“Right now, Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s almost-permanent residence on the top podium has fans tuning out. A predictable sport, after all, is no fun at all. For F1 to thrive, it needs to recapture the magical formula of wheel-to-wheel racing between multiple top drivers vying for supremacy.”
Fan growth exploded from 2016 to 2022, and online conversations around F1 grew by 80% making F1 the fastest-growing sport on social platforms during that period.
Worth noting that conversations stagnated between 2018 and 2020.
Those new fans are struggling with F1’s current predictability: In 2023, use of words like ‘boring’ and ‘annoying’ to describe
A big shift from the ‘exciting’ and ‘interesting’ descriptors seen more in 2022.
Data suggests that if one driver and team continues to dominate, up to 50% of the new fans gained since 2016 could tune out by the end of 2024.
Data from early 2023 suggests this turbo-charged growth may have already peaked.
Alarming drops compared to 2022 were detected in key metrics: Social media mentions: Down 70% New followers across major accounts: Down 46% Overall social media reach: Down 64%
Remaining engaged fans are talking about F1 in increasingly passionate terms.
The percentage of positive conversations has more than doubled from 19% in 2016 to 46% in 2023.
The Buzz Radar numbers quoted by several motorsport media websites, including GRANDPRIX247, have been countered by the F1 press office, who emailed this author the data below.
Formula 1 supplied social media numbers and stats
Growth for our official channels are around eight times higher than the 500,000 figure mentioned by Buzz Radar for January to May.
In the second half of this season, Formula 1’s channels ranked second globally (behind La Liga) for followers’ growth rate among all major sports.
Active engagements (such as likes, comments and shares) are up 4% so far this year compared to 2022, and are on course to surpass 1.5 billion by the end of the Formula 1 season.
Social media started off with massive potential for good but descended into a cesspool of rot, hate, trolling and keyboard warriors coupled with billions of bots, namely fake accounts, that prevail to this day.
Max Verstappen has the highest percentage of fake followers, with 43.2%
Mick Schumacher is a close second on 43.1%.
Lewis Hamilton has the highest number of fake followers overall, with almost three million (37.5%).
Sergio Pérez is runner-up with over 1.4 million.
When it comes to racing teams, McLaren have the highest percentage of fake followers.
Red Bull are second (43%), while Alfa Romeo have the third highest (42.3%).
Mercedes has the highest number of fake followers among the teams. Their total of 1,866,293 is 50k ahead of Red Bull in second.
McLaren are the racing team with the most fake followers on Twitter. It’s estimated that 44.6% of their followers aren’t genuine.
Today social media is constantly (daily) reinventing itself. Twitter is now X under Elon Musk deploying his vision for the platform to rid itself of the #digitalmaggots that infest it.
Facebook/Instagram have downranked all News posts as they move away from the genre of content to avoid the inevitable toxicity that comes with every story that has two sides. The trend tends to be that the more divisive the news, the more toxic the discussions that follow on the platforms.
Formula 1 and the sport’s media must keep on doing what we do best
In revolution, it does not make sense to count the numbers, as the casualties will continue across the board in a fickle, low attention span society that the Age of Information Overdose has spawned. If traffic is down, let it be the bots that are losing the war.
For F1 as an organisation commercialising and promoting the sport, from a Media perspective, all they have to do is keep on doing what they do so well.
Right now F1 fans and journalists are spoilt for choice when it comes to content. From the excellent F1 website plus all the bells and whistles that come with it when you sign up for free. Even better when you fling a few bucks for an annual subscription.
Throw into that the superb F1TV service. For an F1 junkie, it’s pure heaven with a great commentary team covering race weekends, plus plenty of features, all the races for decades and an archive of historic, glorious full GP weekends, including race coverage dating back to the seventies and before.
Apart from the paid stuff, for free content on all social media channels – YouTube – in particular, are the best of the best. The press release service is also faultless. The F1 media team there are doing a sound job.
That there is criticism, there will always be. That user numbers drop has been part of the media landscape since the first time a Town Cryer was pelted with rotten tomatoes for boring news. But the numbers will move up again. It’s a case of head down and do what you do best: aka produce the best F1 content possible. As is being done.
That’s what we do here at GRANDPRIX247. Amid a depressing drop in ‘traffic’ the real people remain in force, and for those readers, we strive to provide the best content possible 24/7.
Big Question: Is the decline of social media a problem for Formula 1 and related media?