Formula 1 teams are embracing Crypto tokens for fans

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72 years after the first World Championship of Drivers race took place at England's legendary Silverstone circuit, Formula 1 is more popular now than it's ever been.

After various failed experiments in bringing the sport to the U.S – most notably at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 through 2007 – the American nut has finally been cracked, with 400,000 spectators in attendance at the United States Grand Prix in Austin in October 2021.

The FIA has entered into a contract to race in Miami for the next 10 years and a Las Vegas Grand Prix has been pencilled into the 2023 calendar. It's estimated there are around 36 million F1 fans in the U.S. at the time of writing. To capitalize on this rapid growth and further engage a legion of new fans, Formula 1 has become the latest sport to ease into the fan token space.

Fan features

Fan tokens allow enthusiasts to have an influence on their favorite teams, and they're popular in sports such as soccer. Those tokens are bought with the cryptocurrency Chiliz ($CHZ), fluctuate in value and can be bought, sold and traded on an exchange. Minted on the Ethereum blockchain, each token is unique, trackable and secure. Holders of fan tokens get access to the Socios app and take part in polls affecting decisions made by the organization(s) they hold the tokens for.

These ballots can range from choosing a uniform design to naming a practice facility or picking event entertainment. Holders also get benefits such as priority ticketing, access to exclusive merchandise and sometimes even opportunities for a meet and greet with their organization's stars.

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Sporting expansion

Fan tokens initially kicked off in the soccer sector; over 40 clubs now have fan token schemes. Some of the most successful tokens are for teams where the fanbase extends far beyond the city the team plays in - Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona have been consistently near the top of the fan token exchange.

The lead into motorsports is fairly natural - for a Formula 1 fan to follow their favorite team to every race meet would require deep pockets and a lot of time off work traveling the globe from Miami to Monza to Bahrain to Baku. Fan tokens provide a way to support a favorite organization and stay involved in a meaningful way when the drivers are on the other side of the world.

Team tokens

At the time of writing, Socios issues fan tokens for two racing franchises: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant and Alfa Romeo ORLEN. With Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg on board, Aston Martin's 2022 campaign is founded on household name drivers, which is a trend that may continue – we've reported here on the rumors that either Mick Schumacher or Fernando Alonso may have his ride in 2023, should Vettel retire at the end of the current campaign.

By contrast, the New York Times reveals Alfa Romeo's pick of rookie Zhou Guanyu is perhaps a nod to the future of the sport as well as their team. Born in Shanghai, where the Chinese Grand Prix will return in 2023, the first Chinese full-time F1 driver is set to capitalize on a wave of home support - China made up the biggest viewing figures for a single country in the 2021 season with almost 71 million fans tuning in.

Fan tokens – as with all things cryptocurrency – are a relatively new concept. However Socios have been expanding across many major sports - as well as soccer and F1, fan tokens have been issued for the UFC, for the Turkish Basketball Federation, tennis' Davis Cup and even for eSports. Will we see the expansion of Formula 1 fan tokens like we've seen the expansion of the sport itself over the past few years? Don't bet against it.