From Niche Sport to Global Phenomenon-Thanks to "Drive to Survive"?

'Drive to Survive' on Netflix has introduced a new legion of F1 fans to this thrilling sport. But how much of an impact has this ongoing series had for a powerhouse sports industry like F1 racing?

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2024-03-05

Umaima Saeed

In the high-speed world of Formula 1, where every second counts, there's one game-changer that's been driving the sport's meteoric rise: "Drive to Survive." Since its inception, this Netflix docu-series has not only revolutionised how fans experience F1 but has also reshaped the entire landscape of motorsport. But how much has this smash hit program done for the juggernaut F1 anyway? 

From Niche to Mainstream

Before the adrenaline fuelled drama of "Drive to Survive" hit screens in 2019, Formula 1 was largely seen as a niche sport, with only 14% of its viewership under the age of 25. However, with the series capturing the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide, F1's fanbase has undergone a remarkable transformation. Now, with 77% of new viewers falling into the coveted 16 to 35 demographic, Formula 1's total fan group is on track to exceed a billion, marking a seismic shift in the sport's appeal.
f1 Drive to Survive 3.jpg

A Stateside Sensation

One of the most significant success stories of "Drive to Survive" has been its impact on Formula 1's popularity in the United States. Prior to 2018, US viewership hovered around a modest 550,000. Fast forward to today, and F1's American audience has exploded, with races now averaging approximately 70 million viewers. The US Grand Prix, in particular, has seen a staggering increase in attendance, soaring from 264,000 in 2018 to a whopping 400,000 in 2021.
With the 2023 Las Vegas race, US fans are sure to have exploded, as the race was a marquee event in an iconic town that felt as much video game as it did spectacle.

Driving Revenue and Stock Prices

The ripple effects of "Drive to Survive" extend far beyond the track, with Formula 1's revenue and stock prices experiencing unprecedented growth. Revenue has surged from US$1.15 billion in 2020 to US$2.14 billion in 2021, representing an impressive 86% increase. Similarly, Formula 1's Liberty Media-owned stock (NASDAQ: FWONA) has seen a significant uptick, returning +62% since the premiere of "Drive to Survive" season 1 in March 2021. If the F1 wasn’t big enough business before, the rich got even richer thanks to a ‘Drive to Survive’.
F1 Drive to Survive Netflix.jpg

Social Media Surge

In today's digital age, social media presence is key, and Formula 1 is leading the pack. With 49 million followers and a staggering 40% annual growth rate, F1's social media footprint continues to expand exponentially. Boasting 1.5 billion aggregate social media engagements, F1's content has become synonymous with viral success, cementing its status as a global powerhouse in the digital sphere. Let's just keep some of the lame celebrities off the track, especially those who have no interest in the sport. 

Looking Ahead to Season 6

As "Drive to Survive" returns for its highly anticipated sixth season in February 2024, the excitement surrounding Formula 1 has never been higher. With some notorious headlines dominating Red Bull amidst the start of this season, it does feel that it's lacking that Spice Girl drama. With a new wave of fans joining the ranks and existing enthusiasts more engaged than ever, the stage is set for another adrenaline-pumping journey into the heart of motorsport. As the world tunes in to witness the drama, passion, and spectacle of Formula 1, one thing is certain: "Drive to Survive" continues to accelerate F1's ascent to unprecedented heights of popularity and success. And who knows what drama viewers might be able to read between the lines on? 
F1 Drive to Survive Cast.jpg


When does season 6 of ‘Drive to Survive’ start?

Season 6 started in February 2024

Where can you watch ‘Drive to Survive?
The series airs on Netflix

How many seasons of ‘Drive to Survive’ have there been?
As of 2024, there have been 6 series

What F1 team is Guenther Steiner on?

Guenther is team principal on Haas

Is there a Formula One ‘Drive to Survive’ review?
We don’t do reviews, watch it, and see for yourself

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.