Formula 1, often regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport, has captured the hearts and minds of millions worldwide with its high-octane races and spellbinding track dramas. This exhilarating sport, which has long held massive appeal across Europe, Asia, and other parts of the globe, is still revving up its presence in the US. As the roaring engines, strategic races, and intense rivalries continue to unfold, the big question remains for Americans: Are you watching yet?
Revving Up Popularity
Although Formula 1 racing is a sensation on a global scale, in the vast sporting landscape of the US—where the Indy 500 and NASCAR rule the open-wheel racing scene—F1 was facing challenges breaking through. That is, until Liberty Media Inc., the American powerhouse behind SiriusXM and the Atlanta Braves MLB team, took the wheel in 2017. Their game-changer? A lucrative $75-90 million broadcasting agreement with ESPN, a stark contrast to the previous $5 million agreement.
A pivotal driving force behind F1’s recent stateside surge is the Netflix docu-series, “Drive to Survive.” The series peeled back the curtains on the adrenaline-packed world of F1. From intimate team strategies to dynamic driver personalities, the series gave Americans a pit lane pass to the sport. The proof’s in the numbers: a leap from 548,000 race viewers in 2018 to a whopping 1.4 million in 2022.
And the F1 craze in the US shows no sign of hitting the brakes. Hollywood’s taken notice, with Apple gearing up for an F1-themed movie starring Brad Pitt and a documentary spotlighting the legendary Lewis Hamilton. With such initiatives, F1 aims to cross the finish line in the American entertainment industry, mirroring the celebrity spectacle of the nation’s beloved basketball or football events.
America’s Racing Fever
This American embrace of F1 was bolstered further when the Miami Grand Prix made its debut in 2022. The maiden race at the Miami International Autodrome garnered a crowd of 230,000, with Max Verstappen clinching the top spot.
But that’s not all. America’s F1 calendar expanded with the introduction of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in 2023, providing fans with a thrilling race experience right through the iconic Las Vegas strip.
While the US leads in hosting the maximum Grand Prix events of any country, the horizon still holds vast untapped potential. The staggering $2.6 billion deal the NBA has with ESPN underscores the market’s enormity. Should Formula 1 continue to grow, increasing growth sponsorship allure would only heighten.
A past roadblock for F1’s US ascendance was the absence of American racers—the last was Scott Speed in 2007. But 2023 promises a shift, with American Logan Sargeant joining the grid in a Williams car. With F1’s American presence swelling, having a native at the helm could turbocharge the sport’s appeal further. Perhaps it won’t be long before the US witnesses one of its own celebrating on the podium.
A Global Phenomenon
As a cornerstone of the global sports scene, Formula 1 races across screens in over 170 territories, boasting an average viewership of 71+ million fans for every heart-pounding race.
The rising tide of F1 mania isn’t limited to American shores. Regions like Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East have pitched in significantly to the sport’s ascendancy.
It’s undeniable that the razzle-dazzle of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” or the allure of the Miami Grand Prix boosted F1’s appeal. Yet, its widespread admiration is anchored in a decade-long transformation. What once was primarily a European indulgence centered on elite racers and engineering buffs has evolved into an electrifying spectacle combining race fervor, vivid aesthetics, pulsating music, and sheer adrenaline. With improved races, avant-garde cars, streamlined rules, and an expansive race calendar, F1 has seamlessly shifted gears to the global stage.
In essence, Formula 1 is not just accelerating—it’s gunning for pole position on the global sports stage, with aspirations to captivate even more enthusiasts in the coming season. If you’re not yet watching, perhaps it’s time to check out a race.
Josh is the owner and lead writer at Daily Wisely. His career has taken him from finance to blogging, and now shares his insights with readers of Daily Wisely.
Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh has over 15 years of experience on Wall Street, and currently shares his financial expertise in investing, wealth management, markets, taxes, real estate, and personal finance on his other website, Top Dollar Investor.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business.