Just when the Formula 1 World Championship appeared to be heading toward a quiet conclusion to 2020 with the championship titles long since wrapped up, Romain Grosjean’s emergence from a fiery crash on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix with only minor burns put the sport front and center on most U.S. news TV channels, let alone sports channels. Whether the unexpected burst of mainstream media attention will yield a boost in TV audience for this weekend’s second F1 race in Bahrain remains to be seen.
Last Sunday’s Bahrain GP – which featured a prolonged delay for barrier repairs following Grosjean’s accident – averaged a 0.31 Nielsen National rating and 500,000 household viewers on ESPN2. That’s down from a 0.44/711,000 for last year’s race, also on ESPN2, when it ran in April as the second round of the year. In a more direct comparison, last year’s F1 finale in Abu Dhabi — which aired on this same November weekend and in a similar time slot (starting one hour earlier) on ESPN2 — averaged 0.30/473K.