The 2021 Formula 1 season started with a down-to-the-wire race for the win and a strong television audience on ESPN2.
Sunday’s Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix attracted an average audience of 879,000 fans, a viewership larger than all of the F1 races run during the pandemic-shifted 2020 season. The race was the most-viewed live Formula 1 telecast on ESPN2 on record dating back to 1995 and the most-viewed Bahrain Grand Prix on record since the event started in 2004.
The audience peaked at 1 million viewers between 12:30-12:45 p.m. ET as Lewis Hamilton withstood a strong challenge from Max Verstappen to capture the victory by just 0.7 second.
The race was up 72 percent in viewership over last year’s Bahrain race, which was moved to November due to the pandemic and averaged 511,000 viewers on ESPN2. The audience also was up 21 percent over the 727,000 average on ESPN2 for the 2019 race, run on a similar weekend in March.
The race started shortly after 11 a.m. ET on the Bahrain International Circuit.
F1 returns to action on Sunday, April 18, with the Formula 1 Pirelli Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The race airs at 8:55 a.m. on ESPN from the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy.