United States GP set for record attendance

Jamie Woodhouse
"Drive to Survive" a driving factor behind expected record-US GP attendance.

"Drive to Survive" a driving factor behind expected record-US GP attendance.

Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ has been credited as a driving factor behind the expected record attendance for the 2019 United States GP.

The race takes place at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA), with the 2019 event running from 1-3 November.

The 2018 edition recorded a total attendance of 263,160 people, 111,580 on race day, making it the fourth-highest total of the season.

This year advance ticket sales are seeing a boost, and this has been largely put down to Netflix’s ten-part Drive to Survive series which debuted in March.

It goes behind-the-scenes to bring Formula 1 fans a side of the sport they haven’t seen before, but it has also helped promote the circuit to new audiences.

“We are on track to have the biggest attendance of any race so far – the reserved seats already sold out in July. We are thinking of where we can build new grandstands to accommodate more fans,” COTA chairman Bobby Epstein told ESPN.

“There’s a lot of reasons for that – we have the music entertainment element which has been a huge help [Pink and Imagine Dragons will play concerts during race weekend], but the fact we have built a base here at COTA is massive. We have established a good history, made it a tradition to come and race here.

“Looking beyond that, the Netflix series has been the biggest boost for US fans we have had in terms of ticket sales. All our surveys on new customers suggest it’s had a huge impact and a big benefit to F1.

“It really was a stroke of genius to get that put on. It’s why we broadened what was offered on a weekend, in order to bring different people to the event, but the Netflix series has reached people we might never have reached otherwise.”

Drive to Survive will return for a second series in 2020, while COTA’s deal to host the United States GP runs until 2021 – but Epstein is keen to avoid signing long-term deals with Formula 1.

“I think a shorter deal is better for both parties, you don’t want to get locked into something that you don’t like down the line. We also can never be sure how the event or how the sport will evolve over the next few years,” he explained.

“What I will say is, I think there will be an F1 race at COTA for as long as the track is there, that’s the benefit of building a permanent facility.”

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