Why Is Formula 1 Less Popular in Africa

why is formula 1 less popular in africa

Formula 1 is a very popular sport across the world. It is a multi-billion dollar business. Teams and F1 drivers make money from this sport. The question is; why is formula 1 less popular in Africa?

As a global sport, formula one racing currently visits all continents, except Africa.

However, this is about to change with F1 indicating it might return to Kyalami in South Africa circuit soon.

To understand why F1 is not popular in Africa, you should look into factors that are causing this.

At some point in F1’s history, the race in South Africa was very popular. It was a grand prix that produced some memorable events.

In this article, I am going to help you understand why formula 1 is less popular in Africa today.

You will be able to learn the African market and how it impacts on F1 racing.

Why Is Formula 1 Less Popular in Africa?

The main reasons why formula 1 is less popular in Africa are;

  1. Less F1 infrastructure in the continent.
  2. Economic situation
  3. Negative perception.
  4. No race in Africa
  5. Lack of an African F1 driver

These factors have contributed to diminished popularity of formula one racing in Africa.

It is good to hear that things could change.

However, it is important to address these issues. Doing that would promote F1 racing as a sport in Africa.

5 Reasons Why F1 is Less Popular in Africa

While there is growing interest in Africa about formula one, it is still less popular in the continent.

The top reasons why formula 1 is less popular in Africa include the following;

  1. Less F1 infrastructure in the continent.

To engage in motor racing sports such as formula one, there is need for quality infrastructure.

In Africa, there is little F1 infrastructure as compared to other countries in Europe or United States of America.

This is a major hindrance to the development of the sport in the continent.

  1. Economic situation

As you are aware, setting up or building the F1 facilities require huge capital investment.

You need money to bring an F1 race in your country or city.

The economic situation is Africa has not been the best. Countries are still struggling to provide basic services to the people.

Private sector and entrepreneurs are also not doing very well

When you combine this with low purchasing power of the people across the continent, it clears show why F1 is less popular in Africa.

  1. Negative perception.

Formula one is also suffering from a negative perception in Africa.

It is a sport that is seen as elitist and also as one for rich people.

This means that a majority of people across Africa cannot really associate with the sport.

Also, there is the issue of the sport being seen a white people’s sport. For example, in South Africa, only the white people could attend races due to Apartheid.

A lot needs to be done to promote diversity and inclusion in F1. It is great to see this is taking place with Hamilton and Mercedes F1 team taking a lead on this issue.

  1. No race in Africa

Another reason why formula 1 is less popular in Africa is that there is no race scheduled in Africa at the moment.

In a 23-race season, there is none in Africa. This is expected to continue into the 2023 F1 season.

Lack of a race in Africa has reduced the popularity of the sport in the continent.

For now, F1 fans in Africa have to rely on watching races in other countries and continents across the globe.

  1. Lack of an African F1 driver

In formula one, the drivers are important and play a significant role in increasing the sport’s popularity.

Formula one is more popular in countries that have a driver on the grid today.

For example, Max Verstappen has contributed to the growth of F1’s popularity in Netherlands.

However, Africa does not have an F1 driver today. I am not even sure there will be an African F1 driver soon.

Not having an F1 driver is another reason formula 1 is less popular in Africa.

I would argue that popularity would increase and skyrocket was Africa to be represented on the grid.

To make that happen, there is need to invest in young talent programs across the continent.

Maybe the top teams like Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari should open young driver’s development programs in Africa.

Growing F1 Market and Fan Base in Africa

While formula 1 is less popular in Africa, it is not all doom and gloom in the continent.

Over the last couple of F1 seasons, there has been an increase in popularity across the continent.

You can now find formula one fans in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Morocco among many others.

Actually, you have fans of the top teams in most of the African countries.

Like here in my home country of Kenya, you have fans who support Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault/Alpine and McLarens.

There is a growing interest and popularity in F1 drivers as well.

Lewis Hamilton tops the list of the most popular F1 driver in Africa. It is easy to understand why many identify in the continent identify with him.

Other popular F1 drivers in the continent include Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Carlos Sainz.

It is worth noting that Carlos Sainz father used to race in the Safari Rally World Championship in Africa.


In conclusion, F1 is not very popular in Africa today for a number of reasons.

As mentioned, there are a number of factors that has led to this situation.

The reasons why formula 1 is less popular in Africa include less F1 infrastructure in the continent, economic reasons and lack of driver development programs.

While there is growing interest among the middle class in Africa, a lot of work needs to be done.

Some people few formula one racing as a sport for the elites. This means that many people in Africa consider F1 as a sport for the rich people.

It does not help that there is only one black or driver of color on the grid today.

Many in the continent consider Lewis Hamilton as their own driver. It is good he has supported calls to have F1 return to Africa.

Are we going to see an F1 race in Africa soon? Well, time will tell.