The results of the FOTA fan survey, which was started back in February, have been fully released today. The survey was the largest of its kind, with over 85,000 fans taking part. The most interesting results were concerning watching F1 online, HD broadcasting, and coverage of the sport.
Instead of releasing these results in paragraphs, I’ve written them in bullet points within sections, to make it easier to read:
Fans’ interest in F1
- 61% of F1 fans are located in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), 27% in Asia Pacific and 12% in the Americas.
- 38% of fans surveyed have been watching F1 for over 10 years. 16.4% have been following it for less than a year.
- 27.2% watch between 1-3 races per year, 17.4% watch 4-9 races, 9.3% watch 10-12, 33.5% watch more than 12, and 12.6% do not watch F1 races on television.
- 43% of fans who watch a race watch it from start to finish. 25% see most of the race, while 18.1% watch some of it. 5.9% watch a little bit, 1.5% for only the start, and 6.5% only watch the highlights.
- Amazingly, 77.5% of fans have not attended a race in the last year. 13.3% have gone to 1, 5% have gone to 2, and 4.2% have attended 3 or more.
Analysis: Most of these results are good news. The fact that 68% of all fans will watch most or all of the race is great, as it proves that F1 is interesting to watch – to most viewers anyways. Also, the fact that 16.4% of fans have joined this sport in the last year shows that 2009’s rule changes have helped to improve the sport’s image to a new audience.
However, I’m annoyed that 77.5% of people don’t (can’t?) go to a single race in a year. This is undoubtedly because it is too expensive, when you consider travel, accomodation, food, and the actual tickets. Many venues have empty grandstands because the tickets are far too expensive, so this needs to be sorted out.
Media and Formula 1
Unfortunately, I can’t write about the section that reads “How frequently do you access Newspapers/TV (races and qualifying are split into 2)/Radio/Magazines/Streaming on websites/F1 blogs or forums/Email and Mobile updates for Formula 1?” Each one of those media outlets has its own chart, and I’d be here all week if I were to analyse it all. However, you can have a look yourself, at the link at the bottom.
- 24.8% of fans would be very interested in watching races online, and 27.6% would be quite interested. 24.4% would not be very interested, and 20.2% would be not at all interested. 3.1% didn’t know.
- Use of Formula 1 apps on the phone appears to have been shunned, as 46.3% would be “not at all interested” in using F1 mobile apps.
- Also, the majority of fans do not want to be part of an F1 online community. 36.4% are not at all interested, 28.3% not very interested, 20.7 are quite interested, and 11.4% would be very interested. 3.2% don’t know.
- HD broadcasting is very important, as 39.4% are very interested in watching F1 in HD, while 26.3% would be quite interested. 16.2% and 15.1% would be not at all interested and not very interested respectively.
- There is a bit of division as to would fans be interested in downloading races to watch. While 30.4% would be not at all interested, 21.4% and 21.1% would be quite and very interested respectively.
Analysis: I’m not surprised that HD broadcasting and online access are the two main topics here, as this is where Formula 1 is sorely lacking in comparison to other sports, like NASCAR (in HD) and IndyCar (IndyCarNation race control). Although I’m surprised to see that many fans wouldn’t download races online, I don’t think Bernie and FOM would allow it anyway.
The image of Formula 1
Which three of the following words/phrases do you think best describes Formula 1?
- 42.3% of fans strongly believe that F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. 39.4% say that the sport showcases the best drivers.
- Oddly enough, only 23.8% would strongly agree that F1 coverage on TV is informative and engaging. 30.5% mildly agree, and 24.9% neither agree nor disagree. 6.3% would strongly disagree.
- While 14% strongly disagree that F1 has an important role in promoting environmentally friendly initiatives, only 16.4% would strongly agree. Most fans do not agree or disagree with this question.
- The same goes for F1 having an important role in improving road safety. 13.6% strongly disagree, but 16.5% strongly agree.
- Here’s a good one – the majority of fans strongly agree (29.8%) with the fact that there is too much focus on politics in Formula 1.
- 51.9% strongly agree that F1 showcases the most advanced technology in motorsport.
- The overwhelming majority believe that F1 has the right balance between technology and safety.
Analysis: I’m very happy with the first result here, as the true characteristics of F1 are the highest rated, like technology, competition and excitement. Having said that, the 11.2% who said that F1 was best described as predictable need to wake up and actually watch some races this year, just not Bahrain.
- 32.4% strongly look forward to technological innovations each season.
- 25.8% strongly agree that F1 technology has helped to improve safety in road cars.
- 26.9% would only mildly agree that F1 has the right balance between technology and driver skill.
- “Technological innovations have led to more competitive racing”. 24.6% strongly agree, while 22.3% mildly agree. 22.5% neither agree nor disagree, and 12.6% mildly disagree. 12.7% strongly disagree, and 5.3% have no opinion.
- 20.7% strongly believe that technology is the most exciting aspect of F1, while 11.1% strongly disagree.
Analysis: There would be little doubt that there is a lot of disagreement when it comes to F1 technology. Innovations in this sport are great, in my opinion, but casual fans can often get confused by them, such as KERS and the F-duct systems.
