Content consumption refers to F1-related social media engagement, streaming the Netflix show “Drive to Survive” and race-weekend viewership

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Watch them drive: Community and Content predictors of Formula 1 Fanship.

Robin Kuiten 13261495 Master’s Thesis Graduate School of Communication, University of Amsterdam Master’s programme Communication Science Jeroen Lemmens Word Count: 6888 July 8, 2022



In the last few years, Formula 1 (F1) has been steadily rising in popularity, attracting more attention and fans than ever before. The aim was to find what factors contributed to this rise in fandom. Specifically, whether age and gender affect the likelihood of being a Formula 1 fan when mediated by Formula 1-related content consumption. Moreover, whether this fanship is affected by the community ties fans might have towards each other in the Formula 1 fandom.

Content consumption refers to F1-related social media engagement, streaming the Netflix show

“Drive to Survive” and race-weekend viewership. Community within the Formula 1 fandom refers to potential parasocial relationship with drivers and feelings of relatedness within the F1 fandom. A survey was conducted (N = 149) and 3 mediation models were then tested. Results showed that younger people who consume more content were more likely to be bigger fans, that women are more affected by F1-related social media engagement, while men are more affected by race-weekend viewership. Results also showed that younger people who have stronger parasocial relationships with drivers and have more feelings of relatedness in the F1 community are more likely to be bigger fans.



“Formula 1 is the ultimate competition, you’ve got drama, competitiveness, high stakes and politics” says Christian Horner, the team boss at Red Bull (Battan, 2022). These elements that Mr. Horner mentions are one of the reasons why Formula 1 translates so effortlessly to one’s screen, whether this be in the form of an action-packed TV-show or a social media post.

The sport may have been around for many decades already, but its new business model, which includes bringing the dramatics of F1 to mainstream media, may well be one of the root causes for its recent rise in popularity (Ruiz, 2022) and its increasing number of fans worldwide. Fans are, by definition, people who strongly identify and have passionate interest in something. They tend to feel deeply connected to their interest and the community surrounding it (Reysen &

Brandscom, 2010). This is no different for Formula 1. Fan-identification and the strength of fanship can depend on many factors, ranging from community ties to the type of content one consumes (Driel, Gantz & Lewis, 2019, Chung & Cho, 2017). Moreover, based on previous research it appears that age and gender are leading contributors to a shift in fanship (Gantz &

Lewis, 2021). With regards to gender, in the last four years alone, there has been a doubling in female fans, going from 8% to 18% (Vaughn, 2021) and the average audience member is younger than ever before, between 16 and 25 (Lu, 2022). Fans are getting younger and more women are becoming interested in the sport, expanding the fandom beyond what it was defined by previously.

Formula 1 has had success since its beginnings in the late 20th century, however, in recent years, it has experienced a rise in fandom that has never been seen before (Ruiz, 2022).

The online presence the sport has been pushing could very well be one of the central reasons.

A strong online existence can both entice older fans, while simultaneously bringing in a newer generation, it can create a sense of togetherness among fans (Stavros et al., 2014). In Formula 1, since 2020, the total online follower count, across all F1 social media platforms, has risen


40% (Bradley, 2021). On top of social media content, Netflix, a video streaming website, has released the fourth season of its successful show centered around Formula 1 called “Drive to Survive”. The show managed to tap into an entirely new audience and has converted agnostic fans into passionate supporters. Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ latest season had over 4 million streams in its opening weekend (Nelson, 2022). Since 2019, each televised F1 race has an estimated viewership of a billion spectators, and social media networks tied to F1 teams and drivers have grown in follower count exponentially (Bradley, 2021). Fans have adopted content revolving around the sport as a new way of connecting and growing their appreciation for Formula 1.

Fandom has an undeniable social component as well (Reysen & Brandscom, 2010).

Within the Formula 1 fandom, feelings of belonging and community are elements that can lead to people becoming bigger fans. Fans find enrichment and joy in watching with others and making the race weekend a social activity, as it can lead to feelings of relatedness among fans and community with F1 enthusiasts (Driel, Gantz & Lewis, 2019). Relatedness among fans, meaning there is a certain understanding and kinship among F1 aficionados, is crucial to the fandom being social with one another, and creating a sense of community. These feelings of community also translate to parasocial relationships with drivers (one-sided relationship with media figures). It makes the sport more personable and makes a fan feel more related to their favorite driver. Having parasocial relationship with media personalities, which is usually amplified by increased social media use, leads to people becoming more dedicated fans (Tukachinsky & Stever, 2019).

