Hamilton ‘most popular F1 driver since Schumacher’, says survey

2017 F1 season

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A survey of over 200,000 Formula One fans claims Lewis Hamilton has cemented his position as by far the sport’s most popular driver.

More than twice as many people ranked Hamilton as their favourite driver compared to two years ago. The report, commissioned by the Motorsport network, says Hamilton “now commands a level of global fan support not seen since that enjoyed by the great Michael Schumacher”.

Fernando Alonso is the second most popular driver and has also enjoyed a surge in support since 2015, despite having gone four years without winning a grand prix. Kimi Raikkonen – currently the most popular driver among F1 Fanatic readers – is third.

The survey also indicates strong support for reintroducing competition between tyre suppliers. F1 has been a single-tyre formula since 2007. However the number of fans keen to see the return of a tyre war has fallen since 2015 to slightly more than 50%.

Bringing back V8 engines and reintroducing refuelling are also among the popular potential changes to the sporting regulations, backed by around 30% of those who responded to the survey.

You can view the full report on the survey findings in this PDF.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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95 comments on “Hamilton ‘most popular F1 driver since Schumacher’, says survey”

  1. Hamilton uber alles!


    1. But Schumacher still is the referential: Before Schumacher & After Schumacher…

  2. James Hammond
    26th May 2017, 13:04

    Keith is definitely not a happy man posting this news

    1. Can you please tell that to the next person who comes along and accuses me of being biased in favour of Hamilton?

      To be clear: as far as I’m concerned both views are equally wrong and equally tedious.

      1. You’ve improved in recent years Keith.

      2. Neil (@neilosjames)
        26th May 2017, 19:09

        @keithcollantine at least this sort of thing seems to be universal!

        When I was writing about F1, not a week would go by without the fanboy army bashing out furious comments saying I hated Hamilton, and was biased in favour of [insert driver they didn’t like].

        At the same time, the ‘hatey army’ were busy bashing out equally angry comments saying I was biased in favour of him, and against [insert whoever they liked].

        Other drivers never seemed to attract the same intensity of feeling in such large numbers, although there were a few very, very pro- and anti-Vettel folk floating around too when he started doing OK again at Ferrari.

      3. Keith. You were pro Hamilton before but now you are unquestionably anti-Hamilton.

        Seeing the complete 180 in your narrative is very interesting. You probably got paid off by Alonso, such is the scope of your online reach and he is a master manipulator. His latest PR stunt in America has worked a treat for him and he probably saw your online presence a few years back and bought you off. I mean how do you just flip flop like that? It’s not normal behaviour.

        I remember back in the day man. You called the favouritism for Ferrari in 2008 and the clearly biased agenda by Max Mosley against McLaren, specifically at Spa and Fuji.

        Now its as you’re a completely different person.

        1. I’ve never observed any bias from Keith over the 9 years I’ve been visiting this site.

          Dont know what you’re on about.

        2. @neonracer – this could be an argument against the accusation of bias, using the “argumentum ad absurdum” approach. Or maybe it’s not tongue-in-cheek, it’s hard to tell.

    2. I’ve never seen Keith give a biased view in either direction of any driver! I never understand where this comes from. Indeed I find that F1Fanatic is one of the only F1 communities I don’t find regular bias from the editor.

      Find me one example of biased reporting on this site.

      1. I think he’s referring more to the desire of having a tyre war and for refueling to return.

      2. Apart from a slight nationalist-bias pro Palmer in last year’s drivers rankings, this site is consistently impartial, that’s why I’ve been following it for so long.

        As far as Hamilton is concerned, I’ve always read a pretty balanced view of him on this site.

    3. James, that’s ridiculous. I have to defend Keith here, because the evidence does NOT match your claims.

      If you want to see bias, look at David Croft on Sky F1. He’s got worse in recent years: he can’t even mention Hamilton in a positive light without mentioning something else that went horribly wrong. Listening to the Monaco practice commentary, and it was clear he was just trying to stir up the crowd with ever more controversial (and inaccurate claims).

      Keith doesn’t do that. Lay off.

