In 2017 the FIA, through its single-seater commission, streamlined the route that junior single-seater drivers took to get into Formula 1. Not only did they formalise the Formula 3 -> Formula 2 -> Formula 1 pathway, but they started to eliminate all other worldwide, non-FIA Formula 3 and Formula 2 categories to avoid any ongoing confusion. Essentially Formula 3 and Formula 2 became single championships rather than categories of racing.
Importantly, the FIA, in partnership with the organisers of Formula 1, added the new FIA version of Formula 3 to the same event package as Formula 1 and Formula 2, further clarifying its significance as the first critical step on the FIA pathway to Formula 1.
From these changes onward F1 fans became aware that there was only one place they needed to go to get their first glimpse of the F1 stars of tomorrow; FIA Formula 3
So what is the impact of all this on brand enthusiasm for FIA F3?
First and foremost, the costs of raising awareness through FIA F3 are a small fraction of the costs of Formula 1. I’ve seen data that suggests that sponsorship costs in FIA F3 are less than 2% of Formula 1; it's unlikely to remain this way for long.
Stated differently, for companies already supporting Formula 1, to add on FIA F3 could almost be thought currently as a rounding exercise.
Yet, as you see below, the value from supporting FIA F3 is anything but a rounding exercise.
By virtue of being on the Formula 1 undercard, FIA F3 benefits from the huge attendance figures at Formula 1 events. While the timing of the races means the stands are far from full, from my experience racing at this year’s Silverstone event (see photo to the right), there are plenty of spectators that turn out to watch FIA F3 races.
Since the consolidation of all the prior F3-level feeder categories into a single FIA F3 championship, which follows the F1 circus around, the media reach of FIA F3 has exploded.
TV audiences have grown rapidly. Here are the viewing figures from 2022 for the top 5 audiences. Full details in the F3 media kit link at the bottom of this page:
Overall, 21.5m watched Formula 3 in 2022. By way of comparison, in 2021 Formula 1 had 445m viewers (from Statista) ; F3 had ~5% of the TV audience of F1.
In conjunction with the TV viewership, the FIA F3 organisers have done a great job promoting the championship on social media. In 2022 the overall audience grew by 37% with specific year on year activity as follows
Due to this increased visibility, F3 drivers are developing fame in their own right. Across the grid the total follower count for all the drivers was almost 2m, ranging from 10k at the low end to over 700k at the high end.
In FIA F3 it’s the drivers that raise the money necessary to race, not the teams. Consequently, the drivers know they must work doubly hard for their sponsors, so these social accounts are highly active. FIA F3 drivers put a lot of effort into brand activation for their sponsors; alongside growing follower counts, reach and general engagement attention.
In summary, if you represent the marketing interests of a brand, and you already have enthusiasm for motorsport, FIA Formula 3 represents a cost-effective and compelling method to amplify brand awareness and leverage enthusiastic activation by young, ambitious drivers who are within touching distance of Formula 1.