Hamilton the king on the track, but which Brits are stepping up their game on social media?

This article was provided by Nielsen Sports

While Lewis Hamilton remains the greatest driver of our era, three young British drivers are battling off-track to win over the next generation of fans. Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon are making huge strides forward to grow their respective fanbases and become Hamilton’s successor as the UK’s face for Formula 1. Nielsen Sports data reveals Norris’ impressive surge in social growth, as well as some significant changes to the way in which fans are engaging with the sport. Findings include;

  • Lando Norris’ use of Twitch is proving particularly successful, with his audience peaking at +345k on the platform during the virtual racing series which replaced live action during lockdown
  • Norris engages with 10.4 million fans across his social channels, more than Max Verstappen or former world champion Kimi Räikkönen
  • 45% of Norris, Albon and Russell’s Instagram followers are under 24
  • Alex Albon may be performing better on track but George Russell is currently easing ahead with a stronger all-round social following
  • 26% of UK F1 fans aged 16-29 plan to follow events on social media rather than on TV, demonstrating the importance of these newer channels to the sport and for the teams and drivers involved.

While all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton last weekend as he secured a record-extending seventh grand prix win at Silverstone, three other British drivers are not only jostling for position on the track, but also for the hearts of the fans. But who looks set to become Hamilton’s successor? Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon have started their seasons with mixed fortunes on the track, but are each taking significant leaps off the track to engage with a brand new generation of F1 fans.

All three of the British young guns have thrown themselves into video streaming platform Twitch in order to grow engaged followings on their personal accounts, despite still being in their formative years on the track. McLaren’s Lando Norris has emerged as an early favourite to fill Hamilton’s shoes. Aside from his performances on the track, which saw him secure a first ever podium finish in Austria, Norris’s fun and engaging personality and ventures into virtual racing to keep fans engaged during lockdown has seen his combined social media following grow to an impressive 10.4 million fans. F1 fans are enjoying new levels of access to the story behind the racing, and Norris’ Instagram image of himself helping the McLaren mechanics dismantle the car after the Hungarian Grand Prix is further evidence that he is stealing a march over his rivals to win over new fans.

Andy Milnes, Head of Client Services at Nielsen Sports said, “We are seeing fan bases cultivated in a brand new way. The ability to reach younger fans and offer them relatable, engaging content is proving indispensable. Lando Norris’s initiative to stream his virtual racing on Twitch opened the door to new followers for both him and Formula 1. Even George Russell, who is yet to register significant results on track, has developed an incredible fanbase through Twitch and Instagram. 

“Our data shows younger fans using social media as a key channel to follow and engage with the sport. This means drivers such as Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon who are focussing on developing their social profiles are building an engaged fanbase that will follow them for years to come. The ability to engage with fans, and deliver sponsors, via social platforms may be becoming just as important as delivering on the track.

“However, it will certainly be a while before they start to challenge Lewis Hamilton. Lewis has been a true pioneer of social media and has developed a profile that transcends the sports of F1. Beyond F1, he is one of the most important influencers across globe when it comes to sport, fashion and culture.”

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