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Entertainment Formula E Brand Strategy

Inside Formula 1 and Formula E’s bold new ‘festival of entertainment’ model in sports

By Charlie Brown, Head of Sport and Entertainment

The Romans


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March 27, 2024 | 7 min read

With a parade of celebrities, live performances, and media partnerships, motorsport race weekends are pioneering a new model of sports entertainment, says Charlie Brown of The Romans for The Drum’s entertainment focus week.

A racing car in the paddock

What's driving the stratospheric growth of Formula 1 and Formula E as entertainment brands? / Rico Reynaldi via Unsplash

In 2024, Formula E and Formula 1 are on fire, gaining more and more fans and getting cooler by the day.

It’s not just about the fast cars anymore; motorsports are turning races into a whole vibe, mixing in music, fashion, and culture to keep everyone entertained.

Formula 1’s Super Bowl moment

Formula 1’s Drive to Survive Netflix series has helped gain more fans and increase motorsport’s reach across the world, but that success isn’t down to the racing, but the personalities and the entertainment the series brings.

The NFL has been doing this for a while. Just look at the Super Bowl, arguably the biggest entertainment show in the world. This year, one of the most talked about people at the game was Taylor Swift, and she didn’t even perform.

In its own Super Bowl moment, at the back end of 2023, F1 had its Las Vegas race – and what a spectacle that was from an entertainment perspective. The MSG Sphere was used heavily, not to mention an avalanche of celebrities from Cara Delevingne to A$AP Rocky and David Beckham.

F1 also teamed up with Jimmy Kimmel for the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Challenge’, getting a whole host more celebrities talking about F1. Jimmy’s side man Guilhermo was on the racetrack creating content, interviewing celebs, drivers & team principles, and unveiling them all to a new audience. This liveliness was contagious all around Vegas; the nearby Wynn Hotel reportedly broke its 18-year-old record for the biggest tip pool in a day.

Cast your mind back, who even won the race? (Obviously it was Max Verstappen, but that’s not the point.) The winner of the race is almost secondary to the 5-day show that took over when F1 came to town.

Formula E: Where the real innovation is happening?

Formula E’s first race in Mexico this year had Usain Bolt attempt a world record in the Gen 3 car. Was he ever going to actually break the world record? Probably not but, again, that’s not the point; it was about creating entertainment before the actual race, trying to appeal to a wider audience and reach more fans.

Then around the race in Saudi Arabia’s Diryiah, both One Republic and The Backstreet Boys performed. Why? Because it’s not just about race day anymore, it’s about the build-up, the pre-race fun, and the afterparties. The world of motorsport is constantly pushing to create a festival of entertainment around their global race days.

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Driver as brand

In 2024, expect to see more from the drivers, and not specifically in the race car on race day.

Formula 1 has done this amazingly well with the Netflix show, showing that drivers are looking for more opportunities to build their profiles.

Charles Leclerc, for example, has just taken a leap into the music scene with the release of an EP and signing with WME agency. The agency has said that its remit now is “to represent the 26-year-old racing phenom in entertainment and commercial ventures”.

Meanwhile, Lando Norris is becoming big in the gaming world and Daniel Riccardo has launched fashion brand Enchante.

Through these ventures, the drivers can establish deeper connections with fans current and new.

Where next?

Expect to see Formula E drivers continuing to branch out into the entertainment world as the sport grows too. It’s not only an important opportunity for them, but also for the sport itself. After all, more entertainment equates to more commercial opportunities.

Right now, casual fans could maybe name one or two drivers racing in Formula E and those drivers have most likely previously raced in F1. So that’s the job: build their profiles and entertain off-track. Generate more fans by embracing their personalities and their interests away from motorsport.

With the Formula 1 season only just getting started and upcoming races for Formula E in Brazil and Japan, expect to see a wave of entertainment off the track that continues to reach and excite motorsport fans across the world.

Love games, movies, TV, music, and podcasts? Us too. Head over to The Drum’s dedicated entertainment focus week hub.

Entertainment Formula E Brand Strategy

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The Romans

We’re bored of boring PR. Founded in 2015 and backed by advertising agency Mother, our team has worked with some of the world’s most exciting brands and created...

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