One of the things that is interesting about looking over ratings data is seeing which races did very well and brought in the viewers… and which races, for whatever reason, didn’t do so well. There’s been a fair share of fantastic ratings since 2000 – such as the 8.8 million average recorded for the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix – but on the other hand there have been ratings on the opposite of that spectrum as outlined below:
01 – 1.80 million – 2006 French Grand Prix
02 – 1.90 million – 2006 Italian Grand Prix
03 – 2.00 million – 2006 Turkish Grand Prix
04 – 2.10 million – 2005 Belgian Grand Prix
05 – 2.11 million – 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix
06 – 2.20 million – 2006 Spanish Grand Prix
07 – 2.21 million – 2005 Italian Grand Prix
08 – 2.23 million – 2006 German Grand Prix
09 – 2.37 million – 2005 French Grand Prix
10 – 2.39 million – 2002 Belgian Grand Prix
All of the ratings above are for the full ITV F1 programme, which was about three hours even back then, similar to the preceding years and similar to the years following those above, both of which had higher ratings. Eight out of the ten ratings above are from 2005 and 2006. To put the above ratings into context, the 2000 French Grand Prix Qualifying programme had 1.91 million viewers, which shows how low some of the above races plunged.
Unfortunately for ITV, it seems that a Spaniard and German fighting it out for the Drivers’ Championship was actually worse than seeing a German run-away with the championship. All but one race in the list above had something where there was still the Drivers’ Championship up for grabs, it was only the 2002 Belgian Grand Prix in the above which was a ‘dead rubber’ race with Michael Schumacher having claimed the Drivers’ Championship many races earlier. So that very low rating, on an August Bank Holiday weekend as well, may not be too surprising.
The fact that five out of the ten races in that list are from 2006 interests me though. Was no battle really better than a Spanish versus German battle? I guess one thing worth considering is the lack of British drivers’ fighting it out at the front in 2005 and 2006. David Coulthard had moved to Red Bull and out of a championship winning team, while Jenson Button was collecting good results, but never really threatening for a win, aside from his win at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix (even that failed to deliver ratings wise, an average of 2.50 million was all it could muster – probably showing how much the sport had declined in popularity in the country).
Aside from what I’ve mentioned above, there is the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix on the list with 2.11 million. Which is of little surprise to me, it was held in the middle of Summer and it was by far one of the most boring races I have ever sat through. Looking at the ratings above, it’s not difficult to see why Formula 1’s popularity was at an all time low in the UK in the mid 2000’s.
Around this time period, Qualifying sessions hovered around the 1 million mark. The lowest live European-zone Qualifying session that I have is the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix which had a very low 900k.