Drivers hope new F1 owners will attract younger fans

F1 drivers have welcomed the purchase of F1 by Liberty Media, with most indicating they are optimistic about what the company can do for the sport in years to come.Intriguingly, two unprompted and recurring themes were the prospect of American marketing know-how providing a boost to the sport, and the need to appeal to a younger demographic.


Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg acknowledged the achievements of Bernie Ecclestone, but said that change could be good.

“Bernie and his partners who have run the business all these years have done a great job, as we can see in the price tag of $8.5bn,” said the German.

“Someone must have done an amazing job to get that price tag on our sport, and just on the commercial rights. It’s pretty impressive.

“But I think the world is changing a lot, and it’s cool sometimes to get a breath of fresh air in it, a new competent group of people who may bring some new ideas.

“Especially coming from America, because the Americans are often a step ahead, especially in technology and things like that. In TV they’re really doing a good job.

“So I think it could be promising, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with, and hopefully maybe it can make us stronger in America, that could be awesome.

“Also even in Europe and around the world there are so many young people who love our sport but who don’t actually watch because they won’t to tune in at a specific hour or they won’t make the effort and find out when is the start now, because we race round the world, so the start time always changes.

“I think that’s just a new era now where a load of young people live like that, and so that’s an area which can be further improved for out sport, to reach out to more people who would love our sport, but don’t necessarily tune in when the race is on.”

McLaren Fernando Alonso was another to focus on the American angle.

“I think it’s good,” he said. “They have good experience, they are American, I think the sport there is quite popular.
“They seem to give to the spectators on television and also the fans close to the sport quite a good coverage, and everything that comes from America in terms of sport is quite attractive.

“So I think their point of view and ideas will be very welcome in our sport. I see a good future, a good thing for F1.”

Like Rosberg, Jenson Button also stressed that the sport needs to appeal to younger fans.

“I think them being American is probably a positive, bringing the sport more to the States, and getting people there more interested in the sport,” said the Briton.

“I think from what I’ve seen they are interested in getting a much younger audience interested in the sport.

“The average age is much too high for where it should be, considering we have an 18-year-old on the grid. I think the average age is high-30s, maybe early 40s.”
“It can only get better”

Button’s views were also echoed by Carlos Sainz, himself one of the younger drivers on the grid, who emphasised the role of social media.

“I think I am going to sound a bit negative, I think it can only get better for where we are now,” said the Toro Rosso man.

“I think towards the fans, towards the media, towards the world, I think a new company, motivation to make things better, it can only be good from where are now. I am positive about it and we can only head in the right direction.

“Hopefully it will help, and it will attract the young fans who are difficult to attract with the social media and even my friends, when I tell them to watch F1, and they find it tricky when they don’t see it on social media.

“It is tricky to convince them. I am there and they follow it because of that, but tricky for them to tell me they love F1 and get engaged by it. I think it will only get better and will only help, so I am positive about it.”

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