Rising popularity of F1 spells good news for sponsors

LONDON - With the battle for the world championship heating up between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 is in a very healthy state with opportunities for brands and sponsors set to grow across the sport, according to a new survey.

The forecast for current and potential sponsors for the global racing series is good. Besides a healthy outlook for the future, nearly 32% of the more than 90,000 fans surveyed said their opinion of sponsors had improved since last season.

The findings have been published by the FIA, motorsport's governing body, and computer chip manufacturer AMD in conjuction with F1 Racing magazine, published by Haymarket, and TNS Sport.

Television is still the most popular way for fans to watch F1, with 67% stressing the importance of coverage that made them feel as though they were actually at the race. Fans said they wanted more in-depth coverage too, with 80% wanting more in-depth interviews with drivers and 73% wanting more coverage of the technology used.

Online has rapidly become a popular way for F1 fans to stay informed, with 87% of those questioned currently using the web to keep abreast of events in the sport. A total of 68% said they would be interested in subscribing to watch "behind the scenes" features on the internet, with 58% likely to watch highlights on the net.

However, in a blow for the 3G industry, only one in 10 said they were likely to subscribe to watch highlights and F1 races on their mobiles.

The survey found that nine out of 10 fans are either extremely or very interested in the sport, with 77% saying they would watch all 18 races this season on television and 14% saying they would watch 14-17 races.

Just under two thirds, or 64%, of the fans across the world who were polled said they have followed F1 for more than 10 years, with a third claiming they will see attend one race in person this season.

Of those that were polled, well over half said they preferred it to any other sport, and the most popular driver remains Michael Schumacher and the most popular team Ferrari.

F1 is still seen as "the pinnacle of motorsport" by 85% of those surveyed, and as a showcase of the most advanced technology in motorsport.

It is also seen as a unique sport by F1 fans because of the relationship between driver skill and technology.

The survey was conducted in June and July this year, with almost 92,000 fans from 180 countries around the world taking part.

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