Rumours have recently called into question Formula 1’s future in APAC. Last year it was reported that the 2018 Malaysian Grand Prix would be the last in Malaysia. News coverage also suggested F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone is to end the race in Singapore.
To lose one, and possibly two, of the regional Grand Prix races would have a major impact on the sport’s presence in the Asia Pacific. However, new research by YouGov found that F1’s popularity remains strong across the region.
Overall, 54% of those polled in APAC say they are interested in F1. The sport appears to be most popular in Indonesia (62%), followed by Malaysia (58%). Support is also strong in Hong Kong and Vietnam, where 55% of respondents said they are interested in the sport.
People would most like to see new F1 races take place in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Sydney
While just 15% of people who have watched an F1 race have done so in person, 71% of respondents would be interested in doing so. Distance is cited by respondents in China (57%), Hong Kong(44%), Thailand(49%) and Vietnam(69%) as the number one reason why they have not attended a F1 race before.
For those that live closer to where F1 races already take place, cost is the bigger barrier and is cited as the most important factor in Australia(42%), Malaysia(62%), Indonesia(50%) and Singapore(75%).
The three most popular destinations cited are Hong Kong(34%), Bangkok(28%), and Sydney(23%).
Hosting a Grand Prix is seen as a positive to the host country
The most widely-perceived benefits of hosting a race are boosts to tourism (listed as a positive by 86%), entertainment (seen as a positive by 79%), overall economy (seen as a positive by 74%), and international standing (73%).
Almost half of Malaysians disagree with the decision to end F1 in their country
But the picture is more nuanced in Singapore, where questions over the Singapore Grand Prix’s future loom large. Though almost 70% of Singaporeans think F1 has been a positive thing for the country, only 57% would like to see it return.
While in Malaysia, where F1 won’t be returning after 2018, almost half of the respondents (46%) say they disagree with this decision.
Ferrari takes pole position among F1 brands
The brand most closely associated with the sport is luxury car brand Ferrari, recognised by 56% of respondents. Other brands strongly associated with F1 are Red Bull, Shell and Mercedes, listed by 43%, 39% and 39% of people polled, respectively.
F1 advertising is no stranger to controversy. Tobacco advertising was rife in F1 and longstanding relationships between cigarette manufacturers and the sport go back far into F1’s history. Yet following public pressure and changing attitudes towards smoking F1 severed its relationship with tobacco brands some years ago. The debate now rages on about whether advertising alcohol is appropriate.
Across the Asia Pacific, 42% of those polled believe alcohol advertising in F1 is appropriate, compared with 37% who don’t. The exceptions are Malaysia and Indonesia, which are the only two countries with more respondents believe alcohol advertising in F1 is inappropriate - with 54% of Malaysians and 48% of Indonesians polled believing it to be inappropriate, against 30% and 31% who think it is appropriate in respective countries.