NOT JUST NETFLIX: How F1 Really Managed to Win Over the American Audience

Published 10/28/2021, 7:08 AM EDT


The United States welcomed F1 with open arms last weekend at the Circuit of The Americas, which was quite a bit unusual.

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It is a known fact F1 never embraced much recognition from the American fans, who were rather attached to other US-born racing leagues like NASCAR and IndyCar. Hence, it certainly looked like F1 might not stand a chance against such highly famous competitive series.

However, the 2021 United States Grand Prix witnessed an entirely different atmosphere, with fans swarming into the circuit in hundreds of thousands of numbers. The final attendance peaked at a never-seen-before high of over 400,000.

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Oct 24, 2021; Austin, TX, USA; A view of the military flyover before the start of the United States Grand Prix Race at Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So, what caused this massive turnaround in the country? Well, one of the prime reasons is the Netflix documentary series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive. 3 seasons have gone by, and F1’s popularity is still on the rise.

But it wouldn’t be reasonable to shower all of the credits to Netflix, and rather look at the efforts Formula 1 did. Sportico author, Jacob Feldman, offered an outlook as to how F1’s fame blew up around the United States, especially amidst the presence of other top-class sporting leagues like the NBA and NFL.

Reasons behind the rising fame of F1 in the US

The top-most reason behind the rise of F1 around the US is their active social media presence. Ever since Liberty Media took over the functionality of the series, there were a lot of onboarding, as well as, other on-track and off-track videos, often popping up on either the official F1 page or the teams’ page.

There is also the fact that F1 restricts a season to 22 races, which makes it easier for the sport to celebrate each of the races as a typical ‘Super Bowl’ evening. Then there’s the better production of each race in terms of telecasting, including interesting camera angles.

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Also, F1 let ESPN broadcast the racing events for free despite unleashing their own streaming platform, F1 TV. And the next on the list is the rule tweaks that have consequently brought teams much closer, inducing an unpredictability over the results.

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Finally, the rivalry! F1 desperately needed a rivalry. A title fight grew out of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, and the marketing team pounced on it, churning every bit of story out of the two drivers. Overall, the stage is set for F1’s expansion around the US. So, in time, will F1 turn out to be the most famous sport in the country?

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Rohit Kumar

1451 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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