F1 heartland quickly losing interest in the sport


When Lewis Hamilton won his third F1 WDC in Austin last year, Brazilian fans of the sport would have been hard pressed to know it. There was a 15 second announcement during a soccer match and later news bulletins long after the race.

The fact is, Brazil’s TV channel Globo will not pay Ecclestone huge broadcasting rights fees, due to declining interest in F1. Globo’s annual coverage of the sport has been slashed and at present no other channel is offering to pay for a full season’s uninterrupted live TV rights.

For fans who have followed F1 since the 1980’s, this is a stunning turn of events. Brazil was once the hotbed for fanatical F1 fans particularly in the era of the great Ayrton Senna. Their current F1 driver, Felipe Massa, hasn’t won a GP for over 7 years and there is little on the horizon in terms of the next F1 Brazilian great.

The attendance for the 2015 Brazilian GP was poor too as Erich Beting, owner of sports marketing firm Maquina do Esporte, explained: “The title race is decided, Brazil’s economy is in crisis, Brazilian drivers don’t stand a chance of winning — and Formula One is less and less on TV.”

Sponsors in Brazil are also on the wane. Ibope, a marketing company that rates the value of TV promotion claims F1 in Brazil is worth around one third its value of 10 years ago. Even local soccer matches such as the Flamengo’s vs the Corinthians score consistently higher than F1.

Brazil’s economy is in recession and Williams F1 sponsor Petrobras is currently mired in a multi-billion-dollar bribery scandal that in part saw the parliament vote for Brazil’s president to be impeached. Beting claims that ordinary Brazilians are questioning, “why they are spending with a racing team.”

Bernie Ecclestone has been ramping up the pressure on the Brazilian race promoters to improve the ageing and faded Interlagos circuit. A new deal was agreed to host the Brazilian GP until 2020, on the conditions the agreed venue upgrades were delivered. These began in 2014, but by last year’s race progress had all but stopped.

It appears that the agreed Interlagos works will be no further on this year and Bernie Ecclestone began sabre rattling at the Canadian GP. “This year could be the last race there,” he said in Montreal. Brazilian promoters are believed to be trying to restructure the deal. Yet with the ever abundant supply line of undemocratic governments – the latest being Azerbaijan – prepared to fill up a convoy of trucks with dollars for the Ecclestone Empire, means the nation that brought us Senna, like the one that gave us Fangio, may be beginning to fade into the annals of F1 history.

32 responses to “F1 heartland quickly losing interest in the sport

  1. For some mad reason there are countries that have minimal motorsport seem desperate to give Bernie lots of money and it would appear that is all he is interested in. In the short term (Bernie is getting on and CVC want to sell) the accounts look goodish but anyone with an ounce of sense will know the cash cow that is F1 can’t continue for very long. So Bernie staging races in obscure countries doesn’t make much sense. He has historically used the technique of ‘lots of other places want a race so you have to improve and pay more’ very effectively in the past but I fear that method will no longer work.
    F1 needs new strategy to grow the viewers not just short term revenue growth.

  2. 1. Absolutely heart breaking!
    2. Globo usually does not broadcast the afternoon races (in Brasilia time zone) (US, Canadá), only Interlagos. They no longer show Q1 and Q2, only Q3.
    3. It is very, very hard to find another F1 fan to talk about racing… They usually are “uh, I lost interested after Senna death”.
    4. I would not say people oppose Petrobras sponsoring Williams, for the simple fact that many people just do not know. The few that I have seen actually questioning brazilian government sponsorship have pointed that Banco do Brazil (Sauber, Nasr) has few international branches and so it would not make sense to advertise in an international sport like F1.
    5. Flamengo and Corinthians actually have the largest number of supporters. It is no common match.
    6. Interlagos is my favorite track. Being brazilian, I might be biased, but I truly think it deserves to be among Spa, Montréal, etc, as one of the best. The usual november rain (is Axl an F1 fan?) only adds to the show. Brazil 2012 anyone?

    • Also, people remember bitterly the 2002 Austria GP (MANY lost interest that day) and “Alonso is faster than you…”. Maybe Ferrari killed Brazil interest in F1?

