Lewis Hamilton’s exciting assault on the formula one world championship this year is helping the sport to ride a wave of bolstered TV ratings.
Even in the wake of Michael Schumacher’s absence in 2007 – not to mention the loss of other big names including Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve – almost all grand prix broadcasters around the world are recording higher figures in each race.
“What we have now is even more exciting than anything Michael Schumacher gave us and he gave us a lot,” said McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
Unsurprisingly, Britain’s ratings boost has been the most impressive, with 7.7 million tuning in to ITV for Hamilton’s maiden win in Montreal compared with 5.4m for the same race one year ago.
When the McLaren driver won again at Indianapolis a week later, 7.3m were watching — a full 2 million higher than in 2006. Monaco and Spain, meanwhile, were both 1 million spectators higher than last year.
The increase in Germany is more modest, but – considering the popularity of the retired Schumacher – significant. The biggest audience for RTL’s free-to-air coverage of a race last year was 7.3 million, yet the US grand prix attracted 7.7m Germans to their television sets.
Even in Fernando Alonso’s home country, the ratings are growing. 5.3 million Spaniards watched Telecinco’s Indianapolis coverage, compared with 2.7m for the Primera Division football match between Seville and Villarreal.