Progressive Americanization of F1. Is it good for the sport?

“Formula 1 is getting too American,” says Bernie Ecclestone, who hates how Liberty Media changes its “baby”. – He can talk as much as he wants, but now everyone wants to cooperate with F1 – replies the current owner of the discipline.

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Alfa Romeo boxing stars at the Miami GP

Press material / Alfa Romeo F1 ORLEN / Pictured: Alfa Romeo boxing stars at the Miami GP

It was Bernie Ecclestone who turned Formula 1 into a global platform after he began to gain recognition and power in the motorsport queen world in the 1970s, eventually selling his child to Liberty Media a few years ago for $8 billion. The Americans have started to organize F1 in their own way with a number of changes. It is not only about a fairer distribution of cash prizes, but also about the organization of races.

F1’s new owner is increasingly willing to host races on the streets, as it is easier to convince new fans to see the competition in this way. The Grand Prix is ​​often combined with concerts by music stars, as recently in the case of the Miami GP.

Formula 1 is becoming too American. Maybe that’s a good thing, because a lot of stupid things come out of the US and everyone is happy. But it’s not the sport it was when I ran it, Ecclestone recently told Bloomberg.

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A sharp response to the words of the former F1 boss

– Bernie can talk as much as he wants. However, the reality is that now everyone wants to work with Formula 1, Greg Maffei, who heads Liberty Media, said 91 quickly.

– Bernie deserves a lot of respect for building this sport from the beginning. However, the reality is that he created a juggernaut that at some point stopped growing. The viewership has ground to a halt. Ecclestone’s motto was clear: I like white, old and rich guys who pay for the sport, Maffei added to Bloomberg.

No doubt the Americans have taken some initiatives that would not have happened under Ecclestone. The British, among others, underestimate the role of social media. During his reign, F1 was absent from Facebook or Twitter, as its boss believed the queen of motorsport was too exclusive a commodity to appear on the internet among the general public.

F1 started attracting music and movie stars
F1 started attracting music and movie stars

Over the years, Ecclestone also failed to convince the Americans to go to F1, while activists from Liberty Media were very quick to do so. The series “Drive to Survival” took Netflix by storm and made them gain new fans. The #WeRaceAsOne campaign, which is a response to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, also hit US residents.

– Our view is that we can expand the reach of F1 through the diversity of gender and age. We did it. Even if Bernie criticizes it, Maffei estimated.

More and more America in F1

The Americanization of F1 is not only apparent from the fact that more and more races are accompanied by a show well known from NBA or NFL games. In 2023, the queen of motorsport will host three races in the United States. The Las Vegas GP joins the US GP and the Miami GP.

Last year’s US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, followed the flooded crowd, even raising concerns about the impact of the F1 race on the epidemiological situation in the region. The last Miami Grand Prix was watched by nearly 300,000 people in three days. fans, despite the terribly expensive ticket prices.

– Our partners limited the turnout because they wanted to make sure that during the inaugural edition of the Miami GP everything would perform as it should. I suspect that in the next few years the audience in Miami will be even bigger, because this is the question. The Las Vegas GP is already enjoying great popularity – the F1 owner’s boss revealed.

Maffei stressed that this success would not have happened without further investment from F1, while Ecclestone had avoided such decisions. – We invested a lot of money. We’ve done a lot to open up this sport to other people. It used to be a closed world, full of limitations. We are now the fastest growing discipline in social media, he added.

Ecclestone himself said directly in one of the interviews in 2014 that he is not interested in attracting young fans to F1, because they cannot afford to buy products from companies that promote themselves through the races of the Queen of the World. Motorsport. The Briton’s approach turned out to be wrong as the average age of an F1 fan started rising alarmingly.

– Now we have a situation where the audience of other disciplines is aging, and our research shows that we have not only increased the engagement of the opposite sex, but also decreased the average age of our audience by 3-4 years. This is a huge achievement. The growth of the American public is 50%. year after year, and at a time when sports ratings are declining due to changes in society, Maffei boasted.

American F1 a threat to Europe?

Liberty Media not only signs contracts for the organization of F1 in the US, but also focuses on the Middle East, as witnessed by the contracts at the Qatar GP and Saudi Arabia GP. Ecclestone, who had previously invited sheikhs from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to join the elite cycle, paved the way in this direction.

It is becoming increasingly louder that the current F1 strategy is a threat to Europe, which cannot compete financially with, for example, countries that profit from the sale of crude oil. As a result, the future of racing in Spain, France or Belgium is uncertain and Germany has been off the calendar for a while.

– I’m a bit old-fashioned. I like history, especially regarding some songs. But the older I am, the more I realize it’s about people. We can go to a track that is in the middle of nowhere without a good hotel base and fan community. For us riders, driving on the historic track will be great. But we also have to consider the people, said seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton on the occasion of the Miami GP.

The drivers on the GP Miami podium received the helmets used by American football players
The drivers on the GP Miami podium received the helmets used by American football players

– We experienced it during a pandemic, when we competed in empty stands and there was no atmosphere. The race was like training, it wasn’t fun. Now we see hundreds of thousands of people on the track. They are excited, full of energy, they want to soak up F1. This is what it’s all about – added the Brit.

Hamilton cited the Nürburgring as an example. This is one of the most iconic and dangerous circuits in Europe. When F1 was last there, however, the stands were not full of tears. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. As the queen of motorsport has become a global commodity, it must combine features that can be accepted by a die-hard racing fan as well as someone for whom racing cars is entertainment, such as turning on Netflix.

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