F1 confirms 100million+ audience for Abu Dhabi finale

Jamie Woodhouse
A packed crowd of Formula 1 fans. Austin October 2021.

The hill up to Turn 1 in Austin is packed with fans ahead of the United States Grand Prix. October 2021.

Formula 1 confirmed a jump in its viewing figures for 2021, with a whopping 108 million tuning in for the title decider.

There is no doubt that the series is enjoying a boom period, with the 2021 season delivering one of the greatest Drivers’ Championship battles ever witnessed, as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went into the final race in Abu Dhabi level on points.

And in-keeping with a season characterised by twists and surprises, it was no shock to see the title scrap go all the way down to the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Verstappen made the overtake on Hamilton to clinch the first World Championship of his career.

Abu Dhabi proved to be the most-watched race of the 2021 season, drawing in 107.8m TV viewers, a jump of 29% compared to the 2020 staging.

With a cumulative TV audience of 1.55 billion, Formula 1 saw a 4% overall increase on the 2020 figures, with an average audience per Grand Prix of 70.3m.

Formula 1 welcomed significant audience growth in several markets compared to 2020, with a year-on-year increase of 81% in the Netherlands and 58% in the United States.

Fans celebrate Max Verstappen's Dutch Grand Prix victory. Zandvoort September 2021.
Fans celebrate Max Verstappen's victory in the Dutch Grand Prix with flares and fireworks. Zandvoort September 2021.

The spike in Dutch interest can be attributed to Max Verstappen’s rise to title contention, while Netflix’s Drive to Survive has helped to open up the United States Market, with Formula 1 scheduling two races in the nation for 2022.

The Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar for the first time, with the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas maintaining its place.

China accounted for the biggest number of unique viewers, that being people who tuned into at least one race during the season, with a total of 70.8m.

That was a rise of 13% compared to 2020, despite the Chinese Grand Prix being absent from the Formula 1 calendar for the past two seasons.

Spain saw a mighty jump of 272%, coinciding with the Formula 1 return of Spain’s two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso.

It was also positive news for the race attendances, as fans returned to the stands at various race weekends, following a 2020 campaign that was largely contested behind closed doors due to the global pandemic.

A 400,000 crowd at COTA for the United States GP topped the figures, while also proving a record attendance for the venue.

The Mexican and British GPs also broke the 300,000 barrier, with attendances of 371,000 and 356,000 respectively.

All three events saw a marked increase compared to their 2019 attendees, the last time that crowds were permitted without a capacity limit.

Formula 1 also reported that it its social media follower growth made it “the fastest growing major sports league on the planet”.

 

In a statement, Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “The 2021 season was something very special.

“We had a championship battle that went to the last race with huge excitement throughout the whole championship.

“We began to welcome back our fans who are the heart and soul of our sport and although we were limited in our capacities due to COVID, it was fantastic to see 2.6 million fans in the grandstands around the world.

“We have also seen some very strong figures across broadcast and our digital platforms, showing once again the momentum, excitement and interest that is all around Formula 1.

“We are looking forward to our record breaking 23 race season this year, with new cars, new regulations, and a new challenge for all the teams and drivers. I know all of our fans can’t wait to get the season started.”

A new-look Formula 1 will get the 2022 season underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

 

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