Since its early beginnings as the World Championship for Drivers in 1950, Formula 1 has never been far from the cameras.
Over the years, F1 adapted with the times to ensure lovers of the sport remain connected and enjoy the best of what modern technology offers.
Now with the development of streaming platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, the viewing experience for fans has completely changed, meaning that highlights, stories, biographies, and movies now accompany live racing – all season long.
Drive to Survive
Between August and May 2022, the technology site ExpressVPN discovered that searches for “stream F1” increased shortly after the fourth season of the Drive to Survive documentary was screened on Netflix, suggesting that the show actually created new fans or reignited a flame in lapsed ones.
ExpressVPN adds that an increased level of support for F1’s season was also visible on Google Trends.
The volume of searches for both F1 streaming and Drive to Survive prior to season 4 was insignificant, with less than 25 total points on Google’s Interest Over Time chart. This makes the correlation between the two topics easy to see.
The biggest hike in interest came in early March, which coincided with the release of the new season on Netflix.
Searches for both topics also pushed over 25 points in December 2021, although Drive to Survive was not on the air (the previous season of the show ended in March). Here, the likelihood is that viewers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix were connecting with supplementary media, too, rather than just viewing the races in a live format.
Rush – The F1 Movie
Despite the above, F1 still occupies a bit of a sporting niche within the UK. Just 10% of the population cites motorsport as one of their favourites, meaning it is far behind football, golf, rugby, and cricket. Of course, such sports can earn their popularity because they are relatively easy to join in with, while Motorsports, an inherently expensive sport, doesn’t have quite the same level of accessibility.
In fact, the Red Bull website notes that an official F1 car can cost around 15-million euros, so it’s not for everyone. Of course, Drive to Survive is just the latest in a long line of documentaries and movies that have introduced a new audience to racing.
The critically acclaimed Rush (2013) told the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt, starring Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth, while the equally well-thought-of Senna (2010) was a documentary about the eponymous Brazilian before his tragic crash.
Individual drivers have proven popular with filmmakers over the years. Schumacher (2021), Max Verstappen: Whatever It Takes (2020), and Superswede (2017) also shone a light on some of F1’s most charismatic characters, while Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams have all been brought to the silver screen in some form or another.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much pencilled in for 2022.
Observing Google Trends around the season’s biggest events can reveal an awful lot of information about just how fans and businesses interact with their favourite teams and drivers and how they’re keeping interaction alive outside of their biggest events.