US F1 racing strategy doesn’t convince fans to stay

When I asked new motorsport enthusiast Alexandra Kueller about her first experience in Formula 1, she summed it up in one word: corporate. A recent live race conversion after mi-COVID Drive to survive frenzy, Kueller took advantage of a free ticket to his very first race, the 2022 Miami Grand Prix. From his perspective, the event simply did not live up to its immense hype.

“I don’t know if I had any expectations of Miami, but what I take away the most is that this race was for business rather than fans,” Kueller said. “It was very capitalist – and it’s silly to say that, because I understand that they have to make money. It just seemed like the fans were there to walk around and spend money, but they are not who this race was for.

When I asked Kueller to paint a picture of his experience, it wasn’t exactly promising: “Fortunately, we had seats in the shade, but if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have could justify sitting there for hours. with such a limited view of the track. It’s May in Miami, and this race is taking place in a parking lot. We had great seats, but there was only a limited amount of equipment they could fit.

“It’s not that I will never go back to F1,” she explained. “I just won’t be going back to Miami unless it’s with another free ticket.”

Kueller isn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed with her trip to Florida. another fan, Kate, who asked to be referred to by her first name only but checked into the race with Jalopnik, found that her very first Grand Prix had left her wondering if the whole ‘race’ was worth his time.

“I had never really looked to go to a race before,” Kate told Jalopnik, “so I didn’t realize I was paying through the nose for something that isn’t typical of a Grand Prix. .”

Between race tickets, accommodation and flights, Kate estimates she spent somewhere “between $4,000 and $5,000” for a Thursday-Monday trip. A New Mexico native who spent her college years in Florida, Kate said she felt she was better prepared. than most to cope with the heat. Even she was surprised by the lack of shade or hydration options.

“I had sweat all through my shirt before I even hit the track, but I kept telling myself it would be okay once I could get some shade,” Kate said. Unfortunately the shade was hopelessly limited; the moment she entered the track, she was joining hordes of other sweaty fans battling for relief from the heat. We both shared a laugh as she compared the event to Warped Tour, a massive summer festival for indie and emo bands that often took place in a parking lot. The biggest differences, Kate said, were “ticket prices and the fact that I’m just too old for that now.”

Kate, like Kueller, decided at the end of the weekend that she would not return to the Miami Grand Prix.

“Do you remember this line in tiger king; ‘I’m never going to get over this financially’?” Kate asked. “Like, it wasn’t completely This bad, but now I’m looking at all these other races I could have gone to overseas for less money, and I kind of feel like I’ve been screwed.

Kevin, another fan who asked to be referred to by his first name, was a little different. The 2022 Miami Grand Prix was just one of many Grands Prix he has entered. A lifelong American F1 fan, he flew his Ferrari flag on the racetrack from the very first GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He saw the complex evolution of the sport here in the United States, and at first he was thrilled at the opportunity to head to two American Grand Prix in one season.

“I had this bad feeling from the moment I bought my tickets,” he said. “I convinced my wife to go through Monaco for our honeymoon. Miami prices? I blew Monaco out of the water.

His track experience also left him distinctly unsatisfied. Jalopnik reader Kevin pointed to the article I wrote after Miami last yearwhere I noted how out of place I felt as a former poor kid in an atmosphere less dedicated to motorsport and more to cultivating an image of wealth and celebrity.

“It was just a bunch of people going so they could put it on their TikTok,” Kevin said, noting that he was certainly aware he looked “like an old fart.”

“But it was the first time on the track where I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with anyone else,” he added, his voice tinged with sadness. . “I was like, this isn’t racing. This isn’t Formula 1. This is a high-end selfie museum in a parking lot.

I asked if Kevin, a Florida native himself, would race again, and he laughed.

β€œIt’s the easiest race, in terms of distance, for me. I went there in a few hours. But would I come back? He’s laughing. “Yeah, maybe if I paid what the tickets were worth.”

“What would you say your tickets were worth?” I asked. For reference, Kevin told me he left with a three-day general admission ticket, which cost just under $600 last year.

Kevin thought for a moment before replying, β€œ$300, $350, tops. $400 for GA, and you push it for any track, let alone one where you can’t see anything.

F1 has always struggled to attract and retain an American following. Here in the United States, we cultivate a relationship to sport quite different from what we find in Europe; as far as the motorsport field is concerned, we have had enough national products that we have not really necessary Formula 1 to entertain us.

That started to change when the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone indoors to do nothing but watch Netflix for hours. People with absolutely no interest in racing lit up SDR for a little something to watch, and they were hooked. Fans of the show have become fans of the sport, and when F1 returned to the Circuit of the Americas in 2021 after its pandemic-cancelled event the year before, it was to register record crowds.

F1 naturally saw an opportunity in America and worked to seize it. If hundreds of thousands of fans showed up at a purpose-built track outside of Austin, Texas, how many would show up, say, in the heart of a major city? How many races could a large country support while retaining enough exclusivity per event to continue selling grandstands?

The answer, of course, is too complex to be summed up in a few words, but F1 has decided to take a chance by deepening its competitive field here in the United States. He decided that, for the first time since 1982, three races in America could actually work.

F1 might have spoken too soon, if only because its ambitious plans completely bypassed fans ready to show up to as many races as possible and went straight for VIPs. F1 fell for FOMO marketing.

FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’, is an acronym that has gained momentum in our social media driven world, because we can see so many people posting about their good life, and we also want to do the experience. This fear of missing out lends itself easily to marketing; if this TikTok influencer credits a certain product with her youthful, dewy skin, you’ll definitely want to buy it. If this Instagrammer has been to a particularly beautiful place in Italy, well, you’ll want to go there too.

But this type of marketing strategy can only go so far because it is rooted in a rapidly changing attention economy. No influencer today will be able to make a career out of the “cottagecore” trend, because that trend is over. The influencer needs to move on now that the hype surrounds a different trend.

You can see it in play with the Miami Grand Prix. This first year, everyone wanted to be there. It was a new race. It was exciting. It was going to be glamorous, but it also promised to be a bit silly. It was THE place to be if you wanted to be seen as an F1 fan in 2022.

This year, less than a month from the race, the circuit is begging fans to renew their tickets.

I spoke to another fan, Andrew, who forwarded me the increasingly desperate emails he was getting from Miami GP organizers pointing out flash sales and reduced ticket prices. The most recent was dated less than three weeks after the race weekend – a dramatic change from 2022, when tickets sold out almost immediately.

FOMO marketing is a fine line to balance. On the one hand, charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for tickets to a race creates a feeling of exclusivity that can entice people to attend. But if no one on the trail has experienced hundreds or thousands of dollars worth, they won’t come back. Instead of creating a dedicated fan base, F1 has created an event that is doomed as soon as the FOMO hype continues. All of us know what the Miami GP looks like now. We have seen this happen. Maybe we were there. But now there’s another race – an even more expensive and exclusive race – on the calendar. Miami is no longer the place to be seen. Now we look at Las Vegas.

This strategy works, but not for long. The huge chasm between ticket prices and expectations at American street racing is not designed to create long-term investments in the American fan base; it is meant to make the most money in the shortest time. In the meantime, new F1 fans will lose interest. Longtime fans will be looking overseas. The sport will wither away in America as fast as it exploded. If Formula 1 intends to sustainably dig the American public, its current strategy is unsustainable. He needs to do better – not just for the fans, but for himself.

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