F1: Harris poll says Americans want to see American drivers in F1

Formula 1 (F1) racing has been making a push to gain viewership in the United States over the past year. May’s Miami Grand Prix and the growing popularity of Netflix’s F1-focused series Drive to Survive might be making progress in making Formula 1 mainstream in the United States. According to a recent study by the Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports, Formula 1 could be gaining traction among unexpected groups of U.S. sports fans. Even so, Formula 1 still has a ways to go in breaking into the larger American market.

While NASCAR fans over-index on Formula 1 interest, most aren’t likely to watch Formula 1 over a NASCAR race. However, Formula 1 could gain traction with fans of non-traditional sports. 

One in three (34%) U.S. adults are interested in Formula 1 racing, and three quarters (76%) of NASCAR fans are interested in Formula 1. That said, only 25% of NASCAR fans (and 18% of all U.S. adults) would rather watch a Formula 1 race than a NASCAR race.

Fans of other non-traditional sports report more often that they’re interested in F1 compared to fans of traditional sports, showing that F1 could have an opportunity to target adventurous sports fans. Seven in ten (70%) WBC Boxing fans, 69% of MLS fans, and 63% of UFC fans are interested in Formula 1 (vs. 42% of MLB fans, 43% of NFL fans, and 48% of NBA fans).

Mario Andretti puts the Ferrari on pole for the 1982 Italian GP at Monza and finished 3rd fighting throttle issues. Will there ever be another American driver to win an F1 race?

Drive to Survive seems to be helping Formula 1 gain interest from U.S. viewers. Still, a notable sum of those interested in racing would be more invested if there were more American drivers. 

Three in ten (28%) people that are interested in Formula 1 (and a quarter of NASCAR fans) had their interest piqued in Formula 1 by the Netflix series Drive to Survive. Media is important in spreading awareness about Formula 1, but many Americans would be more interested if there was more U.S. representation on the track.

One third (35%) of those interested in Formula 1 and 16% of all U.S. adults would be more interested in Formula 1 if there were more American drivers. Additionally, 31% of NASCAR fans would be more interested in Formula 1 if there were more American drivers.

While Formula 1 is making progress in breaking into the U.S. sports market, more work needs to be done to get Americans to buy into the international racing sport. By targeting non-traditional sports fans and putting more American faces on the track, Formula 1 could go mainstream in the United States.  The Harris Poll

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