      (Please delete the other comment with the same content)

      • Interesting point. Ferrari blatantly showing two ordinary Brazilian drivers their place against their respective team mates killed F1 in Brazil.

        I’m sorry p, my nick used to be herowassenna and if you do a search through my articles here you’ll see many written about Senna.

        My problem with both Ruben and Massa were neither was a great driver. In a similar manner there hasn’t been a great Italian Driver since the 50’s.

        Massa being told to support Alonso in 2010 was completely correct as Alonso was still fighting for the title. Barrichello being told to give way to Schumi was disgraceful. A handful of races in with a dominant car… thank you Todt.

        • I agree, 2010 was teamwork, but Austria 2002 was terrible, there was no need to, as Michael’s lead was comfortable. That was the day F1 died in Brazil, even more than May 1st, 1994. Even in 2008 not many people were following Massa’s exploits.

          In fact, I should have pointed only to Austria 2002, as in 2010 few people were watching or actually cared, anyway.

    • F1 is out pricing its core values, fans can’t afford the pay wall costs and if you don’t follow the full year then why attend a live race? You are spot on as the track is a legend,Senna unable to climb out of the car… Schumacher into the barrier in the wet after hitting the newly formed Amazon springing from the stands and Lewis being helped to a title after Glock forgot how to drive even after Massa did all he could and landed first place.oh those were the days.

      • Lewis being helped to a title after Glock forgot how to drive

        That day Glock was the only one to gamble on an alternative tire choice compared to the rest. From memory he stayed on the dry tire, and while it wasn’t raining hard he had pace. But once it started raining more heavily, he simply had no tires to keep it on track. Had Glock stopped for wet tires as others did then Hamilton wouldn’t have lost that position in the first place. So it’s a story of just how it happened, with the vagaries of changing conditions…

        • Brazil 2008, another classic race: the drama, heartbreak, agony and glory. One more reason to keep the track.

          Oh, Bernie!…

        • Yep,thats how nearly everyone witnessed but as a Ferrari fan I see it slightly different, Glock was watching the timing screens and witnessed Massa flash brilliantly into a world champion,the unfortunately named Irish driver Tim o’glock then slowed to allow his then drinking partner to slip past and take a lucky world championship (why let facts spoil a good grudge)
          Thanks landroni for fueling my rage again 😉

      • General admission ticket for Silverstone this year is nearly £200 just for race-day!!!

        I could go to all 3 days of the MotoGP race for that amount

        • This is the second year I won’t be attending my home race,i have always managed to fit in 2 maybe 3 weekends but i am down to one..I have cunningly planned this in with a visit to the young one in Bruges and Mrs oddball won’t know until it’s to late, so it’s off to Spa but it’s still a stupid amount, WEC for the weekend,pitwalk and three days in the track…£60..now MrE tell me you don’t have a problem

          • I paid 45€ for wec at spa. With the pit walk pass… Britain is probably the most expensive out there. For f1 and all the rest. General admission in spa is, out of the top of my head, 160€ for a weekend. Mind you I haven’t been last two years.

  3. extremely well written piece..I fear F1 and all racing in general is a lost cause. my first of many F1 races was the ’67 Canadian GP at Mosport. $5.00 admission AND 4 days camping AND a program AND full paddock access where one could shake hands and talk to the drivers and mechanics, touch the car and kick the tires.
    not a direct comparison, but I just checked out the pricing for the IndyCar race at the Glen (another of my old hangouts). $90 for 3 day general admission. not bad! then there is the $50 a day parking – or one can pitch a small tent near pit road for $600 !!!!! then there is always the Hospitality Package for another $750! and none of this gives a reserved seat for those interested in that. and never is “paddock pass” ever mentioned. are they out of their mind???
    if I did not get free SKY streaming, I would not even know nor care who the hell the drivers are.

  4. 2020 F1 calendar…
    1. Russia
    2. Bahrain
    3. Abu Dhabi
    4. Azerbaijan
    5. China
    6. North Korea
    7. Syria
    8. Libya
    9. Iran
    10. Iraq
    11. Kazakhstan
    12. Qatar
    13. Saudi Arabia
    14. Chad
    15. Burundi
    16. Tajikistan
    17. Zimbabwe
    18. Belarus
    19. Antarctica
    20. Coruscant

    • Please beware that in NKorea they use the Juche calender. So it would be 2020 Season (Juche Year 109).

