Buzz Radar, a firm specializing in social intelligence, has analysed social media conversations over the last decade and found that interest in Formula 1 (F1) motor sport has seen a significant drop in 2023. The 2023 campaign seems to have catalyzed a reversal in F1‘s impressive growth trajectory manifested over the recent years.
This insight emerged from a study published on Thursday called “Have we reached Peak F1?”. Buzz Radar’s study elucidates that the burgeoning interest in F1 in 2022, fuelled by an exciting 2021 title race and new car rules, could possibly be the zenith of fan interest for some time.
Harnessing a mix of human and artificial intelligence analysis of over 70 million fan posts on social media from the past decade, Buzz Radar identified a slide in championship interest for the first time. The research indicates that F1 mentions on social media plummeted 70.2% in the first five months of 2023 compared to the same window in 2022. There was also a 46.29% drop in new followers and a 64.10% decrease in social reach for F1.
According to the firm, figures for January to May for the past three years reveal that while mentions were 3.19 million and 6.14 million in 2021 and 2022, respectively, they tumbled to 1.83 million in 2023. New followers also dropped from 624.27k in 2021 and 911.15k in 2022, to 489.37k in 2023, while social reach declined from 35.63 billion and 61.73 billion in 2021 and 2022 to just 22.16 billion in 2023.
“The data comparison between 2022 and 2023 revealed significant drops in the overall mentions of F1, along with dismal numbers in the growth of new followers of high-profile accounts,” Buzz Radar concluded. It also pointed out that the reach of F1-related content on various social platforms has recoiled dramatically.
Buzz Radar’s report also sheds light on a crucial transition in the type of conversation about F1. It noticed an increase in the use of negative adjectives in conversations associated with the sport. Phrases like ‘boring’ and ‘annoying’ are replacing previously dominant positive adjectives like ‘interesting’ and ‘exciting’.
Buzz Radar identifies single-team domination, particularly by Red Bull who won all but two races over the past year, as the catalyst for these dwindling numbers. The study argues that there is a direct relationship between a closely contested F1 title and fan engagement.
This flash analysis refers back to 2018 when Lewis Hamilton won the title with relative ease, resulting in a sharp decline in conversation levels. “2016 was the most talked about season, until 2021, despite all the contributory factors of the Liberty takeover, Drive to Survive, and lockdown, because [Nico] Rosberg and Hamilton were battling closely,” Buzz Radar stated. “The season was decided by only five points. Conversation stagnated between 2018-2020 while Hamilton dominated, and grew significantly again during the 2021 season; the closest championship since 2016.”
The report predicts that 2023 is likely to continue to lose conversation. “Both 2016 and 2021 seasons were decided at the last race. 2022 continued to ride the wave of the close competition at the end of 2021, but now we are seeing the result of one driver dominance once again. This pattern will continue until the racing becomes closer again.”
Yet, despite a less than encouraging 2023, Buzz Radar acknowledges F1‘s considerable success in enlarging its audience over the last decade. Compared to other leading sports, F1 stands out and this feat is even more impressive considering it only hosts 23 events per year.
The accompanying whitepaper provided more context: “Between 2016 and 2022, F1 grew its conversation levels by 80%, which was only bettered by the Indian Premier League (208% increase) and the UEFA Champions League (up 112%). Remarkably, F1 managed this despite hosting the fewest events of the top five, with 2022 conversation coming from just 22 race weekends compared to 285 NFL matches, including the Super Bowl which, year on year, is one of the most talked about sporting events in the world.”