F1 commercial chief’s reveal demonstrates striking spike in U.S. fan interest

Jamie Woodhouse
The flag of the United States displayed at the Circuit of The Americas in 2022

The flag of the United States displayed at the Circuit of The Americas

Formula 1 really is enjoying itself in the United States, with commercial chief Brandon Snow revealing that half of F1’s fans in the nation have come about in the last few years.

It is safe to say that Formula 1 has now cracked America, this proving to be a very lucrative market for the series with F1 2023 marking an increase to three rounds based in the nation.

Miami will be the first U.S.-based destination on 7 May, before the United States Grand Prix in Austin come October, with the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix then scheduled for the following month.

It is a spike of interest which can largely be traced back to the success of Netflix’s hit Formula 1 docuseries, Drive to Survive.

The first season of that show aired in 2019, with the fifth having been released in early 2023, and so its impact is clear with Snow revealing how fresh much of Formula 1’s American fanbase is.

“For us, from a pure business perspective, what’s happening with Formula 1 in the U.S. right now is clearly a moment,” F1’s managing director of commercial told The Ringer.

“You know, one in two fans in the U.S. of Formula 1 are new within the last couple of years. And within that, we have almost 30 percent of our fans under the age of 35.”

Williams driver Alex Albon described the situation as a “takeover” which has put Formula 1 in a state of health never experienced before, having also seen an increasingly American feel to F1’s sponsor portfolio.

And as for himself, when he is in the nation with his girlfriend, LPGA golfer Lily Muni He, he is now a far more recognisable face.

“When I come to America now, my girlfriend, she’s from L.A, the amount I get noticed now compared to where I was three years ago is huge, it’s blown up,” Albon stated.

“It’s a takeover, which has made the sport healthier than it’s ever been before. It’s great.”

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For all the great work that Drive to Survive has done in creating this Formula 1 buzz, some of the drivers have not always been too thrilled with the show, believing that events at times can be overly dramatised.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen actually at one stage boycotted the show, ending his silence for the fifth and latest series.

However, Williams sporting director Sven Smeets looked to highlight a further benefit which he feels Drive to Survive has created for Formula 1, that being the opportunity to show that it is about more than just cars going around a track.

“I think that Drive to Survive helped the people to actually understand what is going on in the teams, between the teams, and has attracted a different audience to the sport,” he claimed.

With three rounds of F1 2023 now in the books, the series will emerge from its four-week break for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from 28-30 April.

Max Verstappen goes into the event atop the Drivers’ Championship, 15 points clear of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.