      1. Just because David Croft’s (and Jackie Stewart’s) bias against Lewis Hamilton are off the charts obvious and disgraceful, does not mean that Keith is completely free of bias against him. IMO, it’s subtle but it is unquestionably there. His Grand Prix driver ratings for Hamilton over the years is probably the most obvious example of it.

        That said, Keith’s bias is not flagrant enough to stop me from visiting this website which he obviously pours his heart and soul into. By contrast, the enmity that both Croft and Stewart have for Hamilton is so blatant, unprofessional and uncalled for that I am no longer interested in anything they have to say. Ditto for Ben Edwards.

      2. Ian Laidler (@)
        27th May 2017, 11:20

        Talking of Sky F1 and David Croft, what about the drivel talked by Mathew Marsh, to the best of my knowledge he has never even sat in an F1 car and then has the nerve to come on TV and give us HIS expert opinion. This guy must be the worst ever F1 pundit in the history of the sport.

    4. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      27th May 2017, 0:49

      And this is why Hamilton fans are some of the worst ‘sports’ fans in the world. Always this we against the world mentality. Fantastic trump tactics there.

      @keithcollantine Feel sorry you have to deal with this.

      1. Ian Laidler (@)
        27th May 2017, 11:26

        You have a really strange outlook on life my friend.

  3. As expected. Hamilton is most activly promoting himself and F1 through social media.
    Also his competitors are losing out because: Fernando isn’t at the front, Kimi is simply disappointing and Seb isn’t on social media.

    1. Raikkonen and Vettel simply don’t care you mean.
      Where Hamilton (in previous seasons anyway) and Alonso are constantly shouting how they’re the greatest drivers to ever be Raikkonen and Vettel only care about results.

      1. Well said!

      2. Nice try, by which I mean pathetic try to smear their popularity.

        Neither Hamilton nor Alonso have stated that they’re the greatest drivers to ever be. They’re simply more willing to have an online presence and they’re more appreciated by the fans. Deal with it.

        1. Alonso has stated a couple of times that he believes he’s just as good as Senna and Prost.
          Hamilton more often than not talked down victories of Rosberg and Vettel. Fortunately, Hamilton seems to have become more humble and respectful to Vettel at least.
          And like I said, Raikkonen and Vettel simply don’t care. Who knows how popular they’d be if they too infested time and effort on social media. But I suppose they rather spent the time on things that actually matter like their families.

    2. He’s engaging with his fans and bringing them along on his journey, so you can see why he’s popular. Love him of hate him, he’s number 1.

      1. I’m no fan of LH’s personality, but I can understand his popularity.

    3. It does not have anything to do with social media. It has to do with the fact he is a Formula 1 driver.

    4. Hamilton is most activly promoting himself and F1 through social media

      That is the most irritating aspect of Hamilton’s personality, assuming that he’s got one. He may be a very good driver but his comments come across as someone with no class or intelligence. This moronic self-indulgence can get on some nerves.

      Seb isn’t on social media.

      Thank goodness for that! At least HE has some sense. Vettel more likely spends time working with his team to get the best results from the next race.

    5. knoxploration
      26th May 2017, 21:30

      The second part is the key here. All this survey confirms is that most people will either support (or claim to support) whomever is winning all the championships. For years, the Merc advantage has meant that’s mostly been Hamilton, and so the fans have moved in favor of him too.

    6. @me4me – I’d like to believe that some drivers have a view to a post-F1 career where having a popular social media profile is really valuable. However, I suspect some of them just need the adulation, and that’s okay by me.

  4. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    26th May 2017, 13:23

    Damn auto correct! Should’ve read:

    Gib Gas Michael Schumacher!

  5. Overly the last three years he has been very successful, although Rosberg beat him last year (but he has since retired). Whoever is winning tends to gather supporters – bet you Chelsea just picked up a few new supporters too…. if they can repeat that over multiple years suddenly everyone will be a Chelsea fan. If Vettel can pull off this Championship he will suddenly grow in popularity….

    Alonso is more interesting…. 2007 etc fading from peoples memory and the continuous self praise sinking in…

  6. Vettel is without doubt the most obliging when you meet him, signing autographs posing for photos etc. Hamilton is far less obliging unless a rolling camera is pointing his way. Alonso moody, Kimi moodiest.

