March 24, 2022
After a controversial ending in 2021, changes to rules and regulations promise an unpredictable year for Formula 1. The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix certainly delivered in that respect: Sunday’s dramatic race saw a one-two finish for Ferrari, and a surprising third place for Mercedes’ seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
We compared search results for ‘Ferrari’ and ‘Mercedes’ to find out how people are reacting to Formula 1, its new rules, and the first race of the year. By analysing online conversation surrounding the two brands, we were able to identify key trends and gain insight into F1’s marketing strategies.
1. Conversations Spike On Formula 1 Race Days
It’s something of a given that results for ‘Mercedes’ and ‘Ferrari’ spike on race days, but it’s still quite something to see. Formula 1’s social media accounts dominate the conversation with multiple posts, using its huge reach and trending content focussed on the winning team to propel engagement. This coverage allows F1 to jump on the back of Ferrari’s success, directing hype from the team’s win to their own online platforms.
2. There Is More Engagement Around The Losing Team
Though ‘Ferrari’ has more mentions online, ‘Mercedes’ has higher engagement. Negative sentiment for ‘Mercedes’ is driven by conversation around ‘Ferrari’ and ‘Max Verstappen’. Though some users have accused Mercedes fans of “jumping ship” after Ferrari’s win, it is mostly centred around the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi. There is a huge amount of concern with fairness in light of Max Verstappen’s controversial victory, and fans continue to express anger toward the FIA. This shows us that supporters are more likely to express their unhappiness about their team’s loss rather than discuss the opposing team’s triumph.
3. People Are Responding More To Formula 1 Video Content
Most influencer engagement is taking place on TikTok and YouTube, with numbers from Twitter coming in surprisingly low for the platform with the most real-time updates. Despite having the third smallest reach, Ferrari’s five Tiktok posts had collectively brought in the most engagement out of all recognised influencers at the time of our search. Interestingly, Mercedes’ four posts on TikTok had almost 15x more reach than Ferrari, but received less than half the amount of engagement.
4. More Women Are Talking About The Losing Team
Looking at gender demographics, 25.7% of the people talking about Ferrari were women compared to 31% for Mercedes. Although men seem to lead conversations surrounding Formula 1, the results showed that women felt more sympathetic towards the runner-up. One post on Twitter read, “Max Verstappen mocking the Mercedes car yesterday. Fast forward a day to the race and both Max and his teammate fail to finish the race and Lewis gets third place. Oh the karma.”
5. Millennials Are Driving The Conversation
Age is a pretty interesting one. Though remarkably popular among Gen Z viewers, it is the millennials that are the most reactive. Results for the age groups participating in the online conversation surrounding both terms is pretty consistent, which tells us that Formula 1 is targeting a younger audience. A Global Survey commissioned by Motorsport Network in partnership with F1 and Nielsen Sports found that Formula 1 fans are becoming younger and more diverse thanks to a digital-first approach and projects like the Netflix documentary, Drive to Survive. In response to the survey, F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali said,
“Increased diversity and a younger audience will enable us to be richer in terms of being able to capture the attention of more people. That’s really something that we’ve seen the effect of by having the right language, the right narrative and the right tools that are closer to how the younger generation is working and behaving. That’s really something we’re going to push even harder in that respect. This is for sure the most encouraging and most important push that we need to keep our wave to the future.”
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