One of Formula 1®’s strategic objectives is to make the sport the greatest racing spectacle on the planet.. To achieve this, it is vital for F1 to delve deeper into fans’ behaviour and needs to help make informed decisions. Therefore, the Research and Analytics Department was set up in June 2017, headed up by Matt Roberts, with this team using the very latest research methodology and techniques to help Formula 1 to achieve this objective.
Among the ten ongoing research studies and projects started in 2017, the Research and Analytics Department worked on a comprehensive analysis of customer satisfaction among visitors to the Grands Prix, collating the opinions of both those in the grandstands and in hospitality areas. Over 18,000 people were interviewed by an independent research agency, Netfluential, and were asked for an evaluation of a wide range of topics, ranging from access to signage, circuit facilities and car parking to their preferred fan activations and new innovations they would like to see at races. The findings were then shared with individual promoters and other stakeholders, who will be using them to improve the customer experience at the Grands Prix in 2018.
Unlike almost every other sport, where events run for a set time in a clearly defined facility, a Grand Prix experience takes place over a much longer period of time and in a much bigger area. The data acquired points to a very high level of satisfaction amongst race attendees, with 97% saying attending a Grand Prix was a positive experience, while 73% described it as “very enjoyable.”
The three events that scored highest for ‘very enjoyable’ in the survey were Brazil (84%,) Mexico (84%) and Great Britain (82%.) A detailed analysis of this data indicates that, apart from the obvious factor of the track action, there are other important drivers of enjoyment that play a vital role, such as taking part in fan activations in the Fan Zone (such as the Pit Stop Challenge which scored the highest satisfaction score at 96%) and attending the concerts. Other factors which drive enjoyment are a better understanding of the sport and its main protagonists, along with being the ability to follow the track action more effectively through the F1 App and the giant screens. Other satisfaction drivers included the range of food and drink available and the quality of the event information and signage.
The research also allowed F1 to identify and classify the activations that the public would like to see implemented at the Grand Prix in the future, highlighted in the graph below. It is clear from the findings that spectators want to get ‘closer to the action’ and have more access to car displays:
The research work will naturally continue throughout 2018, with surveys to be carried out at 17 of the Grand Prix on the calendar with the objective of further improving the fan experience and ensuring that F1 remains the greatest racing spectacle on the planet.
Trial of new sensor technology at the 2017 Formula 1 Unites States Grand Prix to understand spectator behavior
In addition to spectator surveys, F1 is using the latest technology to understand how spectators behave. On the occasion of the last US Grand Prix, an analysis of the movements of spectators at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas was carried out in collaboration with Meshh.
Meshh provide sensors which work by collecting signals from Wi-Fi enabled devices (such as mobile phones). Even if not connected to a network, all Wi-Fi enabled devices continually send “ping” messages to detect available networks and these ‘ping messages’ are picked up by the sensors.. Proprietary algorithms then use signal strength, time and distance parameters to detect the presence and/or position of those WiFi devices with this data forming the basis of dozens of metrics and KPIs which are used to measure actual customer behaviour.
Thanks to the 34 sensors installed in the Fan Zone, in the area of the Main Grandstand and the Turn 4 at COTA, Meshh found that half of the spectators at the event tended to stay in the area where they arrived at the circuit and very few actually moved to different areas. This finding has commercial implications for F1 at races and means that merchandise and retail outlets are required at multiple locations around the circuit (rather than just one area). It also shows that F1 needs to encourage fans to move around the circuit by better informing them of the range of possible activities and events taking place over the course of the weekend.
This requirement has led to the development of the F1 Grand Prix event app which has now launched and will help inform spectators of the key event information when attending races. This type of analysis, which over the course of 2018 will be carried out at a total of seven Grands Prix, will provide fundamental information about where to allocate fan activations and retail outlets around the circuits and on how to improve the spectator flows.
This is a further demonstration of how research and analytics can improve the spectator experience of a Grand Prix, one of the strategic objectives of Formula 1.
Matt Roberts, Director of Research and Analytics at Formula 1, said:
“The spectator research programme has been one of our most successful insight projects in 2017. It has allowed our fans to have an input in the race experience and F1 will be acting upon many of the fans’ recommendations across the 2018 season. We are also very excited by the new Meshh sensor technology as this will provide us with even more invaluable insight around how fans behave at races and will almost certainly help us to improve the fan experience in the future.”
Notes to editors:
Norman Howell, Director of Communications, Formula 1
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About Formula 1®
Formula 1® racing began in 1950 and is the world’s most prestigious motor racing competition, as well as the world’s most popular annual sporting series. The 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship™ runs from March to November and spans 21 races in 21 countries across four continents. Formula One World Championship Limited is part of Formula 1, and holds the exclusive commercial rights to the FIA Formula One World Championship™.
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