It raises the question whether there are specific factors, or an explicit profile, that might lead to a stronger sense of fan identification in the world of Formula 1, hence, the current study will attempt to answer the following: What predictors contribute to the recent rise in popularity


of Formula 1 and are these mediated by community ties within the F1 fandom or the F1-related content one consumes?


Fig 1: General model

Age and Content Engagement in the F1 Fandom

While a fandom is inherently made up of dedicated fans, fanship refers to a more cognitive state of mind, a dedication to whichever interests one chooses (Reysen & Brandscom, 2010).

In Formula 1, fanship means people care and are passionate about what happens on a F1 track, and find following the races truly enjoyable. Being a fan and identifying as such means that the sport and the performance of wherever your preferences lie affect your mood and cognitive state (Hugenberg, Haridakis, & Earnheardt, 2014). Age and gender have been shown to affect fanship levels; with sports fanship showing signs of decreasing with age, more significantly among men then among women (Gantz & Lewis, 2021). The ‘college’ age group (18 to 25) express greater fanship for sports teams than other ages (Driel, Gantz & Lewis, 2019).

Presumably, this is because of a shift in priorities and individuals having less time. Older generations experience a decrease in passion towards their preferred sport (Gantz & Lewis, 2021), which could lead to potentially lowering their fanship levels. It appears that the older a Independent Variable:

- Age - Gender

Content Mediator - Social Media

Consumption - Race Weekend


- “Drive to Survive” Dependent Variable:

- Fanship Community Mediator

- Relatedness - Parasocial



fan gets, the less dedicated they become. Hence, in previous research, age has been shown to affect fanship levels in individuals.

Content consumption could be a leading factor in dictating differences in the relationship between age and fanship. Content consumption comes in many forms, from watching F1 races, following teams and drivers on social media, or even streaming TV-shows related to the sport. Increased sports viewing, the first type of content consumption, is linked to fans appreciating the entertainment value of their sport of choice, and the representation they feel they are getting of their favorite sportsman or woman (Hu & Tang, 2010). It appears that increased viewership is linked to heightened fan identification partially because it allows the viewer to see their preferred sportsman in action (Laverie & Arnett, 2000). When one identifies as a fan of a sport, their international viewing increases as well as their viewing time (Hu &

Tang, 2010).

The second type of content consumption, social media, can lead to increased engagement from fans, and in sports specifically, it allows for sporting organizations to create long-lasting relationship with their fanbase and heightens fanship (Stavros et al., 2014).

According to research, when one consumes more social media content linked to their sport of choice, they tend to have higher fanship levels. Emerging adults tend to heavily use social media (Arnett, 2000). 84% of people aged 18 to 29 use social media, compared to the slightly lower percentage of 81% between the ages of 30 to 49. This number slowly decreases to 73%

social media usage between ages 50 to 64 (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). This points towards social media content consumption decreasing with age. However, according to the previous studies discussed above, any form of social media engagement has the potential to lead to bigger feelings of fanship.

The last form of content is ‘Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” (DTS), a reality-tv show concerning Formula 1 on-and-off track. It has soared in popularity and has led many new fans


who were previously indifferent to the sport to become dedicated F1 supporters (Lu, 2022).

The show offered a new insight into an established and long-existing sport. It has enabled older fans to get a completely different approach and view into their beloved Formula 1, while adding newer, younger, fans by getting them hooked to a new form of entertainment (F1) (Smith, 2021). Increased streaming of DTS may then lead to increased fanship, specifically among younger fans. Thus, increased content consumption, in the form of race weekend viewership, social media content and watching DTS could impact the relationship between age and fanship.

Q1: How does age, mediated by F1-related content consumption, affect F1 fanship?

Fig 2: How age affects fanship when mediated byF1-related content consumption.

Age and Community in the F1 Fandom

As previously mentioned, a sports fan’s dedication to their preferred interest can differ in various stages in their lives. Existing research has indicated that there may be a decrease in sports fanship as someone gets older because of a lessening in dedication to their sport of choice (Gantz & Lewis, 2021). An essential part of any sports fandom is the community and the people surrounding it (Reysen & Brandscom, 2010). What defines a fan, in terms of relatedness to other fans and their feelings of closeness to the personalities in the sports (parasocial relationships), plays an cruciall role in their fanship and dedication to their sport of choice


F1-related social media content

consumption Race weekend


“Drive to Survive”



(Hugenberg et al., 2014; Mowen, 2004; Cunningham & Kwon, 2003; Jacobson, 2003; Sun &

Wu, 2012).

