Emily Ratajkowski attended the F1 2023 Miami Grand Prix this past weekend. And according to her social media, she had a damn good time.


She posted this TikTok, suggesting she was looking for a husband while at the event. And why wouldn’t she be looking for him there? There’s a bunch of attractive men that drive fast cars and make good money doing it. 

Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of the popular Netflix series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive. This February, the fifth season of the show saw nearly 570,000 viewers over its first week. That’s a 40 per cent increase from last year’s season 4 premiere, and the most yet for the docuseries, which gives viewers an inside look into the lives and careers of the drivers behind the wheel.

Since the docuseries premiered in 2019, live race viewership on ABC and ESPN has taken a jump. This poll suggests that of the nearly 2,000 self-identified adult U.S. F1 fans surveyed, more than half of them credited the show as the reason they gained interest in watching the races.


EmRata attending the races may not seem like a huge deal, but it is an indication of a cultural shift happening within the viewership and interest trends pertaining to Formula 1. What was typically known to be a competitive series that older, white men had the most vested interest in, we see that changing. But according to Lily Herman, the co-host of the podcast Choosing Sides, a weekly F1 culture newsletter, the changes were underway long before the show premiered on Netflix.

Liberty Media bought F1 in the mid-2010s and one of the things they did very quickly was to make the sport more accessible,” she said. “Almost immediately we saw that teams were not just on social media but became very active on social media and started putting a lot of resources into engaging their respective audiences using various channels and content, like clever TikToks and Instagram posts.” 

No wonder the audience used to skew older. Their targets weren’t looking for Instagram and TikTok engagement! And it’s not just the teams that have ramped up their presence and activity on social media. 


The official F1 account responded to EmRata’s TikTok:

“The lucky chin touch definitely helped fernando to the podium,” hinting at Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso’s third place finish.

According to the 2022 data, 57 per cent of U.S. adults who identified as fans of Formula 1 said they became fans within the past five years. That includes 26 percent who said they became fans in the past year. And perhaps the most interesting findings are about the changing age of the F1 fanbase. Among fans between the ages of 18 and 34, 42 per cent said they only came on board in the past year. And 58 per cent of adult F1 fans in the United States are under the age of 45, up from 49 percent in 2020.

When you consider the fact that EmRata’s followers responded to her TikTok by flooding the comment sections with suggestions on which driver she should go after and making tongue in cheek remarks about which ones to stay away from because they had already been claimed, it demonstrates that F1 is very much a part of pop culture, and it hasn’t always been. 


In 2017, NBC reported its viewership of the F1 races to sit at just 538,000. That number grew, slightly, to 554,000 in 2018, before taking a steeper hike to 672,000 in 2019, the year the show premiered on Netflix. The pandemic forced a fall off down to 608,000, but in 2021, viewership was reported to be at 949,000. And in 2022, just over 1.2 million people watched the races.

And in addition to ushering in a new generation of audience members, it’s also changing the profile of your typical fan. Nielsen data shows that the following changes in the audience makeup have transpired over the last few years. The new profile suggests the evolving fan base is becoming increasingly more Hispanic, younger, more affluent and white collar, and are more likely to have homes with children. 

So what does all of this mean? Well, a few things. The first is that yes, EmRata is in a pretty good place to find a man. Even if she didn’t luck out with a driver, the profile of the evolving fanbase seems like she could still strike up a conversation a young, hot, accomplished guy who can afford the insanely priced items on the menu. 


Second, though, that Netflix and TV programming in general has the power to inspire massive cultural shifts. Whether it means a new, widespread interest in picking up a new hobby or picking up the slang from the latest must-watch, the impact of communal viewing can be monumental, and water cooler TV might not be quite as dead as advertised.

And lastly - we know that streaming brings something right into your living room. It gives you a bit of a front row seat into things you may not have ever witnessed or experienced in real life. But more importantly, it acts as an equilibrium for the audience, neutralizing everyone. Perhaps the evolving fanbase, which seems to be more diverse than ever, wouldn’t feel comfortable attending an actual F1 race, or just plain couldn't afford it, but they’re at home in their living room and don’t have to worry about cost or feeling out of place. 

All of this begs the question about whether this was a lack of interest in the races to begin with, an issue of accessibility, or, to Lily’s point, an issue of F1 just being poorly marketed, at least in North America, for years before finally getting into the right hands. Perhaps it’s been a mix of all of the above. But with the show’s sixth season renewal already announced, does it matter? This series has got its foot on the gas and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.