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Politics-Free Formula 1 Races To Most-Watched Season In U.S. History

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It may come as a bit of a surprise, even to fans of auto racing, but Formula 1 revved it up in terms of television viewership in 2021.

In fact, this year’s Formula 1 season was the most-watched in U.S. history, averaging of 934,000 viewers on ESPN, ABC and ESPN2. Per Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, that number is “up 54% from last year’s delayed, shortened campaign (608K), up 39% from 2019 (672K) and up 25% from the previous all-time high of 748,000 in 1995.”

F1 is a sport with little off-track drama and almost zero politics. You can’t help but think that plays a role in its smashing TV viewership success.

But there’s plenty to like on the track. Overall, seven of the 10 most-watched races took place in 2021. The French Grand Prix in June drew 1.06 million eyeballs and the British Grand Prix pulled in 1.74 million, which trails only the ’95 Brazilian Grand Prix (1.03 million) as most viewed in the history of cable TV.

“The most-watched race of this season was one of the two to air on broadcast, the U.S. Grand Prix on October 24,” Lewis wrote. “That race averaged 1.2 million.”

Formula 1 is the highest class of international auto racing for single-seater formula racing cars.

“Notably, Sunday’s season finale was the ESPN networks’ highest rated show of the day in adults 18-49 (0.34) and 18-34 (0.27),” Lewis wrote. “Keep in mind that the primary ESPN network carried just two live sporting events all-day, a doubleheader in the Women’s Jimmy V Classic. The 0.27 in 18-34 outperformed all of ABC’s primetime shows Sunday night.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico is the assistant managing editor-newsdesk at OutKick. He is also the co-founder and senior writer at Hoopswire.com, and has covered the NBA for nearly 20 years, including his time at Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and CBS Sports. A native of Akron, Ohio, his writing career began in Wyoming.

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  1. The season finale was miraculous. They’ll never be able to top it.

    I just started to watch this year and was rooting for Verstappen from day 1. If you weren’t rooting for a Red Bull or Mercedes driver, you were basically wasting your time.

    I’d recommend the Netflix series for those who are interested in the rivalries and behind the scenes stresses.

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