Feelings of belonging and community have been shown to lead to heightened sports fanship. Fans find enrichment and joy in watching with others and making the race weekend a social activity (Driel, Gantz & Lewis, 2019). Relatedness is part of the self-determination theory (Ryan, 2009), and is an essential component of human behavior and feelings of satisfaction. Feeling related to others is part of a person’s overall happiness (Ryan, 2009).

Sports can offer this by creating platforms for communities and relatedness between fans (Maeda & Tomiyama, 2019). Some research points towards the idea that people in a student- like framework or context are more likely to need community groups within sports compared to older people who are not in this age group anymore. Students appear to be looking for increased social connections to grow their social circle, and sports communities and fandoms allow them to find this (Cox, Duncheon, & McDavid, 2009; Moreno, Rojas, & Gonzalez-Cutre, 2008; Warner & Dixon, 2013). Diminished fanship with age may be tied to an older generation needing less relatedness, as they might already have an established social circle around them.

Sports communities allow individuals to connect with likeminded fans.

Feelings of relatedness within the F1 community can also be seen when fans feel a sense of closeness with the F1 drivers. Parasocial relationships are the one-sided interpersonal relationship that the audience establishes with media personalities, in this case Formula 1 drivers (Hartmann, 2008). These relationships are nondialectical and nonreciprocal and are imaginary between the driver (the media personality) and the people who sense they have a potential relationship with the driver (media audience) (Sun & Wu, 2012). Individuals who lack an overall sense of belonging in their lives, could lean towards a heightened sense of parasocial relationship with media figures (Tsao, 1996). Sports fanship offers both the potential to find community and a sense of belonging, as well as parasocial relationship with F1 media


personalities. The one-sidedness of the relationship results in a lack of fear towards potential rejection and gives an individual the feeling they “fit in”, which can lead to higher feelings of fanship (Tukachinsky & Stever, 2019).

According to past research, younger viewers are more likely to become fans (Gantz &

Lewis, 2021) because they feel more dedicated to their sport of choice and more connected to the community within a sports fandom. Plus, heightened fanship can be linked to individuals who feel more relatedness in a sport and/or feel they have a parasocial relationship with sports personalities. Thus, the relationship between age and fanship, mediated by community ties, could lead to interesting insights in the heightening of fanship.

Q2: How does age, mediated by feelings of community within the F1 fandom, affect F1 fanship?

Fig 2: How age affects fanship when mediated by community in F1 fandom.

Gender and Content Consumption in the F1 Fandom

Ideally, sports fandoms would be a more open, accepting place where anybody who has a keen interest in sports is welcome. There would be less discrimination between male and female fans, and the most important precursor to entering a fandom would be a passionate attitude about the sport. This discrimination is still relevant today and occurs across different sports fandoms. Feminist sports scholars have been characterizing sports as a male-dominated field for a long time (Esmond, Cooky & Andrews, 2015). The sports universe is known for being exclusionary to women, and enforcing long-standing gender stereotypes and hierarchies



Fanship Parasocial



(Esmonde, Cooky & Andrews, 2018; Jones, 2008). However, the ‘feminization’ of sports fandom, Pope (2017) argues, has slowly been happening since the 1990’s. There have been increasing amounts of opportunities for women to enter the sports fandom world, and in recent years, the global sports scene has offered more visible roles for women as fans and consumers (Tofoletti, 2017). Some argue that this opening can be linked back to women having more power in choosing what they enjoy for leisure, rather than being told what is appropriate (Pope, 2017). It is difficult to put a number on the growing amount of female fans in various sports organizations, as many past studies have used quantitative methods. However, when looking at the Formula 1 fandom, this ‘feminization’ idea is supported by the doubling of female fans in the last four years, going from 8% to 18% (Vaughn, 2021).

It can be argued that one of the reasons for this increase in female fanship is the increased amount of content created surrounding Formula 1. In sports fandom’s getting ‘in’, as Esmond et al. (2015) explain, is often met with barriers and challenges when the fandom perceives you as an outsider. Social media offers newer and easier ways for fans to become involved within the fandom, it allows access to the personalities and the lifestyle of a sports organization making it feel more personable and approachable (Pope, 2017). “Drive to Survive” allows for the same thing to happen. The previously obtuse organization of F1 was suddenly spread wide open for anyone with a Netflix subscription to enjoy. It allowed fans to make personal connections with F1’s many personalities and feel closer to the sport. All-in all, DTS allowed the entertainment value of the sport to increase. DTS puts a spotlight on the big personalities, the micro dynamics between teams, and the melodrama of F1 as a whole. It shifts the focus from the intricate technological implications of the sport to the politics, competitiveness, and drama of Formula 1 (Battan, 2022). Women specifically, may be more interested in this shift of focus for the fandom as they tend to appreciate the more personable approach to teams and drivers. It appears to make them more invested and feel closer to the


