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Formula 1 2018: Who are the most popular drivers on social media?

Fast on the track, and growing off of it. Here's the list of F1's most 'followed' stars on social media...

Lewis Hamilton may have recently purged two of his three accounts, but the Mercedes driver remains the most popular Formula 1 driver on social media - by far.

The four-time world champion has removed all posts from his Twitter and Instagram accounts, but maintains a reach of around 15 million fans thanks to his combined followers on the three most prominent social media sites.

As of January 2018, Hamilton has 5.2m followers on Twitter, 5.7m on Instagram, and just over 4m on Facebook - which he last updated on Christmas Day.

Hamilton purges social accounts

Fernando Alonso is the second most popular F1 driver on social media with 6.2m fans, and the McLaren driver's influence is still growing despite failing to win a title since 2006.

Red Bull's dynamic Aussie, Daniel Ricciardo, is third on the list.

Sergio Perez is the fourth most popular driver, largely thanks to his 2m followers on Twitter, with Max Verstappen fifth.

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The fastest-growing social media account, however, is certainly Kimi Raikkonen's Instagram page.

The Finn only joined the site at the end of December but he already has 337,000 followers - more than 12 other drivers on the current grid.

Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel remains the only F1 2018 driver without an official social media account.

In total, the 19 confirmed drivers for the upcoming season have a combined reach of around 37.5m fans.

F1 drivers' combined social following

Driver Twitter Instagram Facebook Total
Lewis Hamilton 5.24m 5.7m 4.04m 14.98m
Fernando Alonso 2.55m 1.8m 1.8m 6.15m
Daniel Ricciardo 1.41m 1.2m 885k 3.49m
Sergio Perez 2.02m 434k 330k 2.78m
Max Verstappen 763k 1.3m 658k 2.72m
Romain Grosjean 784k 370k 263k 1.41m
Nico Hulkenberg 740k 368k 186k 1.29m
Valtteri Bottas 385k 520k 259k 1.16m
Carlos Sainz 344k 411k 187k 942k
Kevin Magnussen 424k 186k 59k 669k
Stoffel Vandoorne 134k 221k 96k 451k
Kimi Raikkonen 337k 337k
Marcus Ericsson 153k 137k 34k 324k
Esteban Ocon 84k 194k 258k
Lance Stroll 21.4k 145k 14k 180k
Pierre Gasly 38.1k 94.9k 25k 158k
Charles Leclerc 31.6k 94.9k 29k 156k
Brendon Hartley 39.8k 56.8k 51k 147.6k

How does F1 compare to other sports?
Formula 1 recently described itself as the 'fastest growing sport brand on social media platforms', with the sport's owners Liberty Media keen to increase the digital presence of its content and drivers.

Leading light Hamilton, however, still has some way to go to catch the most popular athletes from other sports.

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed sportsman on the planet with more than 300m fans, while Lebron James leads the way for the NBA with almost 100m.

The full Formula 1 2018 schedule

India batsman Virat Kohli is on top for cricket, while Rafael Nadal and retired track star Usain Bolt also place above Hamilton in the list.

But Hamilton does have a larger reach than the NFL's most popular player, quarterback Russell Wilson, as well as golf's Tiger Woods.

How does F1 compare on social media?

Athlete Sport Twitter Instagram Facebook Total
Cristiano Ronaldo Football 67.4m 118m 120.6m 306m
Lebron James Basketball 40.2m 24.6m 22.7m 97.5m
Virat Kohli Cricket 22.2m 18.4m 36.8m 77.4m
John Cena WWE 10.8m 8.2m 44.5m 63.5m
Floyd Mayweather Boxing 7.9m 19.7m 13.5m 41.1m
Rafael Nadal Tennis 15.2m 4.1m 14.2m 33.5m
Usain Bolt Athletics 5.5m 7.9m 18.7m 31.7m
Lewis Hamilton Formula 1 5.24m 5.7m 4.04m 14.98m
Russell Wilson NFL 5m 3.2m 2.2m 10.5m
Tiger Woods Golf 6.3m 982k 2.9m 10.2m
Chris Froome Cycling 1.4m 762k 565k 2.7m
Dan Carter Rugby Union 623k 830k 1m 2.4m
Michael van Gerwen Darts 323k 92.1k 275k 690.1k

What next for F1?
F1's digital growth, confirmed in an FOM statement, should come as no surprise after Liberty Media's takeover.

Part of their plans included relaxing the sport's previously stringent social media rules - aiming to push social media engagement between drivers and fans.

"We are encouraged by the growth in audience numbers across linear and digital platforms during the 2017 season," F1 commercial director Sean Bratches said. "Central to our efforts last season was to improve the fan experience across our platforms and it is encouraging to see the engagement that fans around the world have with Formula 1 media.

The 2017 season included live Instagram streams from team motorhomes during rain delays, Twitter Q&A's and car launches on Facebook. And 2018 should see a lot more.

"Our work continues as Formula 1 fans will see material changes in 2018 with respect to both incumbent experiences and the creation of new ones," added Bratches. "It is a good time to be a Formula 1 fan."

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