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As the Formula 1 season approaches, it seems the “Lewis Hamilton effect” has gripped the nation – new figures from Mintel show that one in five (20%) Brits take more of an interest in motor sports as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s success on the scene.
Indeed, it seems that the nation has taken motor sports into its heart.  Spending by consumers on visiting motor sports events grew by more than a third between 2003 and 2008 to reach nearly £70 million and TV coverage of it as a sport has seen an increase of 4.5% over the past four years. Although spending is naturally expected to stagnate in 2009 as the recession hits, there may be opportunities for operators to turn the downturn to their advantage.
Matt King, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, said:
“The results of this survey echo the trend of consumer allegiance following British success – with a rise in motor sport supporters following Lewis Hamilton’s F1 World Championship victory in 2008. Mintel’s research bears out the significant boost the sport has received as a result – both viewing figures and Formula 1 as a whole”
The future is also looking rosy for motor sports events, Mintel predicts the market to return to growth in 2010, with spending increasing by 23% in the next five years to reach £83.4 million.
“With many consumers likely to curtail their annual holiday plans as the recession hits, or at least cut down on the number of short breaks they take, they will have time to kill and will be looking for affordable ways to kill it.  Days out like motor sports events could be in a position to fill the void, as long as they are presented as good value activities for the whole family.” he continues.
Mintel research also highlights that consumers do not just restrict their allegiance to Formula 1.  22% of adults said they watched only one type of motor sport on TV, compared to 44% stating they watch two or more types of car and bike racing.