In 2013 the world got tired of Vettel’s one finger salute and turned off the telly

4 February, 2014

Sebastian Vettel celebrates victory in Abu Dhabi last year

Sebastian Vettel celebrates victory in Abu Dhabi last year

Formula 1 superstar Sebastian Vettel’s coasting to a fourth successive world drivers title last year had an adverse effect on global TV audiences, as the 26-year-old Red Bull driver won 13 of the 19 races in easing to the title.

However, it wasn’t to television spectators liking as the total slumped from 500 million in 2012 – when Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso battled it out to the final race – to 450 million according to Global Media Report which was published by Formula One Management, who hold the commercial rights to Formula 1 and produce the images used by broadcasters.

While F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone put the reason for the fall partly down to last season having one race less than the previous year he conceded that Vettel’s dominance, especially in the second part of the season when he won nine successive races, as also behind so many viewers turning off.

Sebastian Vettel with Bernie Ecclestone

Sebastian Vettel with Bernie Ecclestone

“The less-than-competitive nature of the final few rounds, culminating in the Championship being decided ahead of the races in the USA and Brazil, events which often bring substantial audiences, had a predictable impact on reach,” wrote Ecclestone.

The most significant drop in viewing figures came in China where the race was switched from state TV to regional stations and as a result lost 30 million viewers from the year before.

France too saw numbers melt away as for the first year the race was broadcast solely on pay TV channel Canal Plus, which paid a king’s ransom to outbid TF1, the long-time home to F1′s TV spectators in France.

Figures there saw a loss of 17 million viewers from 27 million in 2012 to 10 million.

By contrast three countries showed significant rises in viewers, those being the United States, Great Britain and Italy. (AFP)

Subbed by AJN.


  • Tamburello_1994

    Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six championships in the nineties and the NBA was never more popular worldwide so I’m not buying the premise of this article. How many times have Manchester United won it all? Just asking. What’s really disturbing to me is someone who is that much on top of the game is despised and hated upon rather than celebrated for his accomplishments. Formula One better take a good look in the mirror if the sport is that much on shaky ground that someone winning the title four successive years is gonna turn people off.

    I also wonder if there is some national bias at play here. Just wondering if were Hamilton or Alonso would we be seeing this sort of story. Just wondering.

    There are other F1 publications are running this same story but without the “blame Vettel” meme.

  • Spartacus

    I often wonder how continuing to visit boring race tracks have affected F1 viewing figures?

    However, you can’t complain about TV viewers if you put F1 behind a pay-wall!

  • Karlich

    This F1 publication is definitely catering for the Boo Brigade lot – I have often complained about their style of reporting regarding Red Bull and Vettel stories as they evidently enjoy spicing up their news with sensationalist, sometimes borderline provocative, headlines and contents.

    Not saying the reporting here is false or heavily one-side, but as an example, putting “In 2013 the world got tired of Vettel’s one finger salute and turned off the telly” then continuing to explain that viewers dropped from 500 to 450 million where China alone counted for 30 million and France 17 million due to broadcasting changes… well you do the math and decide what a more suitable title SHOULD be :P

  • Bec

    The drop in viewing figures was a result of China going from FTA F1 to largely Pay TV F1.

    But the media don’t like reporting that, as much of their advertising comes from Pay TV channels.

  • Karlich

    Also elsewhere on this site they’re reporting how Bernie told Monty that the double points rule was introduced as an aid for Ferrari & Co. because they didn’t do their job… that is, they weren’t being competitive. Viewer numbers dropped because F1 is becoming less attractive to a more general audience, more so now than ever before because that general audience isn’t willing to pay for it. Why would Joe Shmoe want to watch a competition where the outcome is highly predictable? But don’t blame Red Bull and Vettel for making F1 a bore fest and now creating the “need” for double points – they’re just doing their job right.

  • Brit media at it again

    Just wondering if the people defending Vettel here, with which is somewhat true anyways, are the same people who do not defend Hamilton when the exact same is done to him by the media.

  • mik

    I’m kind of glad I’ve been glued to the telly on F1 weekends for the best part of 40 years but since I lost the free F1 I now get a few more weekend to enjoy other sports and surprisingly I don’t miss it and find myself defending the sport I once loved less and less., the tinkering with the format will only do it harm.