sport (Bishop, 2021). According to past research, there appears to be a noticeable difference in fanship between men and women and the way in which they engage with the fandom. Content, defined by race weekend viewership, social media content and watching “Drive to Survive”, plays a big role in increasing engagement with the fandom, and allowing a closer look into Formula 1. Therefore, the relationship between gender and fanship, mediated by content consumption could lead to relevant results regarding to recent rise in F1 popularity.

Q3: How does gender, mediated by F1-related content consumption, affect F1 fanship?

Fig 3: How gender affects fanship when mediated through by F1-related content consumption

Method Sample

The relationship between the variables was tested quantitively, using primary data. The online survey method was chosen because it made finding the corresponding population easier.

Respondents needed to have prior knowledge of Formula 1 to be eligible for this study.

Initially, there were 212 respondents, but 63 were excluded from the sample because they stopped responding after the initial items of the survey. Further, the 2 respondents that selected

‘non-binary’ as their gender were excluded from calculations that included a gender analysis, Gender

F1-related social media content


“Drive to Survive”

Fanship Race weekend



as they did not represent a big enough percentage to affect the results. Final sample size is N = 149. All respondents (M age = 33.12, SD = 14.43) had to be above 18 years old and have some form of prior knowledge of F1. Since the aim of the study was to analyze the relationship between various precursors to Formula 1 fanship, only participants who had prior knowledge about, or some exposure to the sport, could contribute to the survey and getting valid results.

This was made possible by posting the survey on specific F1 reddit and Instagram pages as well as directly contacting people whom the researcher knew had prior knowledge about F1.

Most respondents were male (N = 110, 74.83 %), the second largest group of respondents was female (N = 37, 25.17 %) and the smallest was non-binary (N = 2, 1.34%). The biggest percentage of respondents were European (71.2%), second largest was American (16.8%), then Asian (4.1%), then African (3.4%), second to smallest was South American (2.7%) and the smallest percentage was Australian (1.3%). Specifically, the largest group of respondents was from The Netherlands (22.1%).


Data collection was done using Qualtrics, and then transferred to SPSS, a statistical software platform, where the data analysis was conducted. To make sure that reliability, validity, and replicability are high, the measurements of the various variables were done using existing scales and measures, that had been adapted to the topic at hand. Non-probability sampling was used by combining convenience and snowball sampling. Snowball sampling allowed the researcher to directly contact people who are interested in Formula 1, who subsequently contacted others with similar or comparable interest. The survey was shared on various online platforms that are followed by Formula 1 enthusiast. This includes Instagram, LinkedIn and specific F1-related reddit pages.

The survey was split into nine blocks that included one to five scale questions each concerning a separate variable. It started with asking for consent, followed by demographics


asking age, gender and nationality. The second block concerned viewership. Then, the respondent’s favorite driver on the current grid was to be selected using a drop-down menu, followed by items concerning parasocial relationships and items targeting driver-specific fanship. Fanship in relation to F1 in general and F1 teams was measured in the next block, split by a drop-down menu asking respondents for their favorite F1 team in the current grid (the 2022 F1 season). Next, community and relatedness within the F1 community was measured.

The last three blocks of the survey were about content consumption, starting with “Drive to Survive”. Respondents were asked how many seasons they had watched, if any at all, followed by questions concerning their enjoyment and the accuracy of the representation of the sport.

The next two blocks, also being the final ones, were split by social media following of the F1 teams, and the F1 drivers. Each block had three questions targeting the frequency at which respondents followed, liked, or commented of the teams or drivers TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.


Fanship. The fanship variable was measured using the existing Stephen-Reysen Fanship Scale, which measures the degree of interest of a fan; in this case Formula 1. It is a 10- item scale that uses a nominal form of measurement from 1, very strongly disagree to 9, very strongly agree (Reysen & Branscomb, 2010). It was shortened for this study by excluding 2 items with low factor loadings. The items were also adapted by making them Formula 1 specific, targeting fanship in F1 teams, F1 drivers and F1 as a sport. After adapting it to the study at hand and making it cohesive with the rest of the variables, the answering scale was a 5-point Likert scale, going from 1 = totally disagree, too 5 = totally agree. Items included:

“formula 1 is a part of me”, “when my favorite racing driver is gaining popularity, I feel great”

and “I am emotionally connected to my favorite team”. The 8 items (M = 3.16, SD = .75) had good internal consistency (a = .86).


