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F1 Has Never Been So Big, But Is It At The Expense of The Fans?

Written by Benjamin Crundwell, Edited by Meghana Sree


Since Liberty Media bought Formula One in 2016, there have been record attendances at race weekends, a growing television audience, greater sponsorship, and most significantly, a huge increase in revenue. In 2022, F1 produced 2.573 billion US Dollars- up 437 million from 2021. Consequently, profit grew by an incredible 333%, reaching 173 million US Dollars.

Credit - Autosport

On the surface, the viewership figures show a more popular sport, but the data doesn’t tell us everything. While there is a rapid increase in new fans to the sport, there is also a parallel decrease in long-time fans of the sport. This is because Liberty Media is targeting a different audience, by trying to put on such a show. Most noticeably in Abu Dhabi 2021, a controversial decision was made that valued entertainment over the integrity of the sport, dividing many fans and driving some away. Unsurprisingly in 2022, there was a loss in viewership.


Furthermore, the mass increase in popularity of the sport has forced prices to inflate. According to f1destinations.com, ticket prices have risen by 56% since 2019. To say tickets for some venues are simply touching the thousands would be an understatement, as Las Vegas is selling tickets for over $1500. Moreover where some fans would choose to go to a session on Friday, for a practice session due to significantly cheaper tickets, this opportunity is also being taken away as sprint races are being introduced to bring more action to the weekend and creating a Friday Qualifying session, thereby enabling higher prices. Although this is only for a few races a year at the moment, Stefano Domenicali recently said: “F1 needs less practice, and more points-paying sessions”.

Credit - F1's Official Website

The drive for profit in F1 and the FIA never seems to go away, with it constantly influencing their actions and leading to unpopular decisions being taken. This is seen prominently in planning the season calendar. Great tracks such as Hockenheim have been replaced by tracks in the Middle East, and America. Although some of these tracks have been a success like Bahrain, COTA, and Jeddah, the remaining majority have proved to be boring and plain in the opinion of most fans. Additionally, F1 is pushing for more and more races each year, so much so that even F1 personnel and drivers are complaining.


As sports is a business, one can’t complain about the need for profit. However, the tactics for accruing the same can be questioned. While the growth of F1 from targeting profit is working in the short term, Liberty Media is playing a risky game by prioritising money over the actual sport. Max Verstappen recently claimed he would retire at 30 if the industry continues down the same path, indicating that the teams and drivers are no less frustrated than fans, and it won’t be long before the long term consequences come to impact Liberty Media for their short term greed.


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