The Grands Prix
As with the section earlier on F1 media, I can’t do the next section. This is about the current amount of broadcast features shown during a race, and whether they should be shown more or less. These results are accessible from the link at the bottom of this post.
- If a race is on too early or too late in the day, then 15.3% would frequently record the race and watch it later. 26.4% would do it occasionally, and 58.3% would never do this.
- 31.7% would like to see a lot of analysis on steward decisions, and 28.6% would like to see some.
- 36.9% would like to see a lot of split-screen coverage, and 30.1% would like to see some.
- 33.4% would like to be able to follow a specific car, although 39.1% had no opinion on this one.
- 34.8% would like to follow a car of their choice for the entire race, although 33.9% had no opinion.
- 43.3% feel that it is driver safety is extremely important to them.
- 37.3% feel that diversity of circuit venues is extemely important to them.
- 53.8% would say that overtaking is extremely important in a race.
Analysis: The fact that very few would record an F1 race is another incentive to have more night races. This way, people can watch more races live, instead of failing to watch them because it was on at the right time. Also, the implementation of broadcasting features (split-screen coverage, follow a specific car, etc) would require a digital service from all broadcasters involved, and I think that would be difficult to bring in. Having said that, it would be great if it could happen.
The future of F1
- 57.3% strongly agree that F1 needs to continue to deliver exciting racing and overtaking.
- 37.9% strongly agree that Formula 1 must continue to return to classic venues like Silverstone and Monza.
- 44.2% would strongly agree that more emphasis must be placed on driver skill.
- 53% strongly agree that F1 must be more affordable for fans attending the race.
- 39.3% strongly agree that F1 must be the pinnacle of technology.
- 37.9% strongly agreed that the sport should always have technological innovations to look forward to.
- 41.2% strongly agreed that the sport should connect more with fans
- 40.8% strongly agreed that races that test driver skill should be introduced more.
- 31.7% would neither agree nor disagree that more races should be included on the calendar.
- 15.7% strongly disagreed that F1 should go to new markets at the expense of European races.
- 50.5% strongly agreed that F1 must continue to go to classic venues.
- There was much diversity when it came to the night races. Although 19.1% strongly agreed that it would make them watch more, 19.9% mildly agreed, 27.9% didn’t agree nor disagree, 10.45 mildly disagree, and 14.4% strongly disagree, while 8.3% have no opnion.
- 19.7% would strongly disagree with ditching classic venues in favour of new countries.
- 27.4% would neither agree nor disagree that their interest in the race is affected by the circuit.
- While 15.8% strongly want more street races, 15.4% strongly disagree with this.
Analysis: There isn’t much surprise here, apart from the night and street races part. Personally, I think there should be less street races, and only 1 or 2 more night races, as otherwise they lose their exclusivity after a while.
- 52% felt that Monaco was the most important race on the calendar, followed by Italy (50.6%), Britain (42.9%), Germany (38.8%) and Belgium (29.4%).
- Amazingly, 25.7% of fans had no idea of what KERS was. 21.8% said that not every team used it, so it was hard to measure its success.
- 18% strongly agreed that KERS had a positive impact on the 2009 season, though 16.9% strongly disagreed.
- 23.2% strongly agreed that KERS should returm to F1, but 17.6% strongly disagreed.
- 24.8% would have high interest in attending the annual car launches and presentations.
- 44.9% think that the 2010 points system was a good idea, with only 14.2% thinking it was a bad idea. However, a massive 40.9% had no opinion. Oddly enough, avid F1 fans were more likely to dislike the new points system. Infrequent fans were much more likely to have no opinion.
- 61.9% think that there should be a greater points difference between 1st and 2nd place, so there is more competition for the win.
- 44.4% have definitely heard of FOTA, though 34.8% definitely haven’t. 20.8% think so.
Analysis: The fact that more than a quarter of fans don’t know what KERS is is a shock to me. Obviously, they weren’t paying much attention last year, or it wasn’t explained well enough. I’m not surprised that many fans haven’t heard of FOTA, as they are never mentioned on live broadcasts. They only really appear in F1 blogs online, and this needs to improve so as to improve FOTA’s image with supporters.
Favourite moments of 2009:
|Force India in Spa
|Jenson Button in Brazil
|Brawn 1-2 in Melbourne
|Monsoon in Malaysia
|Webber’s 1st win in Germany
|Vettel’s win in Silverstone
|Opening lap of Brazilian GP
|Hamilton’s drive in Singapore
|Vettel’s pole and win in China
|Button’s run to the Monaco podium
|The twilight Abu Dhabi race
|Japanese GP qualifying
Analysis: This is one of my favourite results, as the best moments of 2009 are at the top. It would have been very easy to vote for accidents such as the Japanese GP qualifying, but they didn’t, and preferred moments such as Force India’s pole position and P2 in Belgium, which is personally my best moment of the year.
Overall, I would have thought that these results were to be expected, such as fans wanting more exciting races, HD broadcasting, better coverage, etc. However, I’m surprised at the lack of respect given to safety in Formula 1, as it should be the most important factor in the sport. Still, hopefully some of these results can be used to change F1 for the better, but it’s up to FOTA to do so.
I wasn’t able to include all of the results, such as the brand factor in F1, but you can view the entire FOTA report here.