Drive to Survive hailed for rise in female F1 viewers

Sam Cooper
Fans at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix. Australia, April 2022.

Fans of McLaren wait for Daniel Ricciardo at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix. Australia, April 2022.

The marketing boss of the Australian Grand Prix has hailed Netflix’s Drive to Survive as “a marketing bonanza for Formula 1” – and said female viewers have dramatically increased.

While the series has been criticised both within the sport and outside for creating unrealistic narratives, there can be no denying Drive to Survive has brought a huge number of new fans to F1.

Netflix do not release viewing figures but considering the series has been renewed each year since 2019, it can be assumed the viewership is large enough for the streaming service to warrant buying the rights to film it.

Those inside the sport have also noticed an increase as well as a diversification of those watching.

“It’s been exceptional. It’s been a marketing bonanza for Formula 1,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott told Sky Sports F1.

“It was great because it gives people an insight into the sport that so many people have loved for 70 years.

“But I’ll give you one tangible example – ticket purchasing used to be 75 per cent male to 25 per cent female. Purchasing for this year was 60-40, so there is a huge increase in female purchasing.”

The impact of the series has been most keenly felt in the US, with interest in the sport continuing to rise. Three US races are scheduled for the 2023 calendar and McLaren team boss Zak Brown said Drive to Survive is “making a difference”.

Brown said this was best exemplified when he bumped into US television presenter and former NFL player Michael Strahan.

“He came up to me in a New York restaurant. A very polite guy who likes McLaren. And the first thing he said to me was ‘I saw you on Netflix!’ So I think that [it has] made a difference, especially in the US,” Brown said, quoted by Motorsport Total.

“The exciting thing about Formula 1 is it’s closed off. You couldn’t look inside.

“People have wanted to see what’s going on in the Formula 1 paddock for years. But they weren’t allowed to. But now we have opened our doors and many are amazed.

“It’s given Liberty [Media] the opportunity to grow the sport very quickly and do things like Netflix.

“I think what’s most important is it’s done some wonderful things to bring in new fans around the world. So we are very supportive of Netflix and what they are trying to accomplish, even if they take a little bit of creative licence here and there.

“I think it was number one in 25 countries. So I think the primary goal of Netflix is to entertain and bring new viewers to F1. And I think it’s accomplished that tenfold, which is great.”