F1 is currently enjoying a boom in the United States which has seen the series expand to a second US race this year, starting with the Miami Grand Prix. A third American event is planned for 2023 in Las Vegas.
The growth of F1 in the United States comes after decades of struggling to break into the market, but is not only reflected in the number of American races. In recent years, a number of major US tech companies have started working with F1 teams and the series itself through partnerships, including Amazon, Google and Oracle.
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Speaking at the Business of F1 Forum hosted by the Financial Times and Motorsport Network in Monaco late last month, Williams commercial director James Bower said the team’s analysis showed a huge increase in number of American brands involved in F1.
“In 2015 the tally was that there were 45 US-based companies in the sport – the current tally this year so far is 108, so that’s a double increase,” Bower said.
“In mentioning technology partners, I think Formula 1 is undeniably the most data-driven sport on the planet, so we’re seeing this huge influx of technology companies, especially from North America.
“Interestingly for us at Williams, we have a new owner with Dorilton, and not many people understand what Dorilton does, but it’s basically a New York-based private equity firm that has a portfolio of businesses.
“One of the things they really have is a venture capital arm, Dorilton Ventures, which you’ll see on the car and the drivers. They leverage Formula 1 with the founders of these tech start-ups because you kind of find that these founders all love F1, even though they’re in the United States.
“They’re taking the opportunity to invest in these companies with Williams against the big, established investment firms in Silicon Valley, basically saying we’re going to get you on the team, and that has a huge appeal for people. .”
Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Bower said that while the growth in the United States seemed “a bit like an overnight success” from the outside, the roots go back to the return of the United States Grand Prix to Austin, Texas in 2012.
“We’ve really started to see growth by having a poignant home, and also with ESPN showing F1 in the US [since 2018] we’re really seeing the demographics and the change getting a bit younger, the gradual growth in viewership that’s really helping to grow the sport,” Bower said.
“And then of course the last five years with Liberty buying the sport, putting in top-notch marketing and management processes, and then just growing the sport.
“It was phenomenal and then it ended with Drive to Survive and of course the new race the other week in Miami was amazing. So yeah, that’s huge growth.
Chloe Targett-Adams, global director of Formula 1 racing promotion, has been instrumental in securing Miami and Las Vegas races on the calendar for the future.
She felt that F1 had “finally managed to crack this beautiful combination of great racing products, this incredible generation of young hero drivers and the Netflix effect, all coming together at that time”.
“Miami as a venue was something we started working on in 2017 with the Dolphins, and to see that finally come into play, and an American audience of over 400,000 in COTA, having developed that after 10 years, it’s just like that good time where that commitment is there through that generation,” Targett-Adams said.
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“It’s just the combination of all of that and seeing that growth going forward.”