By Alan Baldwin
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican Grand Prix organizers say more women than ever are expected to attend this year’s Formula One race, thanks to the success of a Netflix fly-on-the-wall documentary series.
Alejandro Soberon, president of promoters CIE, told reporters on Friday that data showed a 30% increase in female interest for a race that has sold out for the fifth year in a row.
“I think this series especially had an effect on ladies, who found this racing concept extremely boring until they discovered there was drama behind, there was a different narrative, and I think that helped,” he said.
“It’s not so distant any more, you can touch it, it’s more human.”
The 10-part ‘Drive to Survive’ series was filmed in 2018 and released this year, focusing mostly on teams further down the starting grid after champions Mercedes and rivals Ferrari decided not to be a part of it.
A second series has been commissioned, this time with all the teams involved.
Sunday’s race could be a title-decider for the third year in a row, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton needing to beat team mate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points.
Soberon said CIE had plenty of data on who was buying tickets.
“It’s a real surge of interest from women,” he said. “It’s directly related to the Netflix series. They answered and commented. At least in Mexico, it (the series) was widely successful.”
Formula One’s owners Liberty Media have targeted a more youthful and varied demographic as they try and bring in more fans to what is still a male-dominated sport popular with older audiences.
No female driver has started a Formula One race since 1976, but women are otherwise involved throughout the paddock from mechanics through to engineers and senior roles in the management of teams and the sport as a whole.
Only three-day tickets are sold for the Mexican race, and Soberon said that allowed purchasers to bring children, family and friends on different days.
“We’ll see if the demographic changes. I suspect we are going to have more women, less beer,” he quipped.
“It used to be a more male-oriented thing. I think it’s going to be a change of the dynamic for the future.
“I hope Liberty continues trying to make it more than the racing, it has to be a full experience and make all these heroes more appealing to everybody. We all should be investing a lot of money in the profile of the drivers.”
There has been talk of having a round of the all-female W Series on the Mexican Grand Prix support program in future, paired with the U.S. round in Texas, and Soberon said any proposal would certainly be considered.
Sunday’s race is expected to draw a crowd of 135,000, with capacity increased from last year. That would take it close to challenging Britain’s Silverstone as the best-attended race on the calendar.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Ken Ferris)