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Domenicali

Domenicali: there’s more to it than the Drive to Survive effect

F1 CEO and president Domenicali explains the strategy behind F1’s recent growth

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Drive to Survive has undoubtedly contributed to the growing success of Formula 1. But Formula 1 CEO and President Stefano Domenicali explains the other reasons behind the sport’s positive development.

Domenicali and Michel
Stefano Domenicali, CEO of the Formula One Group, and Bruno Michel, F2 & F3 CEO talk on the grid during the Round 2:Jeddah Feature race of the Formula 2 Championship at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Image Credit: Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

 

The development shows that the Formula 1 audience is getting younger and younger. Domenicali explains, according to Speedcafe.com, that three dimensions support Formula 1’s progressive popularity. Focusing on the US market and young fans is not everything, he says:

“It’s more than that,” Domenicali explained.

“For sure, we had to tackle how to connect and stay connected to fans – fans are the centre of our relationship, there’s no discussion.

“Fans are old fans, avid fans, traditional fans. And if you just focus on them, of course, we’re losing a lot of other opportunities.

“So, what we did, in terms of strategy, (was to look at) how we could adapt and also attract new fans that were not really interested in our sport, of course, and with a traditional way of connecting and speaking would have been impossible.

“So, we worked very hard on social media platforms, activation, connectivity with the drivers and the teams.”

The Role of social media

Under Liberty Media’s ownership, teams and drivers can indulge more on social media platforms than before. This is creating larger and larger communities. Many fans first stumble upon a meme or short video and then continue to inform themselves about F1. The teams’ use of behind-the-scenes videos, such as McLaren’s ‘Unboxed’, shows much more than just the cars on track. Teams and fans develop a special bond through social media.

“Netflix for sure, it’s another way of speaking about Formula 1 and trying to focus not only on the sport’s details of what is Formula 1, into the specific racing, but talk about Formula 1 as a bigger event, the spectacular show, and something that can attract attention.”

Domenicali sees the future with the implementation of technical regulations and other changes that keep Formula 1 alive:

“And this has been and will be another important part of the equation,” Domenicali said.

“And third, how we can use our platform to talk about not only sporting events but also about values that are bigger than Formula 1.

“You know, talking about the diversity, about sustainability, our platform with regard to sustainable fuel, so all these kinds of things.

“If you put together and mix up all the things, I believe that’s the reason why, in the last couple of years, we were able to transform the world of Formula 1 into the world we’re living today.”

Domenicali on the Covid-19 pandemic

Surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has given Formula 1 a boost. People isolated themselves and watched much TV – including Netflix’s Drive to Survive. Formula 1 was one of the first sports to resume in the summer of 2020.

But Domenicali admits that the pandemic almost broke the sport’s neck.

“That could be really the game over,” Domenicali admitted.

“We were in a situation where financially, we lost a lot of money because, of course, we couldn’t have people, we couldn’t go racing, we had to move this first season of COVID later on, fewer races and so on.

“But as always, when there is a problem, there is a big opportunity and I have to say thanks to the vision, our shareholders and Chase, I think there was a moment where we invested in Formula 1.

“We were able to create the protocol and the procedure to go around the world.

“We kept the system alive in the worst moment ever.

“That was a moment where we put the foundation for the growth that we had as soon as the COVID was lifted in terms of pressure and but that was really the turning moment of our success.”

We are excited about the further development of Formula 1. The prospect of more teams in Formula 1 and the significant changes from 2026 onwards bode well for a further upturn in the sport.

Image Credit: Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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