Formula One finds global audiences

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Formula One finds global audiences


As one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the FIA Formula One World Championship is expanding its reach to include more locations. While Grand Prix races have been held almost exclusively in Europe and the U.S. in the past, half of the 18 Grand Prix championships in the 2008 Formula One schedule have taken place in Asia and the Middle East.

Formula One racing has become a global sport. It is hugely popular in Europe and some parts of North America. According to Formula One’s annual broadcast report, the sport drew 600 million television viewers last season, an increase of 3 million viewers from the previous season. Viewership rose as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa’s battle for the top position went down to the wire.

A good indication that the popularity of the sport is growing worldwide is the large viewership outside of Europe. With five Asian venues hosting Formula One races in 2010, Asia is being well represented on the Formula One circuit. The sport is also gathering momentum in China, where the television audience is 119 million people, the biggest number outside of Europe.

It is the excitement of the races that seems to draw most people. Cars can reach speeds of up to 360 kilometers per hour (220 mph) as they zing around the track. With engines revving up to 18,000 RPM, the slick aerodynamic vehicles can pull in an excess of 5 g on some curves during races.

Those not familiar with the sport might think Formula One or other forms of racing do not require much athleticism, but Formula One drivers are some of the most well-conditioned athletes in the world. Racing requires the driver to have exceptional arm and neck strength. Endurance is also a must, because longer races can often be draining. In hot conditions, drivers can lose as much as three kilograms (seven pounds) through perspiration.

The roots of Formula One can be traced back to the European Grand Prix motor racing of the 1920s and ’30s. The Formula One racing we are accustomed to now was developed in the post-World War II period of 1946.

The formula is a set of rules, the most advanced on the auto racing circuit, and the first race under the new rules took place in Silverstone in England in 1950.

While racing has always had a strong fan base in certain parts of the world, it wasn’t until Bernie Ecclestone rearranged the management of Formula One’s commercial rights during the 1970s that it began to stake its claim as one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Formula One racing is steadily reaching out to its international fanbase, with Abu Dhabi of the UAE set to make a Formula One Grand Prix debut next year along with Yeongam County, South Jeolla.

By Jason Kim []
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