    1. Massa is up there with Vettel, mustn’t forget to say that. Verstappen, Ricciardo great too

    2. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Proof please.

      1. Nothing extraordinary at all, just the truth

    3. knoxploration
      26th May 2017, 21:35

      No question that Vettel is the most humble everyman among the bunch, especially now that Button is basically retired, which the way he’s acting around this temporary comeback, it’s become pretty clear that he is. (Massa’s also pretty darned human, too, and I’d probably put him third after Button.)

      At the other end of the scale, I’d say Hamilton and Verstappen are probably the least humble on the current grid. You expect that from Verstappen because he’s extremely young and being told he’s the second coming. Hamilton, though, should have long since outgrown that by now. Credit where it’s due, though, he does finally seem to be showing more signs of his humanity lately, perhaps having been humbled by Rosberg last year.

      1. Vettel most humble? Oh for God sake where do people get off making up this rubbish.

        Vettel isn’t a superior human to anybody else and and every f1 driver appreciates the support they from formula 1 fans.

        Many other drivers give back to fans and Vettel is no different in that regard.

        Lol. More humble. Im sorry, do you follow every f1 driver around in their day to day lives and observe exactly how they all behave in their personal lives? Because if you don’t then its quite clear that you don’t have a clue who is more humble than anybody else and you are just making your own biased assumptions.

        It’s the same rubbish from f1 fans all the time. Attack a drivers character if you can’t attack his driving.

        1. @neonracer I’ve met quite a couple of them and would definitely agree with his statement. Except for the fact you don’t seem to like Vettel do you have any evidence that would support the opposite?

    4. I don’t know about that. Camera rolling or not Hamilton has made a name for himself spending extra time with fans over the years.

      I mean it’s not that much of a sacrifice is it? PR strategy for any famous person is to spend an extra 5 mins to half an hour with fans. Hamilton has done this countless times.

      1. l can only give my own personal experiences.

    5. Fran – “Hamilton is far less obliging unless a rolling camera is pointing his way” doesn’t match my experience. According to what I have seen and what others have said, he spends lots of time talking to fans, signing things and having photos taken, often really early at the track entrance. Some of the other drivers do the same, mostly unsung, definitely not for TV publicity. They want to recruit fans and some also feel it is a duty. Of course, some of it is part of the contract – search for “Fans’ day at Monaco”.

  7. By far? It’s a bad word. He got barely over a fifth of the vote and only 2.4 points in front of next-best Alonso. And that’s after three years of winning a lot while others barely fought for victory. It’s not hard to see how popularity changes with the amount of success.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      26th May 2017, 14:32

      @michal2009b The last bit raises an interesting point…. Will Hamilton’s easy success really gain him more fans?

      I’m English and was a big Hamilton fan all throughout the time where Vettel was winning easily. If not Hamilton, I wanted anyone other than Vettel to win.

      Fast forward a few years and the roles have completely reversed. I want anyone but Hamilton to win – ideally Vettel so we get an exciting Championship.

      1. Will Hamilton’s easy success really gain him more fans?

        From the article:

        More than twice as many people ranked Hamilton as their favourite driver compared to two years ago.

        @petebaldwin In other words, yes :P

        1. @petebaldwin @hugh11

          Yes, especially since Kimi and Alonso haven’t won for four years and JB no longer there to pick off the British votes. Though I must say I was quite surprised to see Hamilton so low in 2015. Anyway, I think Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Vettel (and now-retired JB) have solid fan bases each. It is more diverse than MotoGP where Rossi rules the fans and Lorenzo and Marquez virtually makes up the rest.

  8. Lehonard Euler
    26th May 2017, 13:49

    The most interesting bit is under “Fans’ Preference for Formula 1 Sporting Changes”: Most voted is to have more than 1 tyre supplier (which I find it difficult due to the costs involved); but second is “bring back V8 engines” -and I count myself in thos ranks. “Bring back refuelling” comes as a close thrid

  9. what’s the nationality participation percentages, I feel it would impact the results massively.

  10. Keith Crossley
    26th May 2017, 13:59

    The headline topic is cool; but there’s a lot more in there if you read the report. Very encouraging.

