Fastest growing fandom

Formula 1

If you wake up one Sunday morning and suddenly find yourself a race fan, join the crowd. Formula 1 has exploded in popularity over the past few years, especially among American viewers, largely due to the Netflix series F1: Drive to Survive, which fueled a surge of interest in the legendary motorsport. ESPN’s broadcasts of F1 races averaged more than 900,000 viewers through the first 15 races of 2021, an increase of 51 percent over the 2020 season. With only 20 drivers, Formula 1 offers fans the opportunity to really get to know the drivers and teams, making the action on the track much more personal. Will the king relinquish his crown? Will Ferrari regain their past glory after recent ignominy? Can young challengers including Lando Norris, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, and Pierre Gasly join Max Verstappen in his attempt to overthrow the “old guard” of Hamilton and Bottas? It’s Shakespearean drama at 200 mph.
- Ed Tankersley
Head of Contributor Success

Best fan moment of the year

The year’s highlight may have been the Monza race, where Verstappen took out Hamilton (or vice versa, depending on whether you have a Red Bull or a Mercedes logo on your cap). Not for the crash — though that was a clench-your-teeth, hold-your-breath moment while we waited for Hamilton to emerge safely from his cockpit after literally being driven over — but because it put three drivers — Ricciardo, Norris, Bottas — not named Hamilton or Verstappen on the winner’s podium, a rare occurrence in recent years.

What we’ll remember about this fandom a decade from now

Would this be the year that we witnessed the overthrow of the throne, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton defeated by the upstart Max Verstappen? Or would Hamilton, the wily veteran and the sport’s winningest driver, win his eighth championship, more than any other F1 driver in history? Either way, 2021 was an epic season that will be talked about for years to come.