Formula One: Hamilton beats Raikkonen in popularity poll of global fan survey

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - World champion Lewis Hamilton has edged out Kimi Raikkonen as Formula One's most popular driver in a global fan survey carried out by Britain's Autosport magazine and associated publications.

A separate online survey this month backed by the Grand Prix Drivers Association and found Ferrari's Raikkonen to be number one ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

Both found Ferrari to be the most popular team, followed by McLaren. Only 35,000 people, overwhelmingly male and mostly in the 18-40 age bracket, responded to the Autosport survey compared to 217,756 who contributed to the GPDA-supported one. Nationality details were not given for the former.

The Autosport survey found Belgium to be the most popular grand prix, ahead of Monaco and Canada, and the 1990s the favourite decade for the sport.

Of the respondents, 37.4 percent had never been to a grand prix and 37.6 of those with no plans to attend cited the cost as the reason.

Asked how much they would be prepared to pay to download or stream live races to a phone, tablet or computer, 43.4 percent were unwilling to pay anything while a further 31 percent would pay less than US$5.

As far as rule changes were concerned, 91 percent were against any return of double points for the final race of the season but 61 percent wanted to bring back refuelling. Seventy-three percent opposed using artificial methods to tighten up races and most were against introducing reverse grids and qualifying races to determine the starting grid.

However, 62 percent liked the idea of teams being allowed to buy 'customer' chassis from rivals and 86 percent wanted to see more freedom in the technical regulations.

More than half of respondents expressed opposition to a calendar of more than 20 races a year, with a majority also opposed to new venues such as Russia and Azerbaijan.

A total of 91.2 percent wanted to ensure historic races such as Monaco, Italy, Britain, Belgium and Germany were protected.

Formula One's provisional 2016 schedule has a record 21 rounds, with Azerbaijan due to make its debut, while Germany was dropped this year and the future of Italy's Monza circuit remains uncertain.

Asked whether they would stop watching F1 if Red Bull quit, 93 percent said no. The same question about Ferrari saw 72.7 percent also say no.