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From Fad to Fixture: Securing Formula 1’s Legacy Amid Explosive Growth



F1 business Growth 2023

As Formula 1 races into uncharted territory with record-breaking attendance and explosive growth, the sport faces a crucial challenge: maintaining its newfound fan base and securing long-term stability.

With revenue skyrocketing and television viewership surging, the pressure is on to keep the momentum going without compromising the integrity of the sport. By balancing calculated risks with solid fundamentals, Formula 1 is gearing up for a future that’s as thrilling as the races themselves.

The recent surge in Formula 1’s popularity has led to unprecedented growth, attracting new fans and expanding into untapped markets and demographics that were once only a distant dream.

The US Grand Prix last year broke the record for the highest event attendance with 440,000 attendees over the weekend, only to be surpassed by Australia earlier this month with 444,000.

However, such expansion is not sustainable in the long run.

Now, the sport’s main challenge is to consolidate its newfound fan base and establish a stable business model for a future that won’t see the same remarkable growth.

In 2022, revenue increased by over $400 million compared to the previous year, while operating income soared by 333 percent in 2021.


The increase in popularity has been driven by expanding television viewership, with a global audience of 1.55 billion in 2021, a four percent rise from 2020.

Countries such as the Netherlands, the United States, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom experienced robust growth of at least 39 percent, with the Netherlands leading at 81 percent.

A similar trend is observed on social media, where the number of followers has surged across various platforms.

This has led to more mentions, coverage, and interactions, further fueling the cycle of growth.

However, this rapid ascent cannot continue indefinitely, and it will eventually slow down.

The timing of this transition remains uncertain, but it arguably represents the most significant risk currently faced by Formula 1 as a business.

F1 business

“The success of this competition and the event we’re building on is what we want to preserve,” Formula 1 CEO and President Stefano Domenicali said in an interview with F1Lead.


His statement encompasses a range of topics, including fan engagement, long-term revenue generation, and risk management.

All of these aspects are vital to the sport’s future, as dwindling fan interest leads to reduced revenue, which could ultimately bring the business to a halt.

The challenge lies in maximizing revenue both now and in the future.

Formula 1 is owned by Liberty Media, and while they have contributed positively to the sport, their primary goal is not altruistic. Their involvement in Formula 1 stems from the desire to generate a favorable return on investment.

Consequently, Liberty Media is open to making adjustments to Formula 1 to attract a wider audience, enhance marketability, and boost commercial appeal, all of which contribute to generating revenue.

The challenge lies in avoiding gimmicks that might devalue the sport or provide short-term benefits at the expense of long-term stability.

The F1 Sprint initiative has experienced a surge in television interest and gained popularity among fans at the track, which also pleases event promoters.


Such initiatives offer more than just on-track action.

By keeping promoters satisfied, the sport can charge higher hosting fees.

Increased track action leads to more television viewers and the ability to demand higher prices for broadcasting rights.

Additional benefits include amplified coverage of trackside signage, greater demand for corporate hospitality, and more.

The Sprint is one example of an initiative that not only enhances the overall business but also helps to solidify and reduce the risk of a fluctuating fan base losing interest.

The sport has also become more accessible, implementing a new social media strategy that engages fans like never before.

Domenicali stated that their aim is to provide a means of connection for individuals who are unable to attend.


Formula 1 provides its own over-the-top service, F1TV, which features live session coverage, live updates, timing, replays, highlights, behind-the-scenes shows, and more, depending on the market.

These efforts aim to maximize the sport’s reach and communicate directly with fans to engage them, turning casual viewers into passionate fans.

Domenicali acknowledges that the sport’s popularity can fluctuate, saying, “You can have a cycle that is going up, down as well.”

F1 business

He emphasizes the importance of maintaining strong fundamentals and exploring new markets just starting their journey with the sport.

One such market is the United States.

Although Formula 1 has been visiting the US since the 1950s, it has only gained significant traction in the past five years.

This year, the US will host three events, including the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix.


There is also a desire to expand into other regions, such as Africa, with recent efforts focused on reviving the South African Grand Prix.

F1 business

Such an expansion will only take place when there is a clear and sustainable future for the event.

Securing medium- to long-term agreements with promoters is a top priority, as it effectively guarantees an income stream for the duration of the contract.

This is why Bahrain has a deal in place until 2036 and Melbourne until 2037.

Several essential events in established or emerging markets have entered into long-term contracts to provide a solid foundation for the business going forward.

This stability allows Domenicali the freedom to experiment and explore new markets, events, and initiatives.

It also protects the business from any potential bubble effect.


By staggering the end dates of these long-term agreements, a gradual transition can be provided if F1’s increasing popularity turns out to be temporary.

The strategy follows basic economics and financial planning: save and invest during prosperous times to safeguard the operation, so that when things slow down, funding is available to support and offset any decline.

Domenicali is implementing this approach by securing the fundamentals to protect the business while taking calculated risks to promote continued growth.

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