Spurred on by the blockbuster 2021 season and fresh attention thanks to Netflix's Formula 1: Drive to Survive, F1 has been on a major glow-up in recent years. The sport is now becoming "like the Kardashians on wheels" according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
As reported by Bloomberg, Horner credited much of the sport's recent success to Drive to Survive. "We’ve seen massive growth,” Horner told the outlet. “Drive to Survive has introduced F1 to a whole new audience, a younger and American audience." That audience is falling in love with personalities, from proud drivers to enigmatic team principals.
While Horner used the Kardashians as an analogy, it's worth noting that the popular family isn't foreign to the F1 circus. Getty
With its rich behind-the-scenes content, Drive to Survive is allowing fans to get to know the characters of F1 better than ever before. It focuses on drivers, teams, and their relationships, making for an apt comparison to the Kardashian media franchise. Before the Netflix series aired, such stories played out in post-race interviews and short media stories. Today, they're captured and chronicled in glorious 4K video.
The only caveat is that Drive to Survive is released months after the conclusion of the full F1 season. It's delayed gratification, but that hasn't phased new fans. They're flocking to live race broadcasts, too, with ESPN reporting an average of 1.21 million U.S. viewers per race in 2022. That's a 28% increase over 2021, according to the network.
F1 had previously struggled in the U.S., with debacles like the 2005 US Grand Prix long staining the sport's reputation. However, the Netflix series has helped crack the market with its all-encompassing view of the sport in a manner more akin to reality TV.
Due in part to this growth, the States now has three races on the F1 calendar for 2023. The latest to join the calendar is the Las Vegas Grand Prix, and expectations are high for the new race's debut. “The demand for that race is off the charts. Anybody who is anyone will be at that weekend,” said Horner.
The Red Bull supremo isn't wrong, with tickets for the race starting at $500. Notably, besides the U.S., Italy is the only other country that has held three World Championship events in a single year. The Mediterranean country did so as a special effort during the pandemic-affected 2020 season.
Overall, Horner has much to be upbeat about. Not only is F1 reaching new heights of global popularity, but his team is at the forefront of the action. Red Bull stormed to a 1-2 finish at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. If anything, the team dominated the race to such an extent that it might actually cost the sport fans. But for Horner and the rest of Red Bull Racing, that's a great problem to have.
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