  • Tamburello_1994

    “Bored with Formula 1? Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have wiped the floor and orchestrated another clean sweep of silverware and thus inevitably taken the edge off grand prix weekends. To keep our readers from snoozing during race weekends and beyond we decided to review a nifty F1 management game to keep the boredom at bay…”

    That’s a sampling from a story entitled “Bored with Formula 1? Then check out Formula Legend management simulation” that appeared on this website 1 November of last year. Seems this angle was being pushed here well before any hard numbers on viewership were released.

    There’s a fine line between reporting news and editorializing.

  • GeePee

    Wonder why people come here if they slag off this site so much – maybe they work for Autospurt?
    Keep up the good work GP 247 peeps and ignore the spoilers ;-)

  • James

    @ Tamburello_1994

    In my home country, there is a saying that “the ball is round”, which roughly translates to: anything can happen, there is always a little hope/expectations that the all-dominating team/player may be beaten this time around…

    I guess things are quite different in Formula 1. Spectators think that as long as Vettel starts on pole, he would just sail away from the rest of the competition, he becomes virtually untouchable, unbeatable, infallible. He will almost certainly win the race.

    Perhaps things would be different, if Vettel always has to defend his lead from the man right behind him. Just my humble opinion…

  • Rockie

    Maybe others should become more competitive as well it would help!
    Perfect example the Mercs are presumed to have the best engine after Jerez but Hamilton fans are still not confident.
    Had the Renault engine displayed same reliability, same fans would have given up on the season saying Vettel would take the WDC!

  • Danilo Schöneberg

    Frankly, blaming Vettel for the slump in viewership is a cheap shot and utter claptrap. People turn off, because they are turned off literally by F1 rights migrating from Free-To-Air TV to PayTV. Also butt ugly cars, gimmicky rules, DRS instant overtakes have done and are doing much more damage to the product than Vettel being good at what he’s being paid for.

  • frontline99

    So then the pay to view model isn’t just here in the States. It’s been a point of contention in my household this winter that we pay $80/ mo. for cable, literally just so I can watch F1. At $1000/ year, you aren’t going to find new viewership.

  • MyFloridaNewspaper

    I have a one-finger salute for the meatbag that wrote this headline.

    One guess which finger it is.

  • fools

    It looks like he flicking the fans off.

  • Tamburello1994

    You’re getting off cheap. I pay $140 a month (HD cable + internet bundled package)

  • Awang Selamat Karim

    People (and especially the FIA) should stop blaming Vettel when everything gets “boring”. He just made the best out of the car.. he’d be a total MORON if he couldn’t win in one! Why don’t people blame Ferrari, McLaren, and the once powerful Williams for making such crappy cars that couldn’t even SNIFF the back of the RBR?

    If it was Fernando that was in the RBR, people would hate him. If it was Lewis that was in the RBR, people would hate him too.. and so on. The drivers did nothing wrong, they just drove.

    When he wins too much, people say “ooooh that’s because he has a good car, let’s see him in a shit car”
    Well duuuuuh isn’t it obvious you need a good car to win? I mean who won a WDC in a crappy car? Even the great Senna won his WDC in a car that was the best in his time. Schumi, Mika, Villeneuve… they all had the best equipment.

    If Fernando wins this year, I REALLY wanna see them fanboys admit that “He won coz he had a good car”. And I wanna see them admit that “Vettel lost only because the RBR was crap” Probably impossible they will admit it!

    If the FIA relly wants to make it tight, make GP2 style rules on the cars.. same engine supplier, same chassis builder… the only thing different will be the setup. THEN it will get interesting.

    I’m no RBR/Sebs fan but I admit that it’s NOT his fault the sport has become boring. It’s become boring because the others couldn’t step up. The FIA sure can end his domination.. but it STILL won’t be as tight as they think.. coz not all teams could adapt to the new rules. I’m guessing Mercedes will start to conquer the sport. And when they do, the FIA will come up with another rule to end their domination… and it’s gonna be back to square one.

    We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • karlich

    Said competitor ran a nearly identical article and I also “slagged them off”. I like GP247 and it’s on my daily, at times almost hourly, to-read-queue! It doesn’t mean that we cannot offer criticism as long as we keep the tone and language civil.

  • farizY

    It is off season, they gotta write something. LOL!
    Don’t get why people discredit Vettel’s achievements. Well, that’s life, you can’t please them all.

  • Hawk

    what do you mean Hamilton fans are still not confident? how can you speak for millions?
    and its not about vettel, hamilton, alonso, renault engine or merc engine… its about Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari or Caterham for that matter in as far as 2013 was concerned or else caterham would have raced the RB9.
    when it comes to Energy F1 or PU106, we cannot tell at this point in time, even after Jerez.

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