Relatedness. The concept of relatedness was measured using an adapted version of the

“Brief Sense of Community Scale (BSCS)”, which originally has 8 items measuring emotional connection, group membership, influence, and fulfillment (Peterson, Speer & McMillan, 2008). The edited version used for this study had 5 items, adapted to target F1 fan communities specifically. Items included “being part of the F1 community makes me feel good” and “being part of the F1 community is part of my identity”. The answering scale was a 5-point Likert scale, going from 1 = totally disagree, too 5 = totally agree. The 5 items (M = 3.36, SD = .81) had good internal consistency (a = .86).

Parasocial Relationship (PSR) with F1 Drivers. The potential parasocial relationships respondents felt with F1 drivers were measured using an adapted version of the 20-item Parasocial Interaction Scale created by Hartmann (2008). The four items with the highest factor loadings were selected and then adapted to PSR with Formula 1 drivers. Items included: “my favorite driver makes me feel as comfortable as when I am with friends” and “I mostly agree with the actions of my favorite driver”. The answering scale was a 5-point Likert scale, going from 1 = totally disagree, too 5 = totally agree. The 4 items (M = 3.52, SD = .76) had acceptable internal consistency for having less than 5 items (a = .69).

Race Weekend Viewership. This denotes the viewing of the various stages during a Formula 1 race weekend. To measure the number of stages a spectator is watching during said weekend, a 5-point scale going from ‘never’ to ‘always’ was used for each part of the Formula 1 racing including: free practice 1 and 2 on Friday (FP1 & FP2), free practice 3 on Saturday, qualifying on Saturday, the race on Sunday and lastly the post and pre interviews both on Saturday and Sunday after qualifying and the race itself (Bradley, 2021), meaning 9 items in total which included “free practice 3”, “post-qualifying show’ and “pre-race show”. The 9 items (M = 2.39, SD = .75) had a good internal consistency (a = .88).


Formula 1 related social media content consumption. This specific form of content consumption, F1-related social media, refers to people choosing to follow, like, or comment, on social media content related to Formula 1. It is concentrated on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook, split between the respective profiles of the twenty F1 drivers’ and the ten F1 teams’ profiles (of the current grid, the 2022 F1 season), measuring both actual following and engagement via frequency of ‘liking’ or ‘commenting’ on posts. Following was measured using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “none of them” to “all of them” when asked how many drivers or teams’ profiles they followed on each respective social media platform. Engagement, in the form of ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on team or drivers’ pictures or posts, was measured using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “never” to “everyday”. Items included: “Instagram”,

“TikTok”, “Facebook” and “Twitter” for following, liking, and commenting. This means that F1 drivers had 12 items, and F1 teams had the same. When combined, the 22 items measuring social media consumption (M = .7, SD = .72) had a good internal consistency (a = .88).

“Drive to Survive”. Watching “Drive to Survive” focused on the enjoyment of the viewer and whether they would come back to the show to watch more episodes. Five items were used to evaluate enjoyment. Items included: “I watch ‘Drive to Survive’ because I find it entertaining” and “I watch ‘Drive to Survive’ because I feel it teaches me something about F1”.

The answering scale was a 5-point Likert scale, going from 1 = totally disagree, too 5 = totally agree. The 5 items (M = 2.67, SD = 1.62) had an acceptable internal consistency (a = .79).


The first question of the current study concerns itself with the relationship between age and fanship via F1-related content engagement (social media engagement, viewership & DTS):

“How does age, mediated by F1-related content consumption, affect F1 fanship?”. The direct relationship between age and fanship was found to be insignificant r (147) = -.05, p = .536.


However, to test the indirect relationship the model 6 in PROCESS macro for SPSS (Hayes 2012) was utilized to do a mediation analysis using 5000 bootstrap samples. The model with age as a predictor of fanship, mediated by content engagement was found to be significant, R

= 0.66, R2 = 0.44, F (4, 144) = 27.92, p < .001. Direct and indirect relationships were found within this model. The independent variable, age, has a direct effect on the dependent variable, fanship when it is within the mediation model, ß = 0.01, t = 2.38, p = .018. It is a very small effect, meaning that the older one is, their fanship only increases slightly. Age also significantly influenced social media engagement, ß = - 0.02, t = - 4.49, p < 0.001, which subsequently affected fanship, ß = 0.35, t = 4.61, p < 0.001. These results points towards younger people engaging with more F1 related social media content, and the more one consumes F1 related social media content, the higher their levels of fanship. Similarly, age influenced watching DTS, ß = - 0.02, t = - 2.23, p = .027, which affected fanship, ß = 0.12, t = 3.87, p < 0.05.

