F1: Zandvoort proves the drivers, not the car, must be the heros

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says the success of the Dutch GP showed that the organization’s focus on putting drivers, not the cars, at the center of the sport is the correct one.

The Americans, who now own the series, had Netflix create the popular ‘to Survive Series’ that stresses the people, not the cars, of the sport. They have also pushed for the youth movement, with new blood replacing tired blood.

“We are definitely happy because there was the proof that when you have the vision to work with the right promoters, you can create an event that is unique,” he told Autosport after Sunday’s race.

“Of course, you can say that the impact of Max is here. When we said at the beginning of this year drivers are our soul, the personality of drivers created what is here.

“And so this is really an incredible situation that we living together. It was amazing. And it was good to see the sign of what F1 could be.

“We need to keep that focus of course, to make sure that is going in this direction.”

Similar passion has been generated previously by the likes of Fernando Alonso in Spain, Sergio Perez in Mexico and Lewis Hamilton in Britain. Domenicali believes that it can also happen in other countries, with the right drivers.

“This is the strategy to build the right platform for the future. Of course, you may say, what if we would have a great American driver? Maybe in the future – why not?

“This is something that is very important. This is a platform where the energy is done by the people. And if you’re doing the great choices, if you’re working together, this is the proof that we can do something spectacular.

“And all around the world – because I received so many messages from everyone involved in the sport business – it is showing that that there is a lot of attention to us.”

Domenicali added that the Zandvoort race provided guidance for other race promoters in terms of what can be offered to spectators.

Fans celebrate Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

“I think that the lesson is what we can do. First of all, the Miami organizer was here, and I think it was very important to show what we’re doing. And the lesson is that the more involvement we can get together with our crowd, the better the event will be [But there are no American drivers in F1, so the Miami organizers hands are tied].

“Good co-ordination with us, and make sure that everything is planned properly, and organized. So a lot of things that we bring home. And I’m sure that these guys [the Dutch fans] will follow other Grands Prix, and that is great.”

He also cautioned that F1 remains compromised by the COVID pandemic: “We are still living in this situation, and we cannot give up on that.

“But of course, our approach to be very focused on vaccinations and checks is the only way to move forward.”

A Younger Fan base than other forms of Motorsports

With the announcement of George Russell to Mercedes, data shows that Formula One continues to grow in popularity among a new generation of fans who use social media for news, this is thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive and the Twitch quartet keeping us all entertained during lockdown.

With this, their Instagram accounts are continuing to grow, Grange has taken a look at the engagement rate, potential earnings from sponsored posts, and average likes of the current Formula 1 drivers to analyze their social activity.


F1’s post about George joining Mercedes has already got 893,286 likes on Instagram.

  • World champion Lewis Hamilton is leading the pack with a whopping 23.1 Million followers on Instagram.
  • His 2022 teammate George Russell has the highest engagement rate of all the drivers (15.42%).
  • Full-time streamer, part-time driver Lando Norris comes in second with an engagement rate of 13.08%.
  • Potential earnings – Lewis Hamilton could potentially earn £33,784 – £56,306 per sponsored post.
  • Instagram mirrors the championship with Hamilton being in first with the most followers and Max Verstappen taking second.
  • Vettel is the only account they could not analyze as he is the only driver who has no social media accounts.
  • McLaren win the Instagram constructors championship with 7.6 million followers, followed by Mercedes with 7.3 million.
  • Red Bull miss the podium, being the fourth most followed team with 6.2 million followers behind Ferrari who have 6.7 million.
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