F1: Why Women Have Fallen in Love with Formula 1 (Update)

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Amid the super-cute bromances, violent crashes, and incredible skill, the thing that really makes women love Drive to Survive, and now F1, is the pettinessThere are many shows on TV based on women’s pettiness. For women, Drive to Survive is a refreshing, life-altering joy of seeing a TV show dedicated to the bitchiness of grown men, who are leaders in the sport.

Men love to paint women as competitive, insecure mammals, who view every other female person as a potential adversary.  The Netflix producers turn the table and enable women to see men captured on camera as the catty ones for once. And oh my, does it make great entertainment.

But there is more to this story.

In November last year, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said that approximately 40% of global F1 fans are now female, up 8% from 2017.

In an article on Refinery29.com, Alicia Vrajlal interviews several women to find out what the attraction is to F1.

Sydney-based Josephine Rozenberg-Clarke says she never understood people’s fascination with Formula 1, until she began watching Drive To Survive in 2021 while recovering from COVID-19 at home. As she binged each season that documented everything from team principals poaching drivers to sponsorship dilemmas and drivers’ backstories, she quickly learned there was more to the sport than she had anticipated.

“I didn’t realize that it isn’t just cars driving around a racetrack,” says Rozenberg-Clarke. “It’s all about the politics of it and people swapping teams.

“I personally like Christian Horner — he’s the greatest villain on TV,” she laughs, referring to the Team Principal of the Red Bull F1 team, who’s very opinionated on the Netflix show.

Rosanna Tennant is a Network 10 F1 reporter who became the first woman to call a F1 race start in 2021. She says that Drive To Survive has definitely contributed to more female fans, but underscores that women’s appreciation for the sport shouldn’t be minimized to mere fangirling over handsome men on a Netflix show.

Rosanna Tennant/Instagram

“In the last few years, there was a reaction to women suddenly being interested in Formula 1, and there was a simplistic view of ‘Oh, they’re just there because they think the drivers are good looking or they fancy a certain driver,” Tennant says.
“But actually they’re incredibly discerning. Females are incredibly loyal and they want to do their research before they favor one driver over the other.

“There’s lots to consume when it comes to Formula 1. It isn’t just cars going around in a circle, which I think a lot of people think it is. There’s lots of technical information and there’s politics, which of course we’ve seen through Drive To Survive, and that’s what perhaps interests females as much as males.”

The politics and strategy behind the sport is the draw card for Melissa Matheson, who grew up with no interest in Formula 1, despite being surrounded by people who were hooked on it. But after hearing one of her colleagues raving about Drive To Survive, she binged four seasons in the week leading up to the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, which then tempted her to watch the actual live race when it happened a few days later.

“I got addicted that quickly,” Matheson admits. “The percentage of good-looking men in that sport is off the charts,” she laughs, but emphasizes that being a “big fan of sports psychology” is what made her truly connect with the sport.

“Yes, the drama played out [on screen], but I really liked the tactics,” she explains.

“I really got into the mentality of the team principals and what it takes to pull a team together, what it takes to deal with big egos, and how do you treat the two drivers in your team fairly – i.e. who gets the right to overtake the other drivers on the track?”


March 2, 2023 

By Lori Leadfoot

Let us be honest. Formula 1 is certainly not the most women-inclusive sport. After all, a female driver hasn’t competed in a Formula 1 Grand Prix since 1976. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no avid female Formula 1 aficionados out there. 

Instead, over the past few years, we noticed that an increasing number of women are actively enthusiastic about the Formula 1 series. And we think we have found out why. 

Netflix’s Drive to Survive and Its Female Audience

One of the main reasons why women are paying more attention to Formula 1 is due to the growing exposure. And yes, Netflix has played a big part in it. ‘Drive to Survive,’ a docu series that follows Formula 1 teams, has gained huge popularity with audiences across the world. 

To get valid data for this article, we talked to a number of our colleagues and their friends. Interestingly, we were as surprised to know that many women consider this one of their favorite Netflix shows. In fact, Anna, a nursing student, told us that she binge-watched the series while trying to complete her college assignments. She was so caught up in the series that she ended up having to get help from a nursing paper writing service to meet deadlines in the end. So, you don’t need any more details on how gripping this show is. 

Yes, there is plenty to get excited about Formula 1. The series showcases the rivalry between the teams and drivers. But amidst all the fury, the series has also managed to portray the incredible skills and dedication of the drivers. And needless to say, all this hype encouraged us to watch the show again, and we saw it with a fresh set of eyes. 

Even women who were completely clueless about Formula 1 are now eager about the series, the drama, the bromances, and they even know the names of the racers. It even shines a light on the reality that men can hold grudges, take out their anger, and still be extremely competitive – all while doing it with the sportsman spirit. 

Public/crowd on the track during the Hungarian GP, 28-31 July 2022 at Hungaroring, Formula 1 World championship 2022.

An All-Female Formula 1 Academy 

While Netflix has done an excellent job in the TV world, Formula 1 has been taking steps to attract women in the real world. 

So, to catch up with the wide gender gap, Formula 1 has also launched an all-female driver category, the F1 Academy. The purpose of this initiative is to develop and train young women drivers for higher levels of competition, such as Formula 1, Formula 2, and Formula 3, including the W Series. 

The F1 Academy will have five teams managed by current F2 and F3 teams, with each team fielding three cars, resulting in a total of 15 cars on the grid. The season will consist of seven events with three races each, as well as 15 days of official testing. 

The aim of this new category is to help young female drivers maximize their potential and pave the way for them to reach the highest level in motorsport by providing them with the necessary experience to progress to F3 and, ultimately, Formula 1.

This has come as exciting news for women F1 enthusiasts from across the world. 

The latest season of Drive to Survive was timed perfectly with the announcement of the F1 academy. And we couldn’t be happier about how things are turning out for women in the F1 world. 

Drive to Survive has managed to capture the essence of Formula 1 with a bit of drama that makes it even more thrilling. If you haven’t watched it already, we would highly recommend it. You will fall in love with not only the art of docuseries but also with Formula 1. 


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