Younger people consume more DTS, and fanship increases when DTS is streamed more.

Lastly, race weekend viewership significantly influenced fanship, ß = 0.35, t = 5.52, p = 0.001, meaning that when one views more stages of a race weekend, there levels of fanship increases slightly. The mediation model is displayed in Fig. 4. This model shows that age has an effect on fanship when mediated by social media engagement and streaming ‘Drive to Survive’ and increased race weekend viewership affects fanship.


Figure 4: How age affects fanship, when mediated through by content consumption

Note: *** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05

The second question utilized the same dependent variable age, and independent variable, fanship, but mediated through community (PSR and relatedness): “How does age, mediated by feelings of community within the F1 fandom, affect F1 fanship?”. As shown above, the direct relationship between age and fanship was found to be insignificant, r (147) = -.05, p = .536. However, using PROCESS model 6 once more, age as a predictor of fanship mediated by community was found to be significant, R = 0.78, R2 = 0.61, F (3, 145) = 74.44, p

< .001. Age significantly influenced PRS with F1 drivers, ß = -0.01, t = - 2.19, p = .03, which, in turn, influenced fanship, ß = 0.36, t = 5.25, p < 0.001. This indicates that older respondents have less parasocial relationships with drivers, and that the more PSR one has with drivers, the higher their fanship levels. Hence, younger respondents have more PSR, and in turn higher levels of fanship. Furthermore, age had a direct effect on relatedness, ß = - 0.01, t = - 3.47, p = .001, which indirectly influenced fanship, ß = 0.56, t = 9.97, p < 0.001. These results show that younger people are more likely to feel feelings of relatedness in the F1 fandom, and the higher

Age Race weekend


“Drive to Survive”

Fanship F1-related social

media content engagement -.35***

.03 -.19*






those feelings of relatedness are, the higher their levels of fanship as well. Fig 5 has a visual representation of the various mediation paths of this model. All in all, this model shows that age has a direct effect on both PSR with F1 drivers, and relatedness, and that both these mediators have corresponding significant indirect effects on fanship.

Figure 5: How age affects fanship when mediated by community in F1 fandom.

Note: *** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05

The final question examined the relationship between gender and fanship mediated through F1-related content consumption (social media engagement, viewership & streaming DTS): “How does gender, mediated by F1-related content consumption, affect F1 fanship?”.

To get a more complete image of the relationship between gender and fanship, an Independent Sample T-test was conducted in addition to the PROCESS model. There was no significant effect for gender on fanship, t (145) = -.41, p = .685, despite women (M = 3.21, SD = .72) attaining a slightly higher score than men (M = 3.15, SD = .77). The mediation model, however, was found to be significant, R = 0.66, R2 = 0.43, F (4, 142) = 26.86, p < .001. However, gender did not have a direct effect on fanship when mediated by content consumption, ß = - 0.066, t = - 0.566, p = 0.573, which means fanship levels are unaffected by gender, supporting the results of the T-Test. Nonetheless, there were some significant relationships found. Gender



Fanship PSR with F1

drivers -.18*






significantly influenced social media engagement, ß = 0.4, t = 3.01, p = .003, and this , in turn, affected fanship, ß = 0.31, t = 4.06, p = .001. This indicates that women who use more social media have higher levels of fanship. Interestingly, as opposed to age, gender had a direct effect on viewership, ß = -0.35, t = - 2.46, p = .015, and this had an indirect effect on fanship, ß = 0.37, t = 5.49, p = .000. This means that men watch more stages of a race weekend and the more stages one watches the higher their levels of fanship. Lastly, streaming DTS had a significant effect on fanship, ß = 0.11, t = 3.52, p = .001, meaning the more a respondents watched and enjoyed DTS the higher their fanship was. It appears that gender has significant t effects on fanship when mediated by social media engagement and viewership, but that streaming DTS only effects fanship. This model is represented in Fig 6.

Figure 6: How gender affects fanship when mediated through by content consumption

Note: *** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05


The main aim of this study was to find out what factors influence Formula 1 fanship.