  11. I suspect that ‘divisive’ would be a more appropriate word than ‘popular’.

  12. Hamilton definitely has a lot of fans, but he’s certainly divisive too. I don’t think I know anyone who likes him at all (in Australia, for reference), and we were all rooting for Rosberg for those Mercedes-dominated years.

    1. Forgot to add, I think a truly popular driver is someone who has a lot of fans and, generally speaking, universally liked. Daniel Ricciardo comes to mind (ok, possibly Australian bias coming in here), maybe Jenson Button is another example.

    2. I’m Australian and i definitely wasn’t rooting for Rosberg. Ham isn’t THAT hated here in my experience. Agree on Ric and Button tho

    3. Schumacher was extremely divisive, and certainly NOT universally loved either.

  13. Hmm… this leaves some questions: Can we count people who support customer cars as F1 fans? How can anyone who lived through 15 years of refuelling want it back? And is it clear that any return to competition in tyres neccessarily means bringing at least 3-4 suppliers in? Because if it is only 2 tyre suppliers we limit the number of potential top teams to 2.

  14. A diminished percentage of Asian voters explains the result. Kimi is still the most popular driver all around Asia and Japan and China are huge markets so I reckon Kimi is still probably the most popular driver worldwide.

    Next time when they release a survey like this it should be posted on standalone website with various different language options. The results might look completely different. Now it was only accessible in English via English motorsport news site. Not the most professional way to do it.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      26th May 2017, 19:12

      Don’t think Motorsport care about ‘professional’… it seems to have morphed into an exercise in self-promotion for “the world’s biggest motorsport media network”, with a little survey tagged on the end.

  15. I think Raikkonen’s popularity is waning slightly. He rode high on the success of his return to Lotus, and no one else can quite raise a smile like Kimi over the radio but his results since 2014 have proven hard to defend for even his most die hard fan.

    Fair play to him for not having been afraid to go up against two of the best, and I think once he leaves and we get to see someone else against a truly on form Vettel it will show how little of a chance he stood.

    1. Yet how many Vettel fans would burst into tears if he crashed out of a race? And would he take the time to meet such a fan and have his picture taken with them?

      1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
        26th May 2017, 19:30

        5 years old or so. If I were 5 again, I would cry.
        And then I’m sure Vettel would take the time to take pictures with me.
        See the (terrible) attitude of fans (or stalkers?) with Sebastian at the Australian airport before AND after the race. There were people taking many, many pictures with Seb, and practically obliging him to sign memorabilia, yet Gentleman Seb never stopped smiling, never refused to sign for a hundreth time.
        Don’t ask for source, it was all around the web during Aussie GP times. I guess there are some videos of it on Youtube.

      2. @drycrust Yeah, must’ve been painful for Raikkonen to take 4 seconds out of his day to pose for a photo. What a true gentleman like no other!

      3. @drycrust I find it quite naive if you really thought the kid was crying for Kimi, had it been Vettel (the other Ferrari) I’m almost certain the kid would’ve cried too, and Vettel would’ve done the same…

        1. @xtwl Yes, I have to agree, I thought the child was probably upset by something entirely different, in which case he’d have been upset regardless of whether Kimi crashed out of the race or not.

      4. @drycrust – having enjoyed reading your comments for quite a while now, this one really surprised me. I hope you’re not having a bad day.

  16. petebaldwin (@)
    26th May 2017, 15:13

    I don’t know when this survey was taken. Was Jenson out of the sport by then? If so, I wonder how many Brits have gone from Jenson to Lewis?

  17. All the more evidence that BRDC needs to pull the trigger on the Silverstone exit-clause. If they think that ticket revenue doesn’t cover the sanction fee today, just wait until Hamilton is no longer racing.

  18. As a neutral, I can’t see why Hamilton would appeal to anyone non-british. He is ostentatious and only says formulaic stuff nobody wants to hear.

    “I would first like to thank the fans in (insert country), you are so amazing and wonderful. Thanks for coming out today.”

    1. It’s called being polite. It costs nothing to do, and yet is rewarding to those who do it as most people respond positively to those who are polite.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      26th May 2017, 15:54

      I’ve not really heard it in F1 before but in football circles, the phrase would be “glory supporters.” They are people who support whoever they believe has the best chance of winning….

      If all current F1 drivers were equally good, came from the same nation but had their existing, individual personalities, Hamilton wouldn’t be in the top 10 most supported drivers.

      1. @petebaldwin

        Those types of supporters do exist, but you are doing rather a discredit there to the many Hamilton fans who are old school appreciators of talent. I first started following him when he was doing Cadet Karting, because even then, it was clear to see a rare talent was emerging. Plenty of us were still fans as he dealt with a pathetically off the pace McLaren in early 2009, and I am sure many will still hang in there if and when he finds himself in uncompetitive machinery again.

        1. @paulguitar – I heard of Hamilton through GP2 gossip and went back to find out who he was. Then of course he arrived in GP2 and was astonishing, highs and lows. He continues to entertain and amaze. As a result of having missed the early stuff, I started to watch karting more often. I really enjoyed GP2 last year and I’m mildly perplexed by Lance Stroll’s apparent inability to make his car shine; it may take him more that a season, which puts him into dangerous territory. I suppose Hamilton had the advantage of lots of testing and a decent car.

    3. Here in the US, Hamilton’s popularity is unrivaled and I’m always pleasantly surprised to find out friends of mine (who know nothing about f1 let alone watch any racing) follow him on various social media accounts and are fans of what he does outside of the car.

    4. It’s pretty simple – he puts himself about the most.

      Bernie always loved him because of this. Always happy to promote himself, and along with that, the sport.

    5. Hamilton’s popular in Brazil. Mostly because of his competitive driving over the years. I imagine that’s fairly widespread. Ferrari drivers also tend to be popular.

    6. Hamilton comes across as a very professional driver, not in just how he drives his car, but also in how he presents himself. If there is a lack of popularity for him where I live it isn’t because of who he is, it is because F1 prefers to have a low and insignificant profile here.

    7. Yes, but!
      Firstly Hamilton’s comments mainly follow the script approved by the PR Department, so what he says post race can be discounted.
      Secondly and something I haven’t seen mentioned here yet, is that Hamilton is the first identifiable mixed-race driver to succeed big time. I remember being so proud of him when he first was confirmed as a McLaren driver, I felt that it was a similar step to Tiger Woods winning or even Barak Obama winning the presidency.
      But I also share the concerns of some of the posters here about the location and makeup of the sample taken.

  19. I think mostly what we can infer from the data is that people like to support the winning teams.

    You can see that from the increase in Redbull support over the years, the decrease in McLaren Support, the decrease in Renault support. Williams popularity surged when they showed a lot of competitiveness at the beginning of the hybrid era, but have since slumped.

    I’m not sure if this is new people coming into the sport and naturally gravitating towards the top teams or just fickle fans, but it would certainly be interesting to have the raw data to be able to do a proper analysis.

  20. Duncan Snowden
    26th May 2017, 16:02

    I’m always suspicious of surveys that post big headlines about percentage increases or decreases over the last one taken, rather than raw results or longer-term trends. 24% more say F1 is “exciting” than in 2015; 14% more say it’s “competitive”, they shout. Well, it’s hard to tell from their simplistic charts, but it looks like only around 5% more respondents say it’s “exciting” compared to 2010, and 12-13% fewer say it’s “competitive”. Although the responses saying it’s “boring” are massively down on 2015, they’re also actually slightly up on 2010.

    And let’s not forget, none of this can be taken as a clear vindication of the 2017 rule changes: the survey was taken after one race. These results must be considered to reflect at least as much, if not in fact a lot more, on last season.

    And let’s look at some of the numbers they’d rather not shout from the rooftops. More fans are saying F1 is too expensive for them. More are watching only the race and ignoring pre- and post-race shows. (Reported) TV audiences overall are down 25%. 40% are watching less F1 due to pay TV.

    There’s been a bulk order of rose-tinted specs over there at Motorsport.com, I think.

    PS: I remember this bugging me at the time. Why was there no option for “PC” in the gaming platforms question? I mean, they included Project Cars, Assetto Corsa, rFactor, etc. as options for what you’re actually playing. Seems weird.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      26th May 2017, 16:22

      That’s the great thing with figures and stats – you can make them say whatever you want them to! It’s all about the information you leave out….

  21. I am most interested by the final chart representing the fans’ preferences for sporting changes, it’s quite amazing to see how fans have come to accept DRS whilst wishing good riddance to rapidly degrading tyres. Back in 2011-12, the sentiment was that DRS was toxic and it was the degrading tyres that were primarily responsible for the improved racing, even with the concerns over tyre management. I guess when the quality of racing soured from 2013, the end of degrading tyres was inevitable.

    However I take this survey with a pinch of salt considering there are tens of millions of Formula One fans, I sincerely hope this does not have too much of an influence of the future of the sport.

  22. Something like this depends upon how a survey is done. For instance, if one does a survey of the “best party to lead Britain” among 100,000 Brits, the result will depend upon whether your are in inner city Bradford or rural Devon. If they choose to, surveyors can skew the results.

    I know plenty of circles where Hamilton is seen as bit of a yob. It all depends on several variables.

  23. I think nobody mentioned, but I was surprised that people wants to see refuelling back. From my perspective, races were always more interesting in the non-refuelling eras. If we could only change the rule about mandatory Pits stops, then we will be good.

    1. @mmertens – agreed, but for slightly different reasons. From the German Grand Prix, 1994: crewman on fire and Jos Verstappen also on fire.

  24. I still don’t get why people would want a tyre war.
    I see one side it is cool to get it, so we get more difference from week to week.
    BUT, what I remember from the tyre war, was the bigger teams (Ferrari nr 1) getting a perfect tyre for them.
    And a result, a VERY big gap and very boring races..
    A tyre is too important to be too different imo.

    1. But tire competitions haven’t always been that way. You are recalling the MS’s/Ferrari era when F1 itself was skewed toward MS shattering all the records, at the cost of good racing. So at a time of unlimited money and testing Ferrai even had a Bridgestone headquarters at their own private track, so MS got designer tires for his designer car.

      Conditions are not the same, nor will they likely ever be that way again, so for that reason I am all for a tire competition. It’s no more a ‘war’ than any other aspect of F1. Do we call it a driver war? A team war? An engine war?

  25. Who in the world would want in-race refuelling back to F1? It was detrimental to on-track overtaking, so it wouldn’t improve the quality of racing.

    1. @jerejj Personally I would like to see refuelling back, as would most people I know who follow F1. It’s a quick way to make cars faster overall and particularly at the start of the race and it adds another dimension to strategies.

      It’s also something else to do in pit stops which I used to love watching when I was younger when I would count the seconds/litres to see how long they were going to go.

      1. Refueling was terrible for F1. we got barely any on-track racing.

        The worst insult of all was ‘fuel corrected qualifying’. Almost unbelievable.

  26. Charts 2.3 and 3.2 were particularly informative

  27. F1 like golf is a old boys club and if it doesn’t change just like golf it’s viewership/participation/relevance will continue to drop just like golf. Move with the times or get left behind.

  28. My parents didn’t have food to put on the table when i was little so i went to school sometimes without eating .It really makes me sick when i hear Hamilton the popular talks about how hard hi’s life was because he didn’t have a cooler kart like the the rich kids . Other than that he’s ok .

    1. Surely Kimi registers higher on the knobometer

    2. Your reaction to what you supposedly quoted from Hamilton is weird. He went to school hungry and he’s had three jobs. How is that a bad thing???

  29. The survey wouldn’t load for me this year (unlike last year), so I didn’t get to contribute to the survey. I was surprised to discover Mercedes were so popular in the UK, as I’ve yet to see anyone sporting Mercedes support gear away from a racing circuit (Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren, on the other hand…) Still, Mercedes has done a lot of work for that status on social media, so it makes sense from that aspect.

    The main conclusion for me is that F1 is no longer seen as a series in crisis. If the most popular changes only command less than 40% of the audience, it suggests that problems, although still many and visible, aren’t dominating the racing. That is progress.

  30. Maybe I am missing something but this poll seems to be deceptive.
    For it to be anywhere close to meaningful, the total amount of votes from each country cast should be given and nationality would give it even more integrity.
    Example: if Spain (or those of Spanish descent) accounted for 50,000 of the votes, and Germany 30,000, of course Alonso would get more votes than Vettel and so on.

  31. 1,000,000,000 flies can’t be wrong…

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