SponsorPulse Insight | How driver popularity can inform sponsorship decisions

SponsorPulse outlines how brands can analyse the popularity of Formula One drivers to make informed partnership decisions.

Formula One drivers are some of the most recognisable athletes in the world, and it’s not always due to their on-track performances.

The personalities and emotions of these stars often come out in interviews where we can expect to see/hear authentic responses to questions and comments. With the creation of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, fans get even deeper access into the world of Formula One and its members where the off-track content can sometimes be as captivating (if not more) than the racing itself.

When it comes to driver notoriety, it’s no contest: the three drivers that top the list are Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, and Lewis Hamilton.

Each driver’s personal brand goes beyond their on-track performance. Their popularity among fans goes a long way in bolstering the reputation of not just motorsport, but brand favourability among those who partner with the world's best drivers. 

SponsorPulse surveyed UK residents between 13-64 years old to find out which drivers have the power to influence consumer behavior. 

Keep reading to find out how your brand can leverage the data to make informed partnership decisions. 

Lewis Hamilton

Driving under the British flag, Lewis Hamilton may well be the most recognisable Formula One driver in the UK. With 89 per cent of British residents agreeing they know who he is, Hamilton is the most successful driver in Formula One history (103 Grand Prix wins and 191 podium finishes at the time of writing).

Known not only for his driving abilities but also for furthering Formula One’s global reach through his environmental and social activism, Lewis Hamilton has become a household name in motorsport.

However, awareness isn’t everything. 26 per cent of UK residents who know who Hamilton is state they like him, placing him just two per cent ahead of Verstappen and 11 per cent behind Ricciardo. Also, just 8 per cent of UK residents (aware) saying they’d support brand partners.

Lewis Hamilton is statistically the most succesful Formula One driver of all time

Daniel Ricciardo 

Daniel Ricciardo, hailing from Australia, drove in Formula One between 2011 and 2022. In that time, he managed to achieve seven Grand Prix wins and 29 podium finishes.

Ricciardo is known for his aggressive driving style. He is also popular for his energetic and friendly personality, often seen smiling and having fun both on and off the track.

Despite dropping out of the sport, 41 per cent of UK residents are aware of Ricciardo, and 37 per cent say they like him. But what does likeability have to do with brand endorsement? 

Well, 13 per cent of UK residents who are aware of Ricciardo also said that they’d support the brands he partners with. Proving out there is a direct correlation between likability and consumer behavior. 

Daniel Ricciardo dropped out of Formula One after two underperforming seasons at McLaren Racing

Max Verstappen

Dutch driver Max Verstappen is front and centre for Red Bull Racing. At just 25 years old, Verstappen has already achieved 35 Grand Prix wins and 77 podium finishes. Known for his fearless and aggressive driving style, he often makes daring overtakes and pushes the limits of the car. 

In terms of awareness among UK residents, Verstappen pulls ahead of Ricciardo with 55 per cent of UK residents agreeing that they know who he is.

Although he’s more well known in the UK than Ricciardo, he trails slightly in likability, with 24 per cent claiming they like him. That aside, his star power is still influential, as 14 per cent of UK residents who are aware of Verstappen would also support his brand partners. 

Max Verstappen is the reigning world champion, having triumphed in consecutive seasons

Top takeaways for brands

All three drivers have their own unique styles, helping contribute to their popularity both on and off the racetrack. When it comes to awareness, sheer volume isn’t everything. Likability goes a long way when it comes to influencing consumer behavior. 

For brands looking to enter an endorsement agreement with any of Formula One’s top drivers, it’s important to understand how your target audience feels about the celebrity you’re looking to work with. 

SponsorPulse's tip? Look for partners who have the ability to break through and make a tangible impact on purchase consideration for your brand. 

SponsorPulse is on a mission to promote transparency in the evolving world of celebrity sponsorship, we’ve developed a celebrity measurement product that enables our community to build lasting customer relationships through endorsement marketing. 

To learn more about SponsorPulse's celebrity and influencer marketing report, click here


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