109m viewers watched Abu Dhabi GP unfold on TV, says F1


Viewing figures for 2021's F1 finale showed a huge leap in viewing figures compared to the previous season

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda overtakes Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 to claim a dramatic victory on the final lap of the race to win his first Formula 1 World Title during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

This year's F1 title battle brought a huge increase in viewing figures and social media engagement

Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The culmination of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s season-long F1 championship battle attracted 108.7m viewers to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on TV — the highest figure that year, Formula 1 has announced.

Audience figures released for 2021 show a 29% increase in people watching the season finale on TV, compared with 2020. The fallout from the final lap will have played no small part in the 1.5 billion clicks, likes, comments and other engagements on F1’s social media posts, up by 74% on the previous year.

As Max Verstappen took the lead in the championship race, Dutch audiences soared and the total audience for the year was up by 81%. In Britain, cumulative viewers for the whole season were up by 39%.

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F1’s cumulative TV audience for the 2021’s record-breaking 22 race season was 1.55bn, up by 4% on 2020, with an average race audience of 70.3m. In countries where TV deals remained the same, average viewing figures rose by 13%, but new pay TV deals caused a drop in Brazil and Germany.

At the circuits, Silverstone recorded a record attendance of 356,000 spectators, up from 350,000 in 2019. There were also record crowds at the Circuit of the Americas and Mexico City but Covid restrictions — particularly in the first part of the year meant attendances were down to 2.69million, down on the 4.16m who attended a race before Covid.

“The 2021 season was something very special,” said Stefano Domenicali, F1’s president and CEO. “We had a championship battle that went to the last race with huge excitement throughout the whole championship. We began to welcome back our fans who are the heart and soul of our sport and although we were limited in our capacities due to COVID, it was fantastic to see 2.6 million fans in the grandstands around the world.

“We have also seen some very strong figures across broadcast and our digital platforms, showing once again the momentum, excitement and interest that is all around Formula 1. We are looking forward to our record breaking 23 race season this year, with new cars, new regulations, and a new challenge for all the teams and drivers.”