The sport has steadily been gaining popularity in the last few years, where estimated audience

Gender Race weekend


“Drive to Survive”

Fanship F1-related social

media content engagement .56**








for each race has surpassed a billion spectators and TV viewers combined (Lu, 2022). The main goal of the research at hand was finding out what the predictors are in this rise in popularity;

specifically, whether age and gender influenced fanship, and whether this relationship was affected by Formula 1-related content consumption and feelings of community within the F1 fandom.

The most obvious relationship that was supported in our mediation analysis is that watching more facets of the sport during a race weekend led to stronger fanship, specifically for men. The most watched phases of the weekend by respondents are qualifying (51%) and the actual race (78%). The more one watches various phases of the weekend, the bigger fan they are, which includes fanship towards the drivers, the teams and F1 in general. Previous research support these findings, linking heightened viewership in sports to higher levels of fanship (Hu & Tang, 2010; Laverie & Arnett, 2000). Moreover, male fans being more influenced by heightened race weekend viewership could be linked to men being more easily accepted into sports fandoms in general (Esmond et al., 2015). Thus, the mediation results showcasing that men who watch more stages of an F1 race weekend are bigger fans can be tied to that explanation too. Increased F1-related social media use was also responsible for an increase in fanship. The expectation that more F1-related social media content consumption led to bigger feelings of fanship was supported. Anyone who actively engage with F1 social media are more likely to be bigger fans, even more so for younger women. This is supported by previous research, which states that women specifically, appreciate the more personable manner social media allows them to engage with Formula 1, its teams, its drivers, and its drama (Bishop, 2021). Moreover, younger people feel more passionate towards their sport of choice, which in this case F1 (Gantz and Lewis, 2021) and they use social media more frequently and often. They engage with the content on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook on an almost daily basis (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). The popular Netflix show “Drive to Survive” is one of


the other contributing factors to stronger feelings of fanship. The “Netflix effect” is a term coined by Morgan (2019) that encompasses the idea that, when certain shows come out on Netflix that are catapulted into success, often time its subject matter does the same. This effect can be seen in shows like “The Queen’s Gambit”, about a young chess prodigy. The show made chess set sales increase exponentially (Fazio, 2020). This idea can be seen with “Drive to Survive” as well; the four seasons that have come out since 2019 have been some of the most watched shows worldwide as soon as they hit Netflix’s new releases (Lu, 2020). Results show that individuals who watch and enjoy DTS on Netflix tend to be bigger fans of the sport. This, as indicated previously, is in line with the research concerning DTS, finding that the show offers newer, younger, fans to get hooked on a new form of entertainment (Smith, 2020). The show offered an easy way for newer fans to enter the fandom by presenting Formula 1 in an entertaining and easily digestible package and putting the melodramatics of the sport at the center of attention (Battan, 2022).

The Formula 1 community and fandom has only been growing, and as shown in research, the relatedness between sports enthusiasts can be a leading cause in becoming and attracting bigger fans (Cox, Duncheon, & McDavid, 2009; Moreno, Rojas, & Gonzalez-Cutre, 2008; Warner & Dixon, 2013). Watching Formula 1 with others and making fans identity a reason to partake in a social activity, is tied to people feeling higher levels of fanship and acceptance with the F1 community (Van Driel, Gantz & Lewis, 2019). This is reflected in the results: younger people who feel a stronger sense of relatedness in the F1 community are more likely to be bigger fans. A similar trend can be seen with parasocial relationships with drivers.

The most popular drivers in the current Formula 1 season (2022) are Max Verstappen (31%), Charles Leclerc (14%) and Lando Norris (12%). The fact that Max Verstappen is the most popular driver is not surprising. He is the 2021 world champion, and, among his generation of drivers, one of the most successful competitors in F1. His acquired success can be explained


by cumulative advantage (Meton, 1968), which proposes that the popularity or success of an individual (or group) can accumulate over time and can create bigger disparity between them and others. Meaning that the more someone wins, like Max Verstappen, the bigger their accolades, and by extension their popularity will be (DiPrete & Eirich, 2006). Connecting with one driver, whether it be Max Verstappen or another racer, and having a parasocial relationship with them, was also found to be one of the predictors of bigger feelings of fanship, specifically among younger people. Parasocial relationships with F1 drivers, can change the way one acts as a fan and make them feel more passionate towards their sport (Sun & Wu, 2012). This study emphasizes that relatedness and community among Formula 1 fans , remains one of the most significant predictors of strong feelings of fanship.

