F1’s downward slide blamed on Red Bull dominance

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.)

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Buzz Radar F1 Report

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John Simonds

Todd, I started watching F1 in the late 60’s. One has to understand it’s complexities to truly be a fan. I never thought that the Drive to Survive crowd would last. They are social media butterflies that will flit from whatever is popular to the next hotspot. They don’t understand it being the pinnacle of technology and it’s position in racing. The same can be said for WEC. People either understand 24 hour races, or they don’t. I loved the Ferrari/Schumi years. I couldn’t wait to hear the Italian National Anthem when they won. It was tradition. I loved the… Read more »

Fred

I suspect what we have here is “fair weather” fans. It’s common in baseball. And, maybe I’m too old, but I don’t regard social media as any measure of real success.

peter

Interesting article and stats. They match, pretty much, the Nielson ratings (in as much as Netflix release theirs). My comments, to musddy the waters here: Let’s face it: Max is not charismatic. Talented and bullish, certainly. Good on camera, entertaining as a person? Not at all. Or perhaps not coached on why that is important in the trade he’s in. As it is, he clearly doesn’t care about F1 beyond his own performance (as a champion that’s perhaps normal, but shortsighted — I blame daddy, just as Lewis’ daddy was to blame in his early F1 career). The NFL understood,… Read more »

charlie w

When I first saw the headlines, I dismissed it all as click-bait and I still believe that. Didn’t we have the same responses during LH’s dominant years recently? The saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. I don’t believe a drop in social media is going to pop F1’s expanding bubble of popularity.

Fabio

The problem (as we all know) with placating to the excitement monster, is that it’s never ending, never enough overtakes, or pit stops, or crashes or winner etc…
Much like with going down the road of a spec series, we have ‘standardised tyres’, but then what? brakes? suspension? chassis? etc… where do you draw the line?

Xean Drury

Even The Simpsons don’t have the ratings it once did. F1 can either be grateful and accept that currently they’re enjoying a great moment in the sunshine, and realize that growth is not exponential, or they can just jump the shark and be done with it.

Sprints already make me throw up in my mouth a little bit.