The Rise of Formula One in the United States

The Rise of Formula One in the United States

By Nicholas Miano, Assistant Reporter

Formula One (F1) is a global auto racing organization, beginning in Europe after World War II. Lasting from March to December, the F1 season comprises of twenty races, each circuit located in different countries. There are currently ten teams in F1, which include: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Apline, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin, Williams, Alfa Romeo Racing, and the Haas F1 Team. Each team has two drivers, thus two cars.  Points are rewarded for the drivers and teams who finish on the top ten positions.  There are two championships in the F1 season. First, there is the Drivers Championship, where each driver competes for this title. Second, there is the Constructors Championship, in which the ten teams compete for this title.

Since its founding, F1 quickly became an internationally renowned sport across the world-except in the United States. Why is this? After all, F1 has the US grand prix in Austin, Texas, known to fans as, “The Circuit of the Americas”.

Well, there are a few obvious reasons as to why F1 is not very popular in the United States. For starters, the F1 season (March-December) coincides with many major sports seasons in the United States, including the NFL, the NHL, the NBA, and the MLB. Many Americans are fans of these sports and tend to follow them closely when it is their season. Also, the United States already has a few “racing” sports, including NASCAR and IndyCar. These racing sports are more popular in the southern part of the United States than in the northern states. Of course, these racing leagues are vastly different than the racing style of F1. NASCAR and IndyCar both use different types of race cars and race on easier tracks compared to F1. 

Nevertheless, F1 has experienced a growth in viewership over the past few years, both internationally and in the United States. As of 2020, an average of 200,000 spectators attended an F1 weekend race. This is about a 7% growth when compared to the attendance in 2017. As for the global viewership, F1 increased by 10%, or roughly 490 million viewers, from 2017 to present day, bringing the global cumulative audience to 1.75 billion people. The United States, behind the countries of Brazil and China, is the third top market for F1 on TV.

This growth is partly due to the success of the Netflix show, “Formula One: Drive to Survive”. This show focuses on a specific F1 team and drivers during the show’s seasons, and the events that occur off the racetrack.  Since the show is on a widely known platform, many people (including Americans) were exposed to the sport and became fans of it. Also, video games such as “F1 2020” have been catching the attention of the younger crowd. Other methods include drivers being used in promotion ads for companies, and new sponsors for teams are making commercials, not only promoting their products but indirectly promoting the sport as well. Also, the first American team in 30 years joined f1 in 2016. This team is Haas, which was established by NASCAR cup series team owner Gene Haas. Haas was the worst team in f1 this past season (since its relatively new), but Gene is optimistic about the future and is spending more money on developing their car in the 2022 season.

F1 will continue to grow in the United States, as it has already been proven. F1 knows that the United States is an untapped hotspot for expansion and revenue. This year, F1 signed an agreement to have a street circuit in Miami for the 2022 season. This brings a total of two circuits in the United States, with the possibility of more (such as one in California or Las Vegas). With this new investment into the United States, F1 may grow to become a household name sooner than we may think.