Formula 1, is not about the Cars!

Anybody that knows me is that I have always been and more so in the last 3 years or so a Formula 1 geek and I have seen an astonishing evolution of this Sport that is worth looking at and taking a few take-aways from. It is more than just 22 or so cars going round in circles for 50 or so times, and is worldwide quickly becoming the most popular sport.
Graph of Sport Popularity

A (not so brief) History Of F1

Formula 1 or  F1, is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. It has a rich and storied history that spans over seven decades.

The roots of Formula 1 can be traced back to the early 20th century when automobile racing began to gain popularity, particularly in Europe. However, the modern era of Formula 1 officially began in 1950 with the inaugural Formula One World Championship. The first race of the championship took place at Silverstone Circuit in the UK.

Formula 1 has seen eras of evolution. During the 1950s and 1960s, Technological advancements during this period led to innovations such as the introduction of mid-engine designs and aerodynamic improvements. The 1970s witnessed fierce competition between drivers, while technological innovations continued to shape the sport. Ground-effect aerodynamics and turbocharged engines became prominent features during this decade.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the dominance of drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, and Michael Schumacher. Popularity by means of television makes these names very familiar, even with individuals who are not into the sport. The era also saw advancements in safety standards following tragic accidents.

In the 21st century, Formula 1 has continued to evolve, with new challenges and opportunities emerging. The introduction of hybrid power units in 2014 marked a significant shift towards greener technologies, while changes in regulations have aimed to improve competition and enhance the spectacle of racing.

Formula 1 has also expanded its global reach, with races held on circuits across the world, from traditional venues in Europe to new destinations in Asia and the Middle East. The sport’s popularity has grown exponentially, attracting millions of fans worldwide and becoming one of the most-watched sporting events globally.

Why do we need F1?

Same as the Space Station program, it is hard to understand the value yet NASA has produced a book to explain what benefit this program has provided us. Improvements in this sport trickle down. These advancements have had a significant impact on road cars, making them safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable to drive. To name a few;

Safety Innovations, such as crumple zones, energy-absorbing materials, and advanced helmet designs, have been adapted for use in road cars, reducing the risk of injury in accidents.

Aerodynamics, advancements have led to more efficient designs that reduce drag and improve stability, enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions in road cars.

Hybrid Powertrains, many road cars now feature hybrid or electric powertrains inspired by F1 innovations, offering improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

Materials and Lightweighting, F1 teams use advanced materials such as carbon fiber and titanium. These lightweight materials have been adopted in the construction of road cars, contributing to improved performance, handling, and fuel efficiency.

Braking Systems, development of carbon-ceramic brake technology in F1 has led to improvements in braking performance, durability, and fade resistance in road cars, enhancing safety and driving dynamics.

…. and I loooooveee it!

Liberty media Era

In January 2017, Liberty Media Corporation completed its acquisition of Formula 1, marking a significant milestone in the sport’s history. The takeover signaled the end of Bernie Ecclestone’s long reign as the chief executive of Formula 1, with Chase Carey appointed as the new Chairman and CEO.

The acquisition by Liberty Media brought about several changes and initiatives aimed at revitalizing and expanding the Formula 1 brand. This changed from just Motosport into an entertainment spectacle:

  1. Digital Expansion: One of Liberty Media’s key objectives was to enhance Formula 1’s digital presence and engagement with fans. This included the launch of new digital platforms, streaming services, and social media initiatives to provide fans with more access to content and behind-the-scenes insights.
  2. Commercial Growth: Liberty Media sought to boost Formula 1’s commercial appeal by renegotiating television broadcast deals, securing new sponsorship agreements, and exploring opportunities for expansion into new markets. Efforts were made to attract more sponsors and partners to the sport, as well as to improve the overall fan experience at races.
  3. Regulatory Changes: Under Liberty Media’s ownership, Formula 1 underwent regulatory changes aimed at improving competition and reducing costs for teams. This included the introduction of new technical and sporting regulations, such as the implementation of budget caps and the development of more sustainable engine technologies.
  4. Fan Engagement: Recognizing the importance of fan engagement, Liberty Media focused on enhancing the spectator experience both at the track and through various digital platforms. Initiatives such as fan festivals, interactive experiences, and fan forums were introduced to bring fans closer to the sport and its participants.
  5. Expansion into New Markets: Liberty Media explored opportunities to expand Formula 1’s presence into new markets, including the addition of new races in countries such as Vietnam and the United States. Efforts were also made to strengthen Formula 1’s foothold in key markets like China and the Middle East.

Overall, the takeover of Formula 1 by Liberty Media represented a new chapter for the sport, with a renewed focus on innovation, growth, and engagement. While the full impact of these changes is still unfolding, the acquisition has undoubtedly brought about a shift in the way Formula 1 is managed, marketed, and experienced by fans around the world.

Netflix and Drive to Survive

Drive to Survive is a documentary series produced by Netflix that has played a significant role in popularising and improving the visibility of Formula 1. Here’s how the series has achieved this:
  1. Access to Behind-the-Scenes Footage: “Drive to Survive” provides unprecedented access to the inner workings of Formula 1 teams, drivers, and key personnel. Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at the intense rivalries, emotional highs and lows, and the day-to-day operations of teams and drivers, offering insights into the human side of the sport that were previously unseen.
  2. Compelling Storytelling: The series employs compelling storytelling techniques to engage viewers and draw them into the world of Formula 1. By focusing on the personal and professional journeys of drivers and teams throughout the season, “Drive to Survive” creates emotional connections with its audience, regardless of their familiarity with the sport.
  3. Drama and Intrigue: Formula 1 is inherently dramatic, with high stakes and intense competition on and off the track. “Drive to Survive” capitalizes on this drama, highlighting the rivalries, conflicts, and controversies that unfold throughout the season, making each episode a gripping and entertaining experience.
  4. Global Reach: Netflix’s vast global reach has helped to introduce Formula 1 to new audiences around the world. The accessibility of the series on the streaming platform has allowed fans and non-fans alike to discover and engage with the sport, increasing its popularity and relevance on a global scale.
  5. Seasonal Format: By releasing new seasons of “Drive to Survive” annually, Netflix has helped to keep Formula 1 in the public eye during the offseason. The series generates excitement and anticipation for the upcoming season, serving as a marketing tool for the sport and keeping fans engaged year-round.
  6. Cinematic Production Values: “Drive to Survive” features high production values and cinematic storytelling techniques that elevate the viewing experience. From stunning visuals to immersive sound design, the series captures the adrenaline-fueled excitement and glamor of Formula 1, appealing to both die-hard fans and casual viewers.

Overall, “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” has played a crucial role in improving and popularizing Formula 1 by offering unprecedented access, compelling storytelling, global reach, and cinematic production values that captivate audiences and showcase the sport in a new and exciting light. This was the biggest strike of genius by Liberty Media and Netflix with massive growth after the show started airing.
Drive to Survive Popularity Graph

The Takeaways

The history of Formula 1 indeed offers invaluable lessons, and your summary encapsulates some of the key takeaways succinctly.
  1. Long-Term Strategy is Key: Formula 1 is a sport where success is not achieved overnight. Teams and drivers must develop long-term strategies encompassing various aspects such as car design, team management, and race tactics. Similarly, businesses and individuals can learn from this approach by prioritizing long-term planning and vision over short-term gains. Consistency, perseverance, and adaptability are essential ingredients for success in both Formula 1 and other endeavors.
  2. Diversification into Multimedia – TV & Digital: Formula 1 has successfully diversified its presence beyond the racetrack by embracing multimedia platforms such as television and digital media. Broadcasting races to millions of viewers worldwide and engaging with fans through digital channels have significantly enhanced the sport’s reach and popularity. This diversification strategy not only generates additional revenue streams but also ensures sustained fan engagement and brand exposure. Likewise, businesses can benefit from diversifying their operations and embracing digital platforms to reach broader audiences and adapt to changing consumer preferences.
  3. Investment Creates Growth: Formula 1 thrives on continuous investment in technology, infrastructure, and talent. Teams invest heavily in research and development to gain a competitive edge, while race organizers invest in modernizing circuits and enhancing the overall fan experience. This culture of investment fosters innovation, drives technological advancements, and fuels growth within the sport. Similarly, businesses must recognize the importance of strategic investments in areas such as research, development, marketing, and employee development to fuel long-term growth and competitiveness.

In essence, the history of Formula 1 serves as a compelling case study demonstrating the significance of long-term planning, diversification, and strategic investment in achieving sustainable success. By applying these principles, both within the realm of motorsport and beyond, individuals and organizations can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and drive towards their goals with confidence.

Now, what is your strategy? Reach out and we would be happy to chat.