Drive to thrive! Formula One is booming with Netflix attracting new fans

aspects of the Covid trips were a blessing. Other parts were hell: the extravagant form filling and, in my case, over 250 Covid tests, mostly timed to meet the jurisdictions he was traveling to.

Sometimes three tests a day, up the nose or spitting into tubes, occasionally administered by a burly Russian who tended to your nostrils like he was plowing a field. Then there was the hope that a positive result would not mean spending Christmas in Abu Dhabi.

But the happy part was empty airports, no queues at security, and a big chunk of a plane to yourself. This is how Formula One racing was going in 2020. Compare and contrast with 2022.

Drive to Survive has been one of Netflix's biggest hits since it started in 2019 and has now brought more people into the sport.

Drive to Survive has been one of Netflix’s biggest hits since it started in 2019 and has now brought more people into the sport.

Because Formula One is in the grip of a boom like never before. Queues at airports are back to normal, and you can barely find a hotel room to stay as the biggest crowds the sport has ever seen populate every race venue.

Take the next round in Belgium at the end of the month. Can you find digs within 15 miles of the Spa track? Almost impossible and, if you stick to a late cancellation, it’s so expensive that you need a mortgage advisor on hand.

Some acts. In the first 11 of the 13 races, using the latest figures collected, a total of 2,481,031 people attended the races, 22 per cent more than the first 11 races of 2019, the latest covid-free yardstick. The average television audience for the main sessions on Saturday and Sunday increased 11 percent over the 2021 figures.

US TV viewership has accelerated to 39 per cent beyond the 2018 figure. Silverstone welcomed 401,000 fans over the weekend compared to 345,694 in 2019; Melbourne was 420,000 against 351,000.

Even if we raise an eyebrow at the perfectly rounded numbers provided by the Formula One Group, anecdotal evidence greatly supports the overall push.

What’s happening? “There are three things Chase Carey got right,” Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said of the mustachioed American who took control of the sport from Bernie Ecclestone in his purchase of Liberty Media in 2017 before handing control over to Stefano Domenicali. last year.

First, start the season in lockdown, as the first international sport to do so. Second, the budget cap, which has allowed smaller teams to compete and thrive. Third, Netflix. Can you argue with those three?

Even as a critic of Carey at one point, in part because he was allergic to journalists, I can’t.

Melbourne also saw a high volume of fans: 420,000 vs. 351,000 previously.

Melbourne also saw a high volume of fans: 420,000 vs. 351,000 previously.

Netflix and the series Drive to Survive have brought the sport to new audiences. One younger (the average age fell from 39 to 37 in 2017) and another more female (40%, eight percentage points more than in 2017). Now you see a girl in her teens going to races with her father.

Netflix has shown all the drama behind the scenes. It’s gone too fast at times, but it’s largely rooted in authenticity.

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It is an echo of what Ecclestone, on whose shoulders the new Guardians stand, did in another age. In his case, he put F1 on TV.

The other main reason for the boom is the drama of the last season: Max Verstappen vs. Lewis Hamilton and the shenanigans of the last few days. This season has been spirited, with some good races and a couple of big crashes, even if we’ve been denied the Max-Lewis rematch for now. Maybe next year.

Netflix has brought the sport to new audiences.  One younger (median age dropped from 39 to 37 in 2017) and one more female (40%, up eight percentage points from 2017)

Netflix has brought the sport to new audiences. One younger (median age dropped from 39 to 37 in 2017) and one more female (40%, up eight percentage points from 2017)

Then there is America, which has been at least half cracked. The existing Austin career is flourishing. This year’s new Miami extravaganza was a huge success, complete with his dazzling cast. Las Vegas joins the list next year.

However, a balance must be struck, as the old meets the new. This month’s race at Spa may be the last held in Belgium if plans to return to South Africa by 2023 are good (50/50). Monaco, of all places, is in for a semi-worrying renegotiation. That should stick around, even if the Automobile Club blazers need to adapt.

But for now he is mostly good in F1. If not at airport security.

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