The 2023 United States Grand Prix at Austin, Texas, exemplified that sometimes the unconventional can lead to familiar outcomes. The fifth weekend of the year using the sprint format saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc clinching pole after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen's top lap was deleted due to track limit infractions, pushing him down to sixth. Despite this setback, Verstappen bounced back, clinching a dominant victory in both the Sprint Shootout on Saturday and the main race on Sunday, even as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made commendable efforts.
Continuing the tradition I began this season in Bahrain, I turned to Google Trends post-race to learn about the most sought-after Formula 1-related topics during the event. This time, however, was uniquely personal since I was present at the Circuit of the Americas. Later, with the surprising news of the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc on technical grounds, I revisited Google Trends to capture fans' immediate reactions.
On Sunday, October 22, at 20:39 UTC (15:39 Austin local time), I wrote “formula 1” in Google Trends to discover the most popular worldwide related queries from the past hour. This hour window captured the last portion of the race and the following four minutes. During this period, Google’s global interest index (Figure 1)—a score calculated by Google’s algorithm based on the number of users Googling the term “formula 1”—reached its highest value at 20:35.
Similarly, in the United States, the local interest index peaked while I did the inquiry.
Globally, the hour’s most searched queries (Figure 3) related to the term “formula 1” centered on the Driver of the Day award, a fan-favorite accolade where anyone can vote for the driver they deem performed the best. The fourth query is “formula 1 points system,” which I can assume came from those interested in learning more about how the points are awarded. (I remember Googling the same phrase several years ago). Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri also made the headlines, presumably because he secured the race’s fastest lap.
Likewise, Tsunoda led the related topics list (Figure 4).
From a geographical viewpoint, I find it interesting that the US wasn’t among the top five countries (Figure 5) generating these searches. Nonetheless, a deeper look into the US data (Figure 6) saw Texas clearly leading the search traffic—attributable to both local and visiting fans.
It is at this point where I’d usually say my final words and end the article. And I was planning to do so until news about the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc surfaced hours after the race ended. In light of this drama, at 4:34 UTC (Monday) or 23:34 Austin local time, I returned to Google Trends and wrote “formula 1” to learn what people were searching for as the news unfolded, hoping to find searches regarding the event. And that I found (Figure 6).
All five of the top five queries address the news of the disqualification. The first result is Spanish for “why was Hamilton disqualified,” with similar variations of the same search phrase also being the top three. The focus on Hamilton could likely be attributed to the greater shock value, given his initial second-place finish.
The culmination of a Formula 1 race weekend always evokes a medley of emotions for me, whether I’m watching the podium ceremony on my TV or listening to the crowd’s roar and fireworks live at the circuit. To offset what I call “post-race blues,” I’ve been going to Google Trends minutes after the race ends to look at what others Google’d during the race. This weekend’s trending topics included the Driver of the Day award and several of the driver’s names. Regarding the origin of the queries, the host country, the United States, wasn’t one of the top. However, Texas led the searches originating in the country. Hours after I had finished my initial rough draft of this article, upon learning of the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, I returned to Google Trends and found out that the top queries related to Formula 1 at that moment concerned the news.