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Why Formula 1 isn’t popular in the USA

Why Formula 1 isn’t popular in the USA
Photo by José Pablo Domínguez / Unsplash

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of the motorsport,” said 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. He is not wrong. Formula 1 has a massive viewership of 500M and even a Netflix series. But despite all of its efforts, Formula 1 hasn’t been popular in the US.

I’ve been an F1 fan for 5 years. I love the adrenaline it gives you when a driver is overtaking or crashing into barriers. You never know what happens in a race. And I love that suspense. Now, onto the topic.

7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton at US Grand Prix, 2017. Source

In 2017, Formula 1 was acquired by Liberty Media, a US Company, for $4.4B. Liberty Media made some drastic changes to F1. Such as producing a Netflix series, Launching an app for fans and much more. But, there’s one thing missing. American Driver.

There hasn’t been an American in F1 since Scott Speed raced for Toro Rosso in 2007. And last successful driver was back in 1978, Mario Andretti. Let’s look at possible reasons as to why F1 isn’t as popular as NASCAR in America.

Difficult to Watch

Mainly because of the time difference. If you want to watch F1 live, then you have to stay up all night. It’s hard to get into a sport you can’t watch live. Even if you wanted to buy tickets for Austin GP, it would be sold out months before the actual race (possibly by European fans).

Also, F1 tickets cost 8x more than NASCAR tickets around $240-$1500 for 3 days.

No Driver to root for

As I’ve stated previously, It’s been 14 years since the last American raced at F1. Although Haas has been a constructor for around 6 years, they’ve never had a good enough season to attract American Fans.

So much so that their two drivers are now racing for the last position this season.


Formula 1 has always been about pushing technology forward in the automotive world. If you want to watch a race, you have to understand aerodynamics, tyres(that’s right!), pitstop strategy, etc. Basically, if you watch F1 races, then you’re considered as a “nerd”.

Compare that to NASCAR’s rough, raw, simplistic racing that’s been loved by the Americans for decades.

2005 US Grand Prix

Fans angry on Formula 1. Source

2005 US Grand Prix is considered a low point in American racing history. 14 cars were withdrawn at the last minute due to safety concerns. This left fans disappointed and cheated of their money. This left a black mark on Formula 1 in the US. The media called it a disaster. Formula 1 left the USA after 2007. It returned in 2012 to Austin and has been racing ever since.

In my opinion, these are the reasons F1 hasn’t been popular in the US. Hopefully, that changes as a new Miami Grand Prix has been announced for next year.