Implication for Formula 1’s communication strategy

There are certain elements that appear most relevant when considering further implications for Formula 1’s communication strategy with existing fans and potential newer fans. Based on the results, the recommendations would be to continue pushing for social media content engagement with fans, specifically targeting younger generations and women. In this demographic, as shown in the outcomes of this study, increased content engagement on social media leads to bigger feelings of fanship. Continuing to strive for this group to interact with F1 content, whether this be drivers or teams, could lead to potential new fans to get involved and engaged in the Formula 1 fandom. Moreover, Formula 1 as an organization could create more experiences surrounding the idea of community within the fandom. The results indicate that respondents who feel a sense of relatedness with their fellow fans score higher in fanship.

If F1 as an organization created opportunities in which fans can connect with one another easily, it could lead to more fans feeling welcome within the community. Looking at previous research, this could be particularly useful for women, as they tend to lack an entry point into sports fandoms and find it more difficult to feel accepted (Esmond et al., 2015). If Formula 1


created more opportunities for women to connect in their appreciation for the sport, it could have the potential of increased fanship and acceptance in the long-term. Lastly, it is clear in the results that “Drive to Survive” is a leading force in increased fanship of F1. Continuing to film the F1 seasons and extending their relationship with Netflix seems to be the greatest way forwards in terms of roping in new fans. As Smith (2021) explains, DTS is one of the most useful tools when it comes to maintaining strong feelings of fanship with older fans, and creating newer, younger fans simultaneously, which is also reflected in the results of this current study.

Limitations & Further Research

The scope of this research, particularly the somewhat limited sample size, is one of the leading limitations. Respondents had to fulfill very specific criteria which meant the survey could not be completed by everybody who was available. The precursor of the study was that respondents had prior knowledge about Formula 1, if not already be a fan. In the end, this meant that the valid sample size was quite small, certainly after removing all the incomplete responses that didn’t answer more than the first part of the survey. Although the results were still significant, this is something that should be considered as a limitation concerning the generalizability of the study. However, the research can be seen as a guiding study for future, bigger scale, quantitative research, as significant and relevant results came out of it. In a similar vein, results regarding gender would have been more conclusive and reliable if there was a bigger female answering pool. Lastly, with regards to limitations, in the questionnaire, when discussing social media platforms, the options assumed that respondents had a profile on the social media platforms used for this study. There should have been an option that offered respondents to select they did not have a profile on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok instead only having the lowest answering scale as an option. While this did not affect the


results, due to the somewhat smaller scale of the research, when future researchers potentially pursue a study in a similar vein, this option should be represented.

Considering the lack of research surrounding female fans of F1, future research could benefit from focusing more on the changing face of the Formula 1 fandom with regards to female involvement. More women are watching Formula 1 than ever before (Vaughn, 2021), and delving deeper into the reasons behind that could be a riveting direction to take for future researchers. Having a female-based study surrounding F1 and its fans could be crucial in further understanding what has changed in recent years. Additionally, studying the increased outwards communication that F1 has been pushing, specifically looking into Drive to Survive and the

“Netflix effect” (Morgan, 2019) could lead to interesting and relevant outcomes. The potential results could offer F1 as an organization a clearer path to take in future endeavors within their external communication, with existing and newer fans. Exploring the impact of diversifying content further is an important direction to take when trying to understand the Formula 1 fandom.


Formula 1 has transcended its identity from only being a motorsport to also being a source of entertainment for old and new fans alike. Its recent rise in popularity, including a massive increase in fans, as well as the boost in TV viewers and live spectators has been undeniable (Ruiz, 2022). The current study focused on finding what predictors were at the center of this boom in popularity, giving special attention to content engagement and community among fans. The results found that younger people are more likely to be bigger fans of the sport when mediated by F1-related content consumption and community. Even more so when said younger people actively engage with F1 related content. Younger women were bigger fans when the content consumption looked like F1-related social media following,


liking, and commenting. Similarly, younger people who felt a greater sense of relatedness among other Formula 1 fans and felt welcome within the community were bigger fans of Formula 1. The implementation of the results found could potentially be useful in F1’s communication strategy moving forwards. F1 could target more of their social media posts towards women and create content that resonates with a younger generation. The Netflix show

“Drive to Survive” was shown to be a potential predictor in getting new additional fans and expanding the fandom beyond what it has looked like. If they want to stay within this growth arc and continue to gain popularity globally, increasing the personable content they create, as well as building experiences for fans to connect with one another, can only help them in constructing a dedicated and long-lasting fanbase in the future.



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