The fastest motorsport series is looking forward to an exciting world championship fight and high TV ratings. But you are also open to new things.
There isn't much to complain about right now. With the duel between Verstappen and Hamilton, Formula 1 is experiencing one of the most exciting seasons in recent years; with McLaren suddenly a third team is at the forefront; when the spectators return to the tracks, the enthusiasm is revived.
A technical rule revolution should make Formula 1 more sporty from 2022 and, above all, make overtaking easier. The premier class of motorsport is not only experiencing constant change in terms of technology.
That was not always so. A keeper of the traditions was Bernie Ecclestone. The now 90-year-old Brit paid meticulous attention to the fact that (moving) images from the paddock were only shown on TV channels that also paid high fees.
In 2021, the TV ratings increased again compared to the previous year. Newcomer ServusTV is celebrating record reach with Formula 1, 500,000 to 700,000 people watch race after race at ORF with an enormously high market share of up to 50 percent.
But for a few years now, Formula 1 has ceased to be a pure TV sport. “We owe a lot to the classic media,” says Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali. “But we have to be open to how the world has changed.” For example …
The excitement at Formula 1 was initially limited when the streaming giant Netflix began filming “Drive to Survive” in the paddock. But the documentary was a complete success and opened up a new audience for Formula 1. Suddenly the sport is an issue for adolescents and young adults. The third season premiered on March 19, 2021. The documentary “Schumacher” was also released on Netflix last week.
Under Ecclestone, the drivers and teams weren't even allowed to post videos from the paddock. This picture has changed completely. “The younger audience is multi-networked,” says Domenicali. “We have to make sure that we don't miss any opportunities.” Young drivers like Lando Norris, George Russell and Charles Leclerc are becoming the new social media stars alongside Lewis Hamilton. Only Sebastian Vettel is still successfully defending himself against making his life public on the Internet.
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Formula 1 surprised TV viewers at the Belgian Grand Prix with spectacular images. The camera in Fernando Alonso's helmet provided impressive images and new insights. In Monza, Williams driver George Russell even drove qualifying and sprint races with the helmet camera, which weighs only 2.5 grams. “Anything that improves entertainment and provides more information is good,” says Williams team principal Jost Capito. “Something like that has to be tried out, and then it should be in everyone's car.” Then there would also be no need to discuss whether teams with cameras are at a disadvantage, since important information on the dashboard in the cockpit could reach the competition via the images.
For some fans it would be a dream: the fastest driver starts from the back, the weakest from the front. Spectacular races are guaranteed. But this thought does not go down well with those responsible. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff dismissed the idea as a pure show spectacle and compared it with wrestling, Red Bull motorsport director Helmut Marko even spoke of an “absurd” idea. In fact, it is questionable whether the winner of a reverse grid race would actually be a worthy winner.
Start on the hour
The excitement among the fans was great when the start time for most of the European Grands Prix was moved to October 15 in 2018. This ten minute lead time should enable TV stations in the USA in particular to start their reporting on the hour. But purists never made friends with the innovation. It has now been clear since 2021: The countdown to the start runs down to the top of the hour, at 3 p.m. for the European races, and 2 p.m. today in Sochi.
The skepticism was great before the first of three sprint races this season, in which the winner will receive three World Championship points on Saturday and start from pole position on Sunday. For the fans, Saturday will be upgraded, the reactions from the teams are mixed.
Toto Wolff says, for example: “Now we are going to do it again in Interlagos (November 14th, note), then we can say we have tried it and we can let it go again.” Formula 1 sports director Ross Brawn would like to stick to the new format. “This is pure racing,” enthused the Briton. “No strategy, no pit stops, hardly any tire protection.” However, Brawn is open to criticism from Formula 1 purists. Therefore, from 2022 onwards, the pole position could be awarded again on Friday, in the sprint race it would then “only” be about the three extra points.