Record UK viewers for Abu Dhabi GP as 7.4m watch final lap live


Viewing figures for the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix surged as the race came to a final-lap showdown for the Formula 1 championship

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 race poster

Top billing for the race helped bring record viewers in the UK

Grand Prix Photo

Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi championship decider was watched live by almost 7.4m people in the UK, as Channel 4 and Sky broadcast full coverage of the final grand prix of the season.

Viewers flocked to their TVs for the final lap of the race, with the audience peaking just as the safety car returned to the pits with one lap remaining.

Both Channel 4 and Sky Sports attracted record numbers of viewers for the much-anticipated showdown, which ended with Max Verstappen taking victory and the title, amid familiar drama and controversy.

Following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that left Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton level on points, Channel 4 agreed a deal to carry Sky’s live broadcast. This morning, it reported a peak audience of 4.375m at 2.32pm — moments before racing resumed, during the controversial safety car restart procedure.

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That figure broke the record for a Channel 4 broadcast, which was set in 2018 when a peak of 4.356m tuned in to watch Kimi Räikkönen win the United States Grand Prix.

The data, supplied by Channel 4, reports a combined peak of 7.391m viewers across Sky and Channel 4 at the same time; the 3.016m Sky viewers making it the most-watched grand prix ever shown live by the broadcaster — a week after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix broke the same record with a peak of 2.66m viewers.

Throughout the race, Channel 4’s live coverage attracted an average of 3.4m viewers, considerably higher than the average of 1.2m who watched highlights of last week’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Though many British F1 fans will be disappointed by the result, it’s fantastic that Channel 4 was able to bring this nail-biting finale to the 2021 F1 Season to 4.4 million viewers free to air and, in partnership with Sky, to an incredible peak audience of 7.4m,” said Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz. “It was a fittingly dramatic end to an extraordinary year of sport.”