F1 and its struggle to dominate the market in Australia


The history of official motoring competitions in Australia dates back a century, when events of the Alpine Rally from 1921 and then the first Grand Prix of that country, in 1928, although with only local pilots. His rise in this sport occurred in 1985 when he was part of the season of Formula 1 constantly, since he was only absent in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. But despite this track record, motorsport is still far from conquering the Australian market.

“We love football, cricket and horse racing. The Formula 1 it was imposed as a sophisticated marketing tool to promote the country, but it is not yet an event that is entrenched in the Australian psyche”, Andrew Westacott, head of the organizing committee of the Australian Grand Prixin an interview given to Business Daily in 2015.

According to a report from Sports Geeksmotor racing ranks tenth among the most watched sports in Australiawhile the first five places are occupied, in order of hierarchy, by cricket, Australian rules football (a system of local competition similar to rugby), soccer, tennis and horse racing.

One of the ways to increase the market is the permanence of the Grand Prix Australian within the last 37 seasons of the Formula 1 (with the exception of the aforementioned absences due to the pandemic), but another of the strongest arguments is the presence of its drivers: Australia has had 17 drivers within the “Great Circus”, the 12th highest figure among the 41 different nationalities that there has been in this highest category. Currently the representative of this country in the F1 is Daniel Riccardo, from the McLaren team.

“My biggest plan is to have Daniel Riccardo on top of the podium as the first Australian winner of the event in Melbourne. I’m not sure how, but it would be great to see him there.” Andrew Westcott.

Australia is the only Oceanian venue to have hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix since the competition’s birth in 1950. Of the 34 countries in the world that have hosted at least once, Australia ranks 14th with the most races (35), above the Netherlands, Argentina and Portugal.

Between 1985 and 1995 the Australian Grand Prix it was held in the city of Adelaide, where it set its national attendance record with 520,000 in its last year there. Starting in 1996, the race moved to Melbourne’s Albert Park, where the last recorded attendance was 324,000 in 2019, to see Valtteri Bottas win with the Mercedes team. The top winner of this Grand Prix is ​​Michael Schumacher with four (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004), but he could be tied in this 2022 with a victory by veteran Sebastian Vettel, who currently runs for Aston Martin.

The influx to Melbourne Grand Prix it had not dropped below 100,000 on the day of the race and 290,000 including the three days of presence of Formula 1 in the country, however, in 2016 the figures fell to 90,200 and 272,300, respectively. According to an investigation by the Australian media Herald Sunthe strongest revenue for Australia through this show comes from box office sales, but its bottom line is still below other sports.

“To put that into context, Cricket Australia gets more than half of its revenue from the sale of its television rights alone, while the AFL (Australian Football League) broadcast rights provide roughly half of its turnover. the league. Furthermore, while these two sports have strong family attendance bases, F1 suffered during the global financial crisis (of 2009). In 2005 it collected 52 million dollars in revenue, but in 2010, in the shadow of the crisis, that number plummeted to just over 31 million”, said Jeff Whalley, a journalist for the Herald Sun.

Still, the head of the organizing committee is confident of delivering a quality event to continue to appeal to the Australian market, especially after a two-year break.

“People have loved motorsports in Australia since the days when Jack Brabham was racing all over the world (…) In this environment, continuous innovation and renewal is absolutely essential. The challenge we have is unique. We have the Grand Prix once a year and we can’t afford to do well for only half of it.”

With the return of a grid in full consolidation, with the riders from ferrari (Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sáinz) giving a renewed fight to the champions of Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton) and Red Bull (Max Verstappen), as well as the presence of a national rider (Daniel Ricciardo), the expectation of the Formula 1 in Australia it starts to cause noise like it did from 2019 backwards.

According to Australia’s Minister for Tourism, Sports and Major Events, Martin Pakula, hotels in melbourne and its environs will reach 90% occupancy one night before the main race on April 10, while Andrew Westacott estimates that up to 25,000 people will be left wanting a ticket because there is not enough space to accommodate them. These directors also pointed out that the tickets for the 12 regular grandstands were sold out from 18 weeks before the event of this 2022, when the previous record was six weeks in advance.

According to a study carried out by the Ministry of Tourism of the state of Victoria, where melbournethe state economic impact of a Formula 1 Grand Prix is ​​1.4 billion Australian dollars (about 1.045 million US dollars at current exchange rates), derived from the visit of an average of 230,000 international tourists.

“It is one of the largest projects in the southern hemisphere. It is very important for our business, but also for the events industry in general. It is a phenomenon that has come back with a bang and it is really important for the culture of Victoria”, concluded Gab Robinson, executive director of Harry the Hirer, the company that builds the infrastructure for the race and in which, heading to the Grand Prix 2022more than 250 people have worked.

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