Home Estate Planning How Formula 1 is looking beyond Drive to Survive in search for new fans 

How Formula 1 is looking beyond Drive to Survive in search for new fans 

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The success of Drive to Survive in attracting new fans and growing the revenue of Formula 1 has spawned imitators in just about every sport, from tennis to golf, rugby to cricket, cycling to athletics.

F1 generated more than $2.5bn in revenue in 2022, a rise of nearly 30 per cent in comparison to 2017 when Liberty Media acquired the premier motorsport series. 

But now those associated with F1 want more. There is a belief that not only can it grow more, but that the sport can also boost the profiles of both drivers and investors. 

Ahead of the 2024 season, which starts this week in Bahrain, teams are looking to leverage streaming platforms and prominent social media profiles to amplify their brands.

The French-owned team Alpine, who finished sixth last year, sold a 24 per cent stake for £171m to a consortium which included Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and his friend and fellow actor Rob McElhenney last year. 

If there’s anything to learn from their ambitious venture with football club Wrexham so far, it’s that the Hollywood stars are more than happy to use their celebrity status for business promotion. 

They produced their own docuseries for Disney+, Welcome to Wrexham, which turned a small Welsh coal mining town into a hotspot for feverish American tourists. 

Wrexham’s sponsorship deals with social media platform TikTok and United Airlines, meanwhile, have reinvented how football clubs can increase online following. 

The Alpine consortium also includes American actor Michael B Jordan, AC Milan owners Redbird Capital Partners, and private equity group Otro Capital Partners. 

Indications show that the investors want to add to F1’s celebrity appeal, with Reynolds appearing in an advertisement for the latest season of Drive to Survive on Netflix. 

Social media traction has been essential to F1’s rising demand but there may be cause for some concern on that front. A report last year by the marketing intelligence platform Buzz Radar said social media mentions fell by 70 per cent, while reach had dropped by more than half. 

One team is hoping to counter that trend by making use of live streaming platform Kick, which is owned by cryptocurrency casino site Stake. It has replaced Alfa Romeo as title sponsor of Sauber, who are now officially known as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber. 

Kick, which is barely over a year old and competes with Amazon-owned Twitch, has already taken advantage of popular sports coverage by signing football transfers guru Fabrizio Romano to create content. 

The partnership between the Swiss engineering company Sauber, Stake and Kick will last until 2026, when Audi is due to enter F1. In that time, the team may be able to access fans who are more used to watching gamers play Grand Theft Auto. 

Ryan Reynolds is now involved in Formula 1 as a team co-owner

F1 is also set to benefit from coverage in an unnamed film produced by Lewis Hamilton which features Brad Pitt as its main character. Filming has already taken place at Silverstone, though there is no release date as of yet. 

It follows the movie Ferrari, based on the sport’s most famous team and starring Penelope Cruz and Adam Driver, and a drama series based on Brawn GP’s 2009 triumph featuring Keanu Reeves, which were both released last year.

Such projects seek to take the F1 brand beyond Drive to Survive in 2024 and find new ways to manufacture drama and captivate audiences. But efforts to boost the spectacle have received criticism from some who say it is giving up its sporting pedigree in return. 

They include double F1 champion Max Verstappen who claimed those attending the flashy Las Vegas Grand Prix last year were there not to watch cars race, but to “have a party, drink, see a DJ or a performance act”. 

When the Bahrain Grand Prix starts this Saturday, the competition’s newest businessmen will be hoping the new season can retain its huge popularity and garner more interest, while others may be wondering whether it became too focussed on exhausting the entertainment factor.

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