    • No IS?

      BTW, this isn’t as far off as that. Here’s one of CVC’s support crew:


      F1’s ageing European heartland is dwindling, but if the championship is to flourish it has to mine the likes of “Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East”, according to Sorrell.

      Press him on where and he highlights some interesting countries, adding: “Why not look at Indonesia? It will be the third biggest country in the world in population in 25 years’ time – after India and China.

      “Then you could think about Vietnam and at some point in time about Nigeria.

      “And then you head to South America: Argentina, Columbia, Peru. Probably not all of them will have an F1 race, but they are definitely considering events.””

      I for one am looking forward to the GP of Nigeria — security should be a treat.

    • Seeing as we’re having some fun, this is what the F1 calendar should look like, Dobzizzle. keep in mind that these are track-specific choices.

      1: Bathurst, Australia
      2: Phillip Island, Australia
      3: Mugello, Italy
      4: Misano, San Marino
      5: Imola, San Marino
      6: Monte Carlo, Monaco
      7: Aragón, Spain
      8: Le Mans (de la Sarthe), France
      9: Brno, Czech Republic
      10: Hockenheim (one of the older layouts), Germany
      11: Silverstone (one of the older layouts), UK
      12: Assen, Netherlands
      13: Spa, Belgium
      14: Interlagos, Brazil
      15: Indy (Oval), USA
      16: Road America, USA
      17: Montreal, Canada
      18: Sepang, Malaysia (Yes, I like that tilke-drome)
      19: Suzuka, Japan
      20: Guia, Macau
      21: Monza, Italy (Final round)

      I’d be excited for every event. Yes, there’s a lot that would render this list impossible.



  5. OK. Now the comments are posting.
    After following F1 with variable degrees of interest since the early 60s (I used to live near Goodwood) I have now almost completely lost any enthusiasm for the “show” (the expression says a bundle…) For Montreal, which was shown at about 10.30 on C4, I watched the first dozen or so laps, dozing off periodically, checked Crash.net for the result and switched off. I subsequently deleted the recording. There were once periods of decades where I watched every race and every qualifying session with scarcely a single meeting missed.
    Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.
    MotoGP, BSB, WSBK and the TT offer incalculably better entertainment. F1 should be euthanised.

    • I don’t think it’s F1 that is the main problem,the exposure of the sport has become very limited to the fans that for what ever reason can’t afford the price. The top brass seem to want a very different audience,the ones where cost isn’t a factor but it’s risking becoming a fringe sport. Like never before,f1 is facing a new way of viewing any program,one where the audience can select what they want to watch but they want value, as an example sky want £30 per month on top of the basic TV package,thats £360 for 20+ races before the other costs are added so ,thats £18 per race weekend,even the day pass works out at £200+ just for the Sundays and frankly it’s a stupid amount when you can get Netflx for around a £5. I am a die hard fan but even I am looking hard at the cost this year and it’s all down to MrE’s quest for a bigger bank balance. The BBC couldn’t justify the cost and sold the rights to ch4 who are also working out that it’s really not worth hosting Half a years live races,soon we will be back into the 1960’s looking at the broadsheets to see the results. MotoGP,WEC,,WEC,TT and damn tractor pulling are all fine sports and not far off the level of F1 and I can see these sports only growing stronger,and why?..free access to audience and a sensible cost to the live events when they come calling, when was the last time anyone watched the high priced high octane formula power boat championship? MrE needs to take note

      • I like the idea of televised tractor pulling. Instead of ‘The Chain’ by fleetwood mac they could use ‘Oi am a cider driker’ by the Wurzels – non UK readers can find this song on YouTube. I can see Lewis in a fetching straw hat and smock chewing on a straw – down with the kids in Shepton Mallett! Jenson of course hails from crop circle country and would be a natural. Kimi is an ace at lawn mower racing so he would be right at home too. Instead of the current grid girls they could find some fetching milk maids and Bernie could be the crusty old Joe Grundy type moaning about everything. Instead of the FIA running the show the NFU could look after things . What’s not to like!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.