racing series.
F1 faces a conundrum of sorts. Do we remain true to the history of the sport or seek to retain all the new F1 sports fans we harvested during the pandemic?
F1’s big excitement in the past was watching one team topple another team after their dominance of the sport. For new fans, that doesn’t seem appealing to them. We’ve seen that with Mercedes besting Red Bull who bested Renault who bested Ferrari and now Red Bull is beating Mercedes. These happen but perhaps not with the frequency or speed new fans would prefer.
I’ve often asked where all the ire was for eight years as Mercedes beat the stuffing out of the entire field but somehow, Red Bull winning three years is an anathema and driving you from the sport? No one had an issue with Mercedes dominance? Their dominance was twice as long as Red Bull’s previous dominance and nearly twice as long as Ferrari’s dominance when everyone was tired of Michael Schumacher ”winning everything”.
Dynasties are difficult in all sports but F1 has taken a big hit in social media circles. However, I don’t think it’s a dynasty that’s to blame, I think it is the type of COVID lock down-fueled Drive to Survive sports fan F1 acquired. Some will make the transition to become anoraks, others will not. That’s ok. I used to watch Hockey and NASCAR religiously, I don’t anymore. Things change. People go through different seasons of life.
F1 is riding the wave, of course, but it will eventually realize that it was a brief spike born from the perfect storm of Drive to Survive and the pandemic or they will could change F1 to make it a clown show to retain casual sports fans. They may try to run down the middle of the street on this one and that’s not been a successful recipe either.
What do you think F1 should do? How should they remain tall their new fans? Should they try to retain them at all costs or let their product speak for itself and worry about the fans left standing after the culling of the herd?
Buzz Radar Report (you can read it here.)
Download Report here: