Bringing F1 to The American Audience

Linley Fletcher ’26 in Sports | October 27, 2023

          Formula One (F1) is the world’s most popular motorsporting organization, with races taking place in over 14 countries across 4 continents across the world. Each race is viewed by millions of people globally, but in the United States F1 is greatly overshadowed by most other Major League sports, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB). TheUnited Statesalso has its own, more popular motorsport organization, NASCAR, so why would there be any reason to pay any attention to F1 as an American? 

          For one, F1 is in the process of increasing American appeal towards F1. Since Liberty Media’s purchase of F1 in 2018, viewership has greatly increased within the United States from around 500,000 viewers  to 1.4 million per race. Additionally, three of this season’s Grands Prix take place in American cities: Miami, Austin, and the new street circuit in Las Vegas scheduled later this year. One team, Moneygram Haas, is based in the States, and the current F1 grid has one American driver, Logan Sargeant, who scored points at this past weekend’s.United States Grand Prix in Austin. 

          In 2019, F1 also created a docuseries on Netflix called Drive to Survive. Though the series tends to exaggerate the drama between drivers and teams, it is a great watch for anyone who wants to understand the general premise of F1 racing. Drive to Survive has greatly aided the increase of F1 viewership in the United States. When season four of Drive to Survive was released, it became the most-watched show on Netflix in 33 countries, including the United States. In fact, The New York Times reported that more than one-third of last year’s spectators at the Austin Grand Prix listed Drive to Survive as their reason for attending.

          Furthermore, American viewership of competing motorsport organizations, such as NASCAR, are stagnating. On the other hand, F1’s American viewership is only going up. Many NASCAR races have seen minimal increase in viewership, such as the Kansas Cup Series only having a 0.01% viewership increase. Alternatively F1 has been setting  new viewership milestones, with 2022’s Miami race garnering a record breaking 2.6 million viewers. F1 also upholds a reputation of elegance, with the organization calling themselves “the pinnacle of motorsport,” whereas NASCAR is often regarded as a more rugged and tough motorsport. F1 also maintains an advantage over NASCAR in the fact that F1 is internationally prestigious and by far the more popular motorsport worldwide. 

          Additionally, NASCAR’s attempts to broaden its appeal in a similar manner to F1 proved inneffective, as they were reprimanded for alienating their main fandom. By trying to broaden their appeal, NASCAR seems to have lost consistent viewers in the United States, whereas the number of consistent F1 viewers in the United States continues to rise. All in all, F1 is still up and coming in the United States, and it should be something to look out for in the future if you are not a fan already.