Start, Yas Marina, 2021

Over 100 million watched F1’s 2021 finale

2021 F1 season

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Worldwide TV audiences for Formula 1 topped 1.5 billion in total over the course of the 2021 season, according to Formula One.

The series said F1 experienced growth in all areas – especially online, where it is claimed F1 was the “fastest growing major sports league on the planet” – over the course of the year.

Television viewership for grands prix averaged 70.3 million viewers in 2021. In markets where like-for-like broadcasting arrangements were maintained between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, viewing figures were higher than any season since 2013. The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix reached 84.5 million.

Unsurprisingly, the championship-decider in Abu Dhabi attracted the biggest audience, where 108.7 million people watched Max Verstappen pip Lewis Hamilton to the title in a controversial finish.

Spanish viewers accounted for one of the biggest increases of TV viewership, increasing by 272% year-on-year compared to 2020 – likely aided by the return of double world champion Fernando Alonso to the grid. With Russian rookie Nikita Mazepin debuting in the champions, Russian TV audiences increased by 129% compared to 2020, while audience levels in the United States continued to increase by 53%.

For individual unique television viewers – individual viewers that tuned into at least one race in 2021 – China accounted for the biggest proportion of viewership, with 70.8 million unique viewers.

Online, Formula 1 increased its overall social media followers by 40% over 2020, covering Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, SnapChat, Twitch, Weibo, WeChat, Toutiao and Douyin. Video views across all video sharing platforms increased by 50% to cross the 7 billion total views mark.

Formula 1 reported healthy viewing figures for 2021
At the track, circuits began to open their gates to fans once again following the easing of Covid protections made necessary by the pandemic. A total of 2.69 million ticketholders attended Formula 1 race weekend events throughout the 2021 season, with the United States Grand Prix attracting the biggest attendance of 400,000. The Mexico City Grand Prix drew the second-highest attendance figure of 371,000, with the British Grand Prix – the first race held with unrestricted attendance since the onset of the pandemic – receiving 356,000 fans.

Formula One CEO, Stefano Domenicali, said the announced figures for 2021 showed the “momentum” that the sport was experiencing.

“We began to welcome back our fans who are the heart and soul of our sport and although we were limited in our capacities due to Covid, it was fantastic to see 2.6 million fans in the grandstands around the world,” Domenicali said.

“We have also seen some very strong figures across broadcast and our digital platforms, showing once again the momentum, excitement and interest that is all around Formula 1. We are looking forward to our record-breaking 23 race season this year, with new cars, new regulations, and a new challenge for all the teams and drivers. I know all of our fans can’t wait to get the season started.”

The 2022 Formula 1 championship begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday 20th March.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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23 comments on “Over 100 million watched F1’s 2021 finale”

  1. The 70 million viewers of 2021 are not comparable to the figures of 2013, since the way the viewers are measured have changed since 2018. In stead of the 15 minute consecutive watching as was used before 2018, now only 3 minutes of consecutive watching is enough.

    So it is impossible to tell if the number of viewers are higher or not. I guess not.

    1. Good and important context while viewing these numbers!

      I am sure its just coincidental that this definition change which artificially increases numbers happened few years after the move to pay TV which really (not artificially) reduces numbers :)

    2. the way the viewers are measured have changed since 2018. In stead of the 15 minute consecutive watching as was used before 2018, now only 3 minutes of consecutive watching is enough.

      @silfen would you ind sharing the source of this information please?

      1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend I think Dieter Rencken mentioned it a couple of years ago on this site and also Christian Sylt of Forbes.

    3. Lol 3 mins is probably someone just channel flicking during an ad break waiting for their show to come back on.

  2. It’s probably the best thing that could ever happen the sport after 7 or so dull years of semi interest at best. Of course there were exciting moments dotted throughout those years, but they were few and far between and not worth the hours of boredom watching a championship that was near enough nailed on after the opening weekend. Not Mercedes fault, the rules allowed them to dominate and the other teams couldn’t step up. There was just too much of an advantage by being out in front with the aero packages of old. If they crack this new set of rules we should hopefully see proper championship battles like 2021 more often and with more teams and driver’s involved. They have to get it right to sustain this renewed interest in F1.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      17th February 2022, 13:07

      A huge amount is riding on the new regs in terms of Liberty’s plan to grow the sport and it’s audience. If we go back the dull, dull stuff we had last generation (excluding the final season), they’ll lose a lot of the new fans they’ve picked up. If it’s another exciting year or two, it could be enough to get a bunch more people hooked and then they’re more likely to hang around when we have another boring spell.

    1. Reflects change of casting a large net with free to air broadcasting, vis a vis targeted premium streaming/pay tv. FOM very happy with the number now vs then. “Quality” of viewer demographic much higher now. (Age, mobility, income level, willingness to travel and attend races, etc) Night and day. Toyota sells far more vehicles than Tesla, but look at the valuations of both companies. This is the way the game is played now.

  3. I’d be interested to see the viewing figures for Abu Dhabi and Silverstone in the UK (as they were both Free To Air on Channel 4), particularly compared to Silverstone in 2019 and 2020 (only FTA races in those years), the average live Channel 4 audience in 2018 (their last year of regular FTA) and Abu Dhabi in 2016 (the last FTA title decider).

  4. 100 million? That’s great way to showcase the unsportsmanlike conduct and refereeing for new viewers. Good job!

    1. yeah.. 100 million viewers tuning in to watch history being made, instead they’re left scratching their heads wondering, what the hell happened there?

      1. History was made ;)

        1. Yep, first time the Race Director threw the rulebook out of the window in the last laps of a championship-deciding finale and made something up which handed the result to a competitor on a silver platter ;)

          1. Speaking of a ‘slilver platter’ I wonder if Mercedes will return to their silver arrows. Any word on their new livery?

  5. 100 million people witnesses 1 of F1s BIGGEST f€$¥¢ ups for a final race and championship decider. Well done F1 its called motor racing…

    1. There are lots of videos on YouTube showing people watching the final laps in different countries, you won’t enjoy them.

    2. At the same time i’m left wondering if this year’s decision not to take the knee , or demonstrate that show of unity, would have happened if Hamilton had won the championship. Its like, now he’s no longer the reigning champion we can stop doing this.

      1. Why would it? He said very early last year that it had run its course. From what little I have read these initiatives were being pushed by someone within the FIA who has now left.

  6. But; I wonder what the percentage is that will never watch again due to the way the last race was handled!

    1. Not much.. just look at the many youtubes form around the world.
      I guess 90% really enjoyed the season finale and 10% disappointed. 1% of that last group still repeats the same story..

      But YMMV

  7. Expected it to be quite a high figure… I don’t know anyone who watches F1 ‘full time’ (used to, but they’ve all gradually dropped away in the post-Sky years) but quite a lot of my friends and workmates watched Abu Dhabi as it was free-to-air.

    None of them have any interest in watching again, as far as I can tell, but a viewer’s a viewer…

  8. Netflix. Yep…..they brought my wife and I and now we are addicted. Thank them. AND….too much fuss about that last race. I liked the final lap drama. Many times the rules are interpreted and like a football game …one needs to just walk away and not worry about firing the referees.

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