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Tournaments , COVID-19

Online racing: Is Formula 1 still the leader?

Online racing: Is Formula 1 still the leader?

Recently we've made a review of the F1 Grand Prix and today we’ll compare the results of Formula 1 with other racing events and identify who is the leader by viewership statistics.

We’ll start with the pre-last Formula tournament in Baku -  F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series Azerbaijan, which was held on June 7. Pierre Gasly, GP2 2016 champion, and Sergio Perez the owner of 8 Podiums joined the race.

Apart from the racers, the footballers Aymeric Laporte, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Thibaut Courtois, and motorcycle rider Matthias Walkner participated too. But was another attraction of stars from other sports disciplines able to improve the viewership statistics?

As we can see, the Formula results are getting worse every time. If you compare the last Grand Prix in Azerbaijan and Monaco the Hours Watched decreased by 13% and the Peak Viewers by 14%.

The last event F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series Canada has the worst stats of the series. The last tournament set a negative record by viewership statistics. Viewers peak decreased by 49% and Hours Watched by 52%, compared to the Grand Prix in Baku and unlike the previous races, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc didn't stream the Canadian Grand Prix, and it's also affected the results.

In fact, a large part of the audience would like to see the roster consisted only of popular drivers, not with the invited streamers and other influencers.

It’s also important that the audience of racing is a little older than the regular audience of esports, so the viewers' peak was only on the first event, and then people have lost interest.

The Race

This spring we’ve seen 2 major events by Torque Esports in collaboration with ROKiT Phones, which were held in the racing simulator rFactor 2. 

The first tournament was The Race All-Star Championship Series and the organizers invited a lot of real racers, for example, Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, and Dario Franchitti.

But according to our statistics of online platforms, The Race still didn’t reach the results of Formula 1. The broadcast was held on Twitch and YouTube Live and collected only 12K at the peak of YouTube broadcast and 1,5K on Twitch and the Hours Watched has reached the mark of 119K, and it’s a quite good result for such an event.

We should note that this event was broadcast on ESPN2 and Eurosport, so we can assume that people preferred to watch the tournament on TV more than on online platforms.

The second event was The Race All Star Series Season 2  and the results of it are still worse than the Championship Series. It has collected 9,7K spectators at peak and 35K Hours Watched.


INDYCAR iRacing Challenge 2020 ended on May 2, in addition to streaming platforms it was broadcast on NBCSN TV channel. 39 drivers participated, involving such stars as Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, and Will Power as well as IndyCar newbies. The viewers' peak was reached during the first race - 61K.

The audience was diverse, in addition to English-speaking spectators, the races were watched by people from Spanish, Turkish, Polish, and French broadcasts, as many riders, such as Lando Norris, streamed the event.

Apart from INDYCAR iRacing Challenge 2020, we’ve seen 2020 iRacing Indy 500 although it did not beat the results of the previous event. The peak was only 12K viewers, but there’s a better situation in terms of viewers, in addition to English-speaking spectators, there were some Spanish-speaking viewers (4,8K) and the reason for that is the streamer Borja Zazo.


eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series 2020 started in February and will continue until November 2020, but we think it makes sense to make some midterm results. 

The event features 40 of the best sim-racers, including Michael Conti, Bobby Zalenski, and Ryan Michael Luza.

The peak now is concluding 23K viewers, and the broadcast is held on 3 different platforms. The reason for such relatively low results is that apart from official broadcasts only Casey Kirwan streams its own broadcasts and based on the experience of Formula 1, interaction and behavior of the drivers on their streams attract viewers in the first place.

2020 Le Mans 24 Virtual

One of the oldest endurance car races has also switched to online. 

The Le Mans 24 took place from 13 to 14 June and 46 teams participated in it and the event has set a new record by viewership statistics. The organizers collected the money for Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation to fight against Coronavirus.

Compared to the previous offline race, the peak increased by 92% and concluded 174K simultaneous viewers, don’t forget the Hours Watched - 1,4M, even though the previous result was only 89 thousand.

The official broadcast of Le Mans 24 Virtual became the most popular and it was held on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook. 

Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Leclerc also made a great impact on statistics with their streams and Charles Leclerc’s broadcast is the 2nd most popular stream.

Because of this number of broadcasts, the audience consisted not only of English-speaking viewers but also of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian-speaking fans.

The race also attracted a lot of attention because it aired on many TV channels in different regions, such as Skysports, ESPN, and Eurosport.

Formula E

Electric cars of Formula E also didn’t stand still and organized its own races to raise money and send them to UNICEF to fight against Coronavirus. 

It all started with ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge: Pre-Season, which was considered as a test event on April 18. 

Basing on our statistics, 13K spectators watched the event at the peak and the audience was only from English broadcasts. Compared to Indy 500 the results are a lot better, considering the fact that it was only 2 hours on air.

The main event ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge was held from April 25 to June 7 with 2 parallel grids - first with racers of ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the second with influencers and sim-racers.

There were 8 races in total and the broadcast was watched by 11K viewers on average, and the peak (35K), surprisingly, was not on the finals, but on the 4th race in Hong Kong and Pascal Wehrlein became the winner.

Most viewers preferred to watch the race on YouTube, despite the official broadcast on Twitch, because many YouTubers joined the race, and the most popular of them was Jimmy Broadbent, who gathered 19K viewers at the peak of its broadcast.  

Also, due to a large number of drivers, the audience consisted not only of English-speaking fans. 2,5K Turkish-speaking viewers watched the race thanks to the Cem Bölükbaşı's stream, as well as there were fans from Spanish, French and German broadcasts.

The conclusion

Le Mans 24 Virtual is leading by Hours Watched, but we should consider the fact that compared to Formula 1, the endurance race was on air for 23 hours longer.

Despite a radical decrease of spectators in the last race, Formula 1 still leads by the peak among all mentioned racing events, if you take into account the pre-last Grand Prix.

The name, that Formula 1 earned in classic racing, along with good promotion in socials and on TV, still helps them to gather viewers on online races, despite that many viewers were frustrated about the small number of real racers, compared to other racing events.

We shouldn't forget about the new record of Le Mans, because the Formula was gathering its audience for a couple of months, and the endurance race almost managed to beat their record for only 1 event.

Now we’re waiting for the consequences of switching back to offline, and then we can tell if online racing will remain as popular as now.

For more detailed racing statistics, you can use these relevant pages on our website: rFactor 2, iRacing, Formula 1

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