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Formula 1 Fandom is Accelerating in the U.S.

2 minute read | October 2018

With events in 21 countries across five continents, Formula 1 racing is a popular global motorsport with a fan base of more than 500 million.

While most popular in Europe and South America, Formula 1 is gaining ground in North America. The series currently travels to North America three times for the U.S. Grand Prix and Mexican Grand Prix in October and the Canadian Grand Prix in June.   

The U.S. Grand Prix returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2012 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Other venues have included Indianapolis, Indiana (2000-2007); Phoenix, Ariz. (1989-1991); Watkins Glen, N.Y. (1961-1980); Riverside, Calif. (1960) and Sebring, Fla. (1959).

Americans’ interest in the popular global motorsport has grown since the return of Formula 1 racing to U.S. soil. Several months before the U.S. Grand Prix was first held at Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 interest among Americans was 17%, according to Nielsen SportsDNA. The fan-tracking survey shows a rise this year, with 21% saying they were “very interested” or “somewhat interested” as of May of 2018. Peak interest was in 2016, several months after American-owned Haas F1 began fielding a two-car team.

The majority of Formula 1 fans in the U.S. are males between the ages of 25 and 44 and more likely than the general population to have an annual household income of $75,000 or more.

It should be no surprise that Austin, the local market that plays host to the U.S. Grand Prix, has the highest concentration of Formula 1 fans within the U.S., according to Nielsen Scarborough research. Indianapolis, home to INDYCAR headquarters, is also among the top five markets based on the percentage of the population interested in Formula 1.

No American driver has competed in Formula 1 since 2015. According to Gracenote Sports, Alexander Rossi, who began the 2015 season as a reserve driver, was the last American participant in a U.S. Grand Prix. Scott Speed is the only other American driver to participate since 1990.

Great Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has won five out of six of the U.S. Grands Prix held in Austin with Sebastian Vettel (Germany) winning the other one.

The Formula 1 Pirelli U.S. Grand Prix will be held